clear-deskI have a simple little theory that explains why it is so hard to stay organized.  While I have never tested it scientifically, I have observed it throughout my life and in almost every home I have organized.  I call it the One, Two, Four-get it! theory.

It begins with two other organizing beliefs of mine. First, I believe that a clear work surface is your number one organizing tool.  Second, I believe that limitations breed freedom.  For example, if you limit the contents you store on your work surface to NOTHING, then it can remain your number one organizing tool.

Now “nothing” may sound like a very strict number, but see if this sounds familiar.  If just one item is allowed on your work surface, then it welcomes two.  And if there are two items on your work surface then it justifies four.  And if there are four items on your work surface, then all bets are off.  I’m absolutely convinced of this progression. That’s my One, Two, Four-get it! theory.

It’s a simple theory, but it requires a major shift in thinking to benefit from it.   It means your work surface is no longer a combination processing/ storage area.  It’s JUST processing.  If it’s OK to store one item, then it becomes OK to store two, then four, then MANY.

Don’t look to the traditional desk as a model.  Look to an airplane runway.  It’s OK for things to land on your work surface for processing.  In fact, that’s the whole point, but there must also be a plan for takeoff.  NOTHING must take up residence.

It may sound like a difficult habit to maintain, but it’s actually easier to impose this, than a similar rule with exceptions.   Exceptions can be challenged.

This habit must be accompanied by a series of easy homes for EVERYTHING, but once you have achieved this, your permanent runway will become your most effective tool to STAY organized.