120109_buvssfu0105Keep the Ball in Play

The World Cup has turned my thoughts to soccer, but not away from organizing.  There’s a useful organizing analogy out there on the football pitch.

How well do you think a team would succeed if their strategy was to collect balls on the sidelines? Their chances of winning would be even worse than North Korea’s (5% according to the Daily News).   An essential step to achieving YOUR goals is to be sure you at least keep the ball in play.

That may sound so obvious that it doesn’t bear saying, but here’s the point.  Good organizing is about having the ability to circulate the items you need to the goals you want.  All too often we are satisfied with storage that simply makes room for the stuff we have, but does nothing to keep these items findable and useable.

If there’s no expectation for an item to be AT LEAST findable then there’s no point in keeping it.  Even archive files need to be “in play,” on some level.  Sure they can sit for 7 years or so, but at some point, most of them need an exit strategy.  Think of it as a 7 year plan to get them to their goal.

Just as a soccer ball needs to advance down the field in a series of stages before it arrives at it’s goal, items in your home need to advance in a series of stages before arriving at their final goal.  Otherwise they accumulate in piles of clutter.

It’s particularly important to keep perishable items like food and batteries “in play” or you’re just throwing money away.  Again, it’s not about using everything you have as soon as you purchase it, it’s about keeping the ball in play and advancing it towards your goal.  Are you keeping the extra mustard in the cabinet where you can see it? Can you see how many you have?  Can you see that you’ve got more than you can eat before the newest one expires?

The difference between the soccer field and your household, of course, is that you are not facing an opposing team.  The only obstacles that come up as you advance items down the field to your goal is time, other priorities, and the habit of hiding items away so they’re not in play.  Tackle that last obstacle for good.