Where Bad Organizing Goes to Hide

There have been several occasions, when I have explained to my clients the importance of keeping action items visible and they respond by saying, “Yes, that makes sense, but there are other items I just want to hide.” They’re not talking about hiding cash from thieves or inappropriate materials from their kids.  They’re talking about hiding items from themselves.

Sure, there are times when things need to be out of sight, out of mind.  If everything is kept out in the open, then it is impossible to focus and get anything done, but it never makes sense to hide something on yourself.  If an item is not actionable, it must at least be findable.

If your intention is to hide something away, you should really look at whether you need to keep it or not.  This includes items you are keeping just in case.  Think about it.  If you have kept a spare coaxial cable because you might need it someday and that someday actually comes, how are going to find it if you have made a point of hiding it away?

There are consequences with keeping items, just as there are consequences with getting rid of them.  One of those consequences is that you must have a plan for retrieval.  Storage is not a one way street.  Without a plan for retrieval, the items you just hide will end up burying the items you really do care about.

So if you can get rid of these hide-candidates, great.  Otherwise, see if you can store the items you are keeping just-in-case more remotely.   Even remotely stored items, however, should have a plan for retrieval, a plan for finding.

If you want to find good organizing systems, begin by eliminating the word “hide” from your organizing vocabulary.