Everything has a home and no visitors allowed.
It is such a simple concept, yet it has helped hundreds of people become more organized in their workplace. As our Certified Productivity Coaches go out and work with clients, they help people build a system on how to organize things in their workplace.
Perhaps you have drawers that are stuffed full of all sorts of “miscellaneous” items. This sort of disorganization and clutter has a very real impact on your productivity.
I am not an organized person by nature. It is my tendency to create chaos everywhere I go. I used to be one of those people who believed that “it may not look organized, but at least I know where it is.”
After changing my pattern of behavior, I can tell you that I wasn’t fooling anyone except myself. I can now find things faster, and my stress levels are lower when to work in my clutter-free office. When everything has a home, it is easy to find things, it is faster to find things, and there is less retracing of steps. This means there is less active switchtasking.
Here are a few suggestions on how to get started with making sure that everything has a home with no visitors allowed:
1. A home has walls. Setting a pile on a desk and calling it a home, does not make it a home. There must be some sort of boundary that allows to you clearly see where the home for pens ends and the home for paper clips starts.
2. Homes must be accessible. The more often you need to get to an item, the closer at hand it needs to be. Many people store receipts that are several years old in the cabinet right next to them, but must cross the room daily to reach the calculator they use daily.. If you need to get to particular items repeatedly throughout the day, keep the home close at hand. If you don’t need to get items from a home more than once per month, you may want to move the home out of your office.
3. Label your homes. Even suggesting this goes against my grain. Initially, the concept of having labels for every item in my office made the nonconformist in me cringe. However, by labeling the homes for items, you’ll find, as I did, that it is faster and easier to find the items. More importantly, when something needs to be put away the labels will tell you where it belongs instead of you having to remember. Additionally, when someone else needs to come into your office and find an item, it makes it faster and easier for them to locate what they are looking for.
4. No visitors allowed. Even one visitor in the home for your items will break the system. This is because the one time you need that one item and it isn’t in its proper home, you are going to lose valuable time searching for it. Regularly scan all your homes and make sure there are no visitors. If you find one, make a new home for it.