Doors can be vey useful. They keep bad things out and good things in. This holds true for both physical and mental doors. Organizing systems depends on recognizing these doors and when to keep them open and when to keep them closed. Here are three examples.

1. Door to process

Your number one organizing tool is a clear work surface. OK, but what does that have to do with doors? The effective use of a work surface is dependent on when to open and close a mental door.  That door should be closed to storage. It should be open for processing mail and other collections. It should not be open all day, but just long enough to spread out, prioritize and process away. Then the door should be closed (leaving your surface clear) until you are ready to process again.

2. Door to conceal

Sometimes a physical door is needed, so that we can focus. For example, If you simply need to put a file where you can find it, you can open a file door (drawer) and put it away. When you close this door, the file is out of your head. This frees up your mind to focus on the files that do demand immediate attention. The same approach applies with opaque bins. They represent closed doors, that allow you to ignore things like Halloween supplies in the basement, for most of the year. This opens your focus to find the stack of plastic party cups on the basement shelf.

3. Door to reveal

Sometimes doors are more like a gate to a corral. For example, I like to keep two clear bins in the garage to hold items to donate. These items need to be collected and closed into a corral. Unlike a door to conceal, a corral gate is designed to reveal. While I need a dedicated area to collect my donate items, I need to keep it as visible as possible, so that I am compelled to action, when the corral fills up.

A final word on door-ganizing. Don’t open a door that you’re not prepared to close. In other words, don’t pull out more stuff to organize, than you have time to process. You may, for example, open a (physical) closet door and fill your bedroom with it’s contents. You may also have opened up an unrealistically ambitious mental door. Remember, it has to go somewhere. Do you have a plan for discards, donates, give-to,s, and sell items? It’s a project, not a task. A project needs a strategy, including a plan for when (and how) to close the door on it.

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