Do you waste time trying to find things? Apparently, we lose nearly an hour a day looking for things. That sounds quiet extreme to me, but research confirms we waste lots of time trying to find things. The good news is that we can save time by being better organised. Let’s first touch on an important misnomer. Being tidy is not the same as being organised. One office survey found – “people who say they keep a ‘very neat’ desk at work spend an average of 36% more time looking for things than people who say they keep a ‘fairly messy’ desk” (Abrahamson & Freedman). Six principles for saving time by being organised:
1. A place for everything and everything in its placeIf there was only one principle for getting organised this would be it – A place for everything and everything in its place. Take something as simple as your keys. If you always store your keys in the same place, you will always know how to quickly retrieve them. Likewise, for items in your wallet, your bag, and wardrobe, your emails, kitchen and files at work.
2. The most used items need to be the most accessible.In the past I have worked on designing warehouse management systems, and one of the most important principles we used is – put the fasting moving items in the most accessible places. The same principle can be applied to everyday life. The stuff you need all the time should be placed in a place that you can get at quickly. Conversely, the stuff you rarely used can be packed well away (e.g – in the garage, the back of the cupboard or put into storage).
3. Keep ‘related’ items close to each otherKeeping like items together makes it easier to find and retrieve items. Most people already do this intuitively. For example – putting the sporting equipment together, the stationary together, all the breakfast foods together, etc.
4. Make a record when necessaryFor those that need to (and you know who you are) - make a file to record where you have stored things.
5. Focus on being organised rather than tidyTidy is nice, but if you want to save time then being organised is better. (Of course, you can be both tidy and organised).
6. Less is best – the less you have the easier it is to be organised.“A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away” (Antoine de Saint-Exupery) I think the principle of the above quote can be applied to material possessions as well. Ideally, we only have what we need – no more, no less. Get rid of the things you don’t need, and only have what you absolutely need. In general, the less you have the easier it is to be organised and save time finding things. A quote for the messy ones ... “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what then is an empty desk?” (Albert Einstein) References Abrahamson & Freedman, “A Perfect Mess – the hidden benefit of disorder”, Little Brown and Co., 2006.