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Why Most Organizing Products Don’t Work

Why Most Organizing Products Don’t Work

dream-car-engine-06_23_11-920-11If it feels like you’ve tried every organizing product and nothing seems to work, don’t blame yourself.  Most organizing products are inherently flawed. Why? Disregard of context.

Context of time.

Many organizing systems are overly complicated and often require a series of organize-y little tasks to make you feel organized, but actually detract from other priorities. These never last, because you never have the time for them and the other activities that fill up your life. If you have one of those fancy date books that requires more time to enter tasks than you have to actually do them, then you know what I’m talking about.

Context of space.

Many organizing products are awkward sizes or shapes, that don’t offer an answer for how they can fit on your desk or shelf, with the other products.  A good model for how organizing systems should work together can be found under the hood of your car. There, a plan has been worked out, to make room for each system, so they can all work together and fit comfortably. Does a giant trapezoidal inbox make sense, if there’s no comfortable space on your desk or shelf to put it?

Context of sequence.

The spiral notebook is the place where ideas and actions go to die. A student is compelled to refer back to notes to study for an exam, but for the rest of us, there is less motivation. We all have ideas we want to write down, so we don’t forget them, but then what? In a spiral notebook, these ideas tend to stay trapped with all your other ideas. Sure, you can rip those pages out to file with related documents, but they have those crappy rough edges that don’t play nicely with others. I’ve seen piles and piles of these things, half unused and gathering dust. This is an example of disregard of context of sequence.

It never makes sense to buy organizing products before establishing manageable quantities and habits, especially when most products are created without any regard for how they fit into your time, space, or sequence of tasks. The most effective way to know what to buy is to first know what contents to keep.

Can you think of an organizing product that has aggravated you?

4 Comments
  1. Very well said! What doesn’t work in my home office is the in and out tray with slots for files. Too big and not worth the space it takes. There is one online product I’ve started using that does work well: ‘Google Keep” Can enter online or on the phone and it does what it says.. ‘keeps’ important tasks close at hand.

  2. Ooh, that’s a good one for the very reasons you cited, plus you can only see what is on top of the pile. Papers and files go in easy enough, but there’s nothing about its design to make them come out so easily.

  3. The “Context of Space” section really spoke to me! I initially bought some cool-looking desk organizers purely for the look. I didn’t consider the space they were to be used in, and as a result, they have not been used.

  4. Great example! Thanks for sharing.

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