Organizing Breathing Room into Your Systems
When I first started my organizing business, I called it Breathing Room. Back then I believed that breathing room is a highly desired result from getting organized. I still do. I also believe it is a vital component to organizing systems for both space and time.
When we say we need breathing room, it means we don’t want to feel crowded. We know what it feels like when we see it. It means getting away from a large group of people. It means opening the door to a clean, uncluttered hotel room. It means getting away from the noise of the phone and computer. Ahhhh.
Recognizing breathing room, however, is less obvious when we are getting organized. If we are organizing a closet, for example, it is not enough to take everything out, purge some excess, and fit everything back in. Fitting is not the same as organizing. To have a well organized space, you must also allow for breathing room.
The floor is a vital area to leave breathing room. If your drawers are well organized, it makes no sense to start organizing other items in boxes piled on the floor, blocking those drawers. That empty space in front of the drawers is as important to staying organized as the drawers themselves, because it allows for accessibility.
The most important place to leave breathing room, however, is on your work surfaces. Work surfaces are what allow for processing and circulation. Clearing your work surface at the end of the day- whether it’s your desk or kitchen counter- is the most important habit to keep you organized.
Keeping this breathing room open does not come naturally. If we see an opening, it is our natural inclination to fill it. That comes from not recognizing the value of empty. We are quick to recognize the value of our things, but not the value of the space they occupy. When you purge excess stuff, think of the space left behind as breathing room, in which to enjoy your more valued keepers. Also, enjoy the tranquility that comes from breathing room.
Breathing room makes you feel more in control and relaxed. From a very practical point of view, it helps you stay more organized, because it allows for accessibility and process-ability. Furthermore, this applies not only to space, but to time.
As with organizing a closet, organizing a day is not about fitting everything in. A tightly packed schedule is more likely to guarantee frustration, than a mastery of time. Organizing is about controlling the controll-ables. Most of what occupies our time is not controllable, so plan what you can control and leave some breathing room between events, for all those things you can’t control.
To breathe life into your environment and schedule, give them breathing room.