Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Logical Homes: Part Two
When I taught the concept of logical homes to my elementary school students, I asked them to imagine they'd just returned from a trip to a warehouse store, like Costco, BJ's or Sam's Club. As they unloaded everything they (or their parents) had purchased, they managed to find homes for everything except a large multi-pack of toilet paper. Since it was too big to stash anywhere in its wrapped state, they'd need to open it up and put away individual rolls. After storing some of the rolls in the bathroom, and putting most of the rest in a nearby closet, they still had several rolls that needed to be put somewhere. Desperate, they returned to the kitchen, opened the oven door, and, finding the oven empty, decided to stash the remaining rolls of toilet paper in the oven.

Needless to say, even ten-year-olds recognized the foolishness of this decision.

While I doubt that any of you routinely use your oven as storage for toilet paper, I suspect that there's at least one item in your house that's stored in an out-of-the-way place simply because that's where there was room. If you're an I know I put it somewhere person, chances are that's the rule, rather than the exception.

Which brings me back to where we left off last week: logical homes. As always, your personal and organizational styles should set the parameters. A home is not logical if it doesn't work for your styles, and your logical homes might not be logical to someone else (just ask my husband). While we want to move away from actual cramming and jamming and dropping and running, we need to honor those tendencies as we select permanent homes for our things -- especially those we use on a daily basis.

With that in mind, here's an expansion on the bullet points from last week's post.
  • Store things that are used every day in places that are easy to access. "Easy" should be defined by the style(s) of the person who most often uses the item. My husband loves filing cabinets, so his papers are stored there. This works for his I know I put it somewhere style because since nearly all of his papers end up in the file cabinet (somewhere), he needs to look in only one place when he's looking for papers.                                               Notice that I said his papers. As an I need to see it/drop and run person, I see little functional difference between a file cabinet and a trash can -- both put my papers out of sight, rendering bothcontainers useless as storage spaces (unless I really intend to throw the papers away, which renders the storage issue moot). Unless I create a more visual filing system for my  frequently used papers, they end up in a pile on my desk (or the dining room table), where I can see them, and remember to take care of them. For me, a filing cabinet is a logical home for papers I need to reference, but not for those I use regularly.
  • Choose a storage solution (container and location) that makes it as easy to put things away as it is to put them down. The more difficult it is to put something away, the less likely it is that it’ll end up where it belongs. How often have you set something aside to put away "later" because it's too complicated or time consuming to put it where it "belongs"? That's a sure sign that the place where it's currently stored might not be the right home for it.
  • Store things where you use them...or drop them...or naturally put them. When you get the mail each day, where do you put it down? Your mail storage should be located as close as possible to that spot. Frequently used items get prime real estate -- that's why the toothpaste goes in the bathroom near the toothbrushes, but the out-of-season linens go on the top shelf of the hall closet. The less often you use something, the more out-of-the-way it can be stored. (There's a reason we store seasonal items in the attic and the garage, often on high shelves). This isn't laziness -- it's maintenance. The easier it is to put something away, the more likely it is that things will be put where they belong. Simply changing the arrangement of the bins in my bathroom closet solved the bathroom counter clutter problem at my house, but to make that happen, I had to think about who was using the system. I liked it the way it was -- but not so much that it was worth picking up after an able-bodied teenager. Remember that the goal is to establish a system that's not only easy to use, but easy to maintain.
  • Store similar items together: As with my husband's filing cabinet, if all of the similar items are stored together, you only need to look in one place when you need to find anything in that category. If you need multiples of an item (e.g. a stapler), consider buying duplicates or storing them with other related items in a mobile container (such as a basket with a handle) so that they're easily moved from location to location and you don't waste storage space by storing the same item in multiple locations. Again, style is key. I am so guilty of office supplies in multiple locations in the house, but that has more to do with my office supply obsession than my organization entirely different blog post.  
So what do we do when the necessary permanent storage space (e.g. closet) isn't working? More on that next week.

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