Putting Things in the Same Place
Ever had trouble finding something? The answer is here - a revolutionary new technique, ancient and re-discovered by you. It's called: putting things back in the same place.
But you don't have a designated place for everything? Hey, that's always a work in progress, and ever evolving. Meanwhile we have to get on with things and either put things back where we found them, or make a decision about its new designated place.
Start with the basics: your keys, your phone, your bag. This is stuff you need to find every day, maybe many times a day.
There usually only needs to be one place in your home where you put these things, unless you have to carry your phone and keys around with you from room to room. In that case, make it the same place always in each room. It might be the hall table, a shelf or spot in the kitchen, your dresser or your desk.
Charging your phone in the same place always and at the same time makes sense. I charge mine overnight on my bedside table and use it as an alarm clock as well.
Speaking of phones, I also have a designated pocket for it in my bag, and have made sure it rings loud enough for me to hear it in there.
I recently had another shot at organizing my pantry. The amazing new system I have introduced is labels on the shelves to say which items go where. This at least allows us all to see where to put something back, and where to find it (if it's been put back in the correct place). I just used strips of masking tape to write the labels with, as it's easily moved and doesn't leave a mark.
The masking tape label, or whatever other ingenious label you may dream up, is great for other places too, like marking what goes in each drawer or cupboard and so on. Ok, so it doesn't look great, but it looks better than junk everywhere and is better than not being able to find things.
The idea is that the label moves if the designated place moves, and you only need to keep the label as long as it takes for everyone in your household to get into the habit of putting the item in the correct place each time it is used.
Baskets and attractive ornamental bowls or plates make great places for keys, TV remotes, sunglasses, phones and so on. A basket or bowl is an attractive way of marking a designated place as well as keeping them tidy.
Bathrooms are a place where putting things in the same place makes a big difference. The stuff you use each and every day, toothbrush, medication, brush, moisturizer, tissues and so on, needs to be easily accessible, easy to find, and not in the way. If you make a place for everything you use daily, life will be easier. The stuff used less frequently can find homes later, or fade into the background and disappear if it turns out you don't need it.
Last night whilst cooking a roast dinner I lost my pot holders no less than 5 times. They were in different places all around the kitchen, on the dining table, anywhere but on the hook. I suppose I felt that I was still using them, and putting them on the hook was a signal that I had finished with them, but if I put them there I can always find them. I thought about this article as I looked around for them.
Yesterday another school notice was handed to me while I was in the kitchen. I almost put it on top of the microwave, on top of the shopping list, then reminded myself that it goes in the school notice folder on my desk, and put it there straight away.
When a new, small, useful habit is formed, such as putting your keys, or the salt and pepper, or your sunglasses, or the dog's leash in the same place consistently, the small pleasure in finding the item easily next time you need it makes your day go that little bit better, with all the follow on effects. Doing any positive thing in our daily life, however small, is one more pebble in the happy bucket, making it that much more full.
The more you repeat something, the easier it becomes. To develop the habit of putting something in the same place each time often requires that we slow down, think, and let go of the idea that just dumping it anywhere is easier and that taking two seconds to think about where to put it is way too hard. Of course the opposite is true, and by slowing down and thinking for a few seconds, and deciding to make the more positive choice, no matter how small the decision, we are reinforcing positive thinking habits which will help us in much bigger ways as they become more familiar.
If you walk past something you see out of place, without putting it away, you are setting that example for others around you, which is unhelpful. The more your family, partner, flatmates or co workers find things in the same place, the more likely they are to put them back there themselves. Being positive and helpful about it works better than blaming.
If you know you are in a transition or temporary phase with some things, because you have not yet committed to a designated place for some items, just putting them consistently in the same pile will do for now. At least if the 'not clean but not dirty' clothes are all in one pile, and the dirty clothes are all in another pile, rather than jumbled together, when you do get around to putting them all away it will be easier. If your unopened mail is all on your desk, your unsorted junk mail is all in a pile, the rubber bands that keep mysteriously appearing are all in one pile, the dishes all at least in the kitchen, you have made a start. There is one less step in the process of dealing with that group of items.
So, where do your keys, phone and bag go? Is there more than one place? What is the smallest number of places you can narrow it down to and commit to? My keys are kept with my bag, which is either in my bedroom or on my desk, or they are in a bowl in the kitchen (because I need to use them around the house to keep my little ones out of things). If they are not in those places, my son has them in his sock drawer, where he has hidden them so he can unlock the pantry to get to the chocolate biscuits (he hasn't worked out the combination lock yet).
My phone is either with my bag, on my bedside table, or beside me in each room, the same place in each room. If I have trouble sometimes I still have to ring it to locate it. Hey, it's a work in progress.
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