One of the key determinants in success with any subject is this: Did you achieve the results you intended? Let me explain.
When I worked for my husband in his dental practice, I would sometimes enlist the help of other team members to re-organize my supplies closet in the front office. The result? Pretty – it always looked good – but non-functional. The outcome was always disappointment on both fronts – mine and theirs – for several reasons.
First, they didn’t really work with me and had no idea how often I used things. Therefore, I would find things I needed daily on top shelves or in hard-to-reach corners, with the things I rarely used in prime locations (middle shelf – eye level.) The consequences were reduced productivity, frustration on my part for not having things the way I wanted them, and bitterness from my co-workers because they felt I did not appreciate their hard work.
I’ve learned a lot since those days and I now realize that all of those hard feelings and days of inefficiency (until I could get the time to re-organize the closet myself) could have been avoided if I had observed a few simple strategic steps before starting the project.
Here, then, are my Best Practices in getting the results you want from your organizing project.
Identify your desired results. Do you just need everything to look neat? More than likely, you need this space to be functional as well as attractive. Decide for yourself how you want it to look when you’re finished. If you can find a photo in a magazine or catalog that represents what you’re going for, keep it where you (and others) can see it during the project.
Ask good questions. Do your research. This requires asking good questions in the beginning. Where is the best place to store this? Who uses this item regularly? Does anything need to be relocated? Is there anything else that needs to be stored in this space? How often does this get used? When was the last time this item was utilized? How can I get the best use of this space? Do I need more shelving, see-through boxes, other organizers of some sort?
Plan the project. Once you’re answered all your questions, get an idea in your mind’s eye of how things will be executed. What do you need to do first, second, third, and so on? Purchase any items identified above. Don’t forget steps like washing down walls and applying a fresh coat of paint if necessary. You’ll be amazed at how little things like that make a big impact.
Communicate your intentions well. If you are enlisting help, it can be difficult to speak up when necessary. People have their own ideas of what organized means, (as I learned), and may get offended if you stop them half-way through completing a portion of the project to tell them they’re doing it wrong. Have your photos and project plan in hand and go over it before anyone begins. If someone has a bad attitude or just wants to “get it over with,” let them go.
Decide who should execute. If all you need is a quick fix for getting things to look neat and orderly, just about anyone willing to help will fit the bill. However, there are times when you are the only person who knows exactly where things should go. Sure you could try to explain it to someone and that might work, but in some cases, in the time it takes you to explain it, you could have the project completed. One thing to keep in mind in making that decision is to ask if this person could possibly be organizing for you in the future, or if he would be assisting you with your duties on a regular basis. If that’s the case, then taking the time to explain how things should be organized will pay off in the long run. It’s the old concept of, “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” If the help is temporary, use them to assist. Otherwise, teach.
Reassess and make adjustments as needed. Sometimes that box of paper just won’t fit on the shelf we’d really like to keep it on. (Another reason to go paperless – ha!) Moving one item may mean having to re-work your plan. Be prepared for this and be willing to let go if necessary.
Let things settle. Occasionally it helps to step back and take a break from all the hard work. If you’re not sure about something, let it sit for a few days and come back to it. Nothing is set in stone and you will probably be making adjustments on a fairly regular basis anyway. I do. I’m constantly thinking of better ways to do this or that, or better places to store an item. While it used to drive my husband crazy, he’s getting used to it and just asks, “Where does the ________ live now?”
Living in an organized, yet flexible, and always changing home is fun, reduces stress, and is a good challenge to maintain! It is so rewarding to look back on a project and see the progress, both physically and emotionally. Which reminds me – remember to take before and after photos!
Until next time,
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This post was written by Debra Moorhead, Motivation, Education, Inspiration on January 30, 2008