NOW WHAT?????? How do I KEEP it that way?
So far we’ve discussed a pretty easy method to get you on your path to getting your space organized, we’ve looked at these steps:
SORT: figuring out what you actually HAVE in the space
STRAIGHTEN: Putting it into some kind of order
SHINE: cleaning up the area and making it look presentable to get it organized
STANDARDIZE: Like things together, color, size, type, etc. labels on bins and shelves..etc
Looking at these steps for whatever your project breaks it down into bite sized pieces and hopefully makes it a little less overwhelming….so let’s get to the last step: the NOW WHAT? Step. Let’s talk about KEEPING it that way….the last step:
Believe it or not, this is the easiest of the 5 steps. Why? Because the first 4 steps helped you develop a plan. You now have the framework in place. You know what you did. This is a good time to revisit the steps and ask yourself “what was the hardest step for me? What step was an ‘a-ha’! Moment for me? What step made me feel the best about myself?”…looking at the steps again may give you some insight. Keeping the area organized is now something you can develop into an automatic process. Did it frustrate you to SORT everything? Did you struggle with getting the area neat when you STRAIGHTENED it? After you started to put things back did it bother you to make it neat and tidy when you SHINED it? How about STANDARDIZING everything: did it make you feel better to be able to keep like things together? Knowing which part of the process was frustrating for you and which part made you feel great, this is the key to keeping it that way…and putting the proper tools in place to SUSTAIN it.
So, what’s the magic word? It’s really not magic…it’s CONSISTENCY. Setting the standard to do it the SAME WAY every time, and taking the extra 30 seconds to put things away the first time is the key to sustainability. Companies that spend big bucks to implement the Lean Six Sigma method put the most time into this last step. They don’t take it for granted that everybody in the company (or in your case, your home) GOT IT. If this means labeling the shelves, the bins, the areas, do it. If this means getting everyone on board and showing them where everything goes (remember my pantry illustration? Labeling the bins and shelves means anyone can put the groceries away), creating a diagram or photo for the garage or closet, these may seem silly at first but seriously that’s what the big corporations do. I did one garage for a client who put labels on bins in the garage that were one color for each category/area, and put colored tape on the shelf for the same area. Put the spices away on the same shelf EVERY TIME. Fold the towels in the linen closet the same way—EVERYONE. Same medicines on the same shelf in the medicine cabinet. Knives in the kitchen drawer go in the same section with drawer dividers. Laundry soap goes on the same shelf or cabinet in the laundry room.
Once you develop the habit and remind others in the organization (ha ha, FAMILY) to do the same, it stays that way.
Remember, clutter is just delayed decision making. Once you make the decision to get things in place, the last step is to make the decision to keep it that way. It may take an extra minute or two, but it’s a lot easier to do it the same way the first time than go back and RE-do it the second.
You got this! And remember, I'm here to help.