By Diane Albright CPO, Organizing and Productivity Expert
January 11th, 2016
If you are going to invest time and perhaps some money in getting organized you’ll want to create systems that will last. Put some thought and planning into the systems before you set them up. If you follow the recommendations below, you’ll be well on your way to creating some of the best organizational systems, whether at home or work.
1. Creating Organizing Systems that Work
When setting up an organizational system, make it so it is easy for everyone else to use it. Don’t set it up with you in mind only; that is unless you want everyone dependent on you when they are in need of locating an item. So whether at home or at work, the system should require little or no instruction for others to use and preferably be self-explanatory. That insures everyone else can easily find what they are looking for.
At work, set up systems so co-workers, your boss or your assistant can easily locate what they need when you’re not available. This way if you are off work for a sick day or vacation you won’t get texts asking where something is. Your office can continue functioning without you, decreasing the amount of work left for your return.
To set up the ideal organizational system, create categories and use labels to identify the categories. Remember, the categories need to make sense to everyone else. Labels will identify where to find something and where to put it back. Keep in mind we use 20% of our things 80% of the time. Therefore, labeling will help you too in finding the less often used 80% of what we have!
2. Create Broad Categories and Label!
When creating categories, select broad categories that are general. Don’t create categories that are overly specific.
If you’re labeling a pantry, label a shelf “Drinks” not “Soda”. This way if you fluctuate between drink types you’re still good, now and in the future.
If you’re creating a file folder for you dog, don’t label the file folder “Fido” or “Dog.” Instead use a broad category like “Pets.” This way you’re covered if one day you have a cat or rabbit. Use the same methodology when creating a file folder for your car. Don’t label it “BMW” or “Van.” Instead use the title “Auto.” These broad categories will make it easy for family members to find the file.
3. Use Alphabetical Order or Color order When it Makes Sense.Within a category consider using alphabetical order or color order if will help in locating an item quickly. For example, in you clothes closet keep your clothes in color order within a category such as pants or tops. As far as alphabetical order, put your spices in alphabetical order in a drawer, or alphabetical groupings on a Lazy Susan. In both of these cases, the color order or alphabetical order is simple and requires no memory of how the system works.