The Thinking Environment

July 24th, 2012

A week or so ago, I was showing a client a few things in my own home that I thought might work for her home. I led her unashamedly through my messy, messy home, with my mind truly only concentrating on the objective at-hand and my blinders on to what the house must have looked like to a complete stranger. It wasn’t until she peeked into my home office that I understood the gravity of the situation. Here I am, a home designer and organizer, showing the uber-organized part of my home to a client, whilst my home office was euphemistically a disaster zone! Her comment said it all: “Oh girl, you’ve got a lot going on in here!”

The Mischief

Even though I have the propensity toward extreme organization – I will neither confirm nor deny that our movie collection is arranged alphabetically, and by genre – I have another side that tends to be just as messy. It’s truly a conundrum, how I can function in the grandeur of clutter that clothes almost every part of my house. The truth of the matter is that “functioning” is really all I’m doing. I’m not working efficiently. I’m not utilizing all the many resources I have piled underneath paper. I’m not enjoying my workflow, and I’m not optimizing my output. I am merely functioning. This notion, that as long as we’re functioning, we’re okay, is a completely ludicrous and, unfortunately, pervasive little piece of mischief.

I’m reminded by every single ad I see, that it’s time for families with kids to prep for school. I remember this time of year always being so exciting as a child [read: major nerd about to qualify her lifetime achievement in said nerd-dom]. I couldn’t wait to pick out my school supplies, carefully choosing my items based, of course, on style, efficiency and economy.

My point in bringing this up is that we as a culture believe in putting our best foot forward. We want to start the year off with the freshest tools. We want to empower our kids (if you have them) with everything they’ll need to have the best chance at success. So, why is it less important for us to prepare and empower ourselves for efficiency and success in our homes?

The Mischief Managed

The simple answer is that at the end of the day, there’s just nothing very sexy about office supplies. I don’t think I’ve ever seen office supplies on a Christmas list – that new steam vacuum, yes, but office supplies, no. And, while I’ve fought the good fight for the right to own a souped-up label maker, I realize I may be the exception to the rule. What many people don’t realize is that in order to maintain good organizational practices, one has to have the components that make up the foundation, if you will, that will sustain those practices.

In the past, I’ve put schedules together, where every Sunday, I sit down and re-organize my closet or my desk. By Thursday, I’m back to where I started, not to mention that the whole discipline of routine maintenance usually lasts about four weeks, if I’m lucky. The gaping hole in my method was in my underutilization of resources. It’s all well and good to organize, but that takes time. If there are resources available to me to help manage the clutter, so that when I do sit down to organize, EVERYTHING has a specific resting place, I will see a longer term of organization between my maintenance checks.

A Mischief Managed Desk

This piece of knowledge is the golden goose of organization. If it was just up to the organizers of the world to keep everything tidy, we’d be lost. Knowing that 75% of good organization is in the procurement and use of organizational tools, makes the task of “being organized” not so daunting. You don’t have to be “good at organization” to be organized. But you do have to analyze how you work and function, and then use the considerable amount of organizational resources out there to help you on your way.

Here is a list of the organizational resources that I find to be most invaluable:

  • Desks with large flat surfaces
  • Desk Organizers
    • Little drawer bins for index cards, post-it notes, large binder clips, staples, glue sticks, white out, tape, stamps, hole punch, laptop and computer adapters and label maker
    • Writing implement organizers, which also house my scissors, business cards, measuring tape, rubber stamps, paper clip jar, ruler, tape dispenser, highlighters and markers
    • Paper organizers
      • Stand-up paper holders that hold smaller notebooks and pads for quick access, as well as brochures I like to reference
      • Stand-up file folder box, where I keep tickets for upcoming trips and events, coupons, information for quick reference, receipts
      • Printing material storage, which houses every different type of printing paper I could need
  • Long cable system to hold top-of-mind items for easy-to-reach-and-see reference
  • Magazine holders, which house my extra marketing materials
  • Filing cabinets, which house important documents in an easy and orderly fashion
  • USB hub, which eliminates my need to move my computer every time I need to use my thumb drive

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