Organizing A Wider Cast, To Last

fishermanWe usually get called in for organizing help over a fairly limited problem: a cluttered garage, a pile of papers, or to-do’s not getting to done. It’s good to have a starting point, because it means that you have chosen a priority. However, to make the organizing last longer requires reaching a little further.

A fisherman may drop his fishing line below the dock, because he has seen fish there before, but if they aren’t there today then he needs to cast his line a little further out. The further he reaches, the greater he opens up his chance for success. The same is true with our organizing efforts. Here are three examples.

1. Clearing a closet

We may get called in for help because a closet has gotten so full that there is no room to store the items that may be piling up in the kitchen. Often the client feels that part of the closet is under control and just wants us to organize the other parts. We encourage the client to “cast their line a little further” and empty the WHOLE closet. This helps us prioritize. Then we cast a little further. Besides looking for the potential discards and donates, we also look to see if significant quantity of items can be stored more remotely.  We know that it’s not enough to pack everything in so that it just fits. We want to create a lasting storage system. We leave the closet floor open so the shelves are open and accessible. The items on the shelves are highly visible, labeled and accessible in designated areas, so the client can always find what she whats when she wants it.

2. Filing

A client may have a desk piled with papers and an over-stuffed file cabinet. While her focus is on her office, we cast the line a little farther. Are there some archive files in the file cabinet that could be stored more remotely? Once space in the file cabinet is opened up, we don’t just settle for files to store paper. We reach further, for file folders that are easily findable and a system that makes you ask why you are keeping a file and for how long. That is the key to keeping paper management sustainable.

3. Time Management

Once a client’s paper is under control, she may tell us she needs to figure out how to get more things done in a day. We start by casting the line WAY out on this one, because we know that we can show you how to cross off more on your to-do list, but it is still quite possible that you would feel unfulfilled. I’m sure that you’ve heard the quotes about how nobody ever looks back on their life, wishing they had worked harder. Time management is ultimately about priority management. So start looking at that bucket list today and work backwards. It is important to work some tasks, from your path to your life goals, into your weekly schedule, so you aren’t just living to work. Then it becomes a lot easier to prioritize your day-to-day tasks in a sustainable, fulfilling way.

Do you have an organizing success story, that comes from casting your line beyond the dock?