This week I am morphing the Saturday Solution into a blog post because this topic – our personal “operating system” – goes deeper than time allows in the Saturday Solution.
If you share your home with others, chances are you have different “operating systems”. This can cause some head-butting when it comes to tidying and organizing. Knowledge about our preferences and those of others can help unruffle feathers both at home and at work.
Here are some typical operating systems and how we may cater for them at home. As with all models, they are representative of the extreme – most people are a hybrid, with a preference for one characteristic when it comes to organizing their environment and their tasks.
1) Need to see it –vs– Hide it away
Need to see it – You need to have things out so you can see what you have, or have to do. For example, if you are in a rush and something needs to go on the food shopping list, you may leave the empty container on the counter to remind you to put it on the list when you come back home. If you have three projects to work on at your desk, you may have those three folders open in front of you to remind you of what you need to do.
Hide it away – Seeing a roomful of ‘things’ is visual clutter and a distraction for you. You may need to put things into cupboards or drawers before you can think clearly or relax.
Solution: 1) Be curious about your partner’s/children’s needs and then search for creative solutions. 2) Negotiate. For example, if your child feels comforted by seeing all their toys, agree on a time frame for having everything out before choosing one or two to play with; you will need to facilitate this for younger children, and provide occasional reminders for older children.
2) Type A –vs– Type B Personality
Type A – impatient, high achiever, competitive, procrastinator, easily feels overwhelmed, likes to be in control. Solution: 1) Regularly praise Type A’s for their organizing activities. 2) Have them write everything they want/need to do in one place, like a spiral-bound notebook, on a chalkboard, or on Evernote, instead of on scraps of paper. Every day, have them choose their top 3 priorities and put these on a Post-It note where it is easily seen(a new Post-It every day).
Type B – laid back, patient, collaborative, creative, enjoys games, goes with the flow, prefers “organized chaos”. Solution: 1) Sort closets by arranging clothes and accessories by color and season. 2) Open storage systems work well – create a system of colored bins or boxes in a bookcase or baskets on shelves. 3) Short-term organizing sessions allow flexibility within the day so tidy and organize in half-hour bursts, maybe with music on in the background.
2) Left brain –vs– Right brain
Left-brained people are logical, analytical, organized and systematic. Solution: Encourage the left-brainers in your household to come up with an organizing system that suits their habits and preferences. For example, if the first thing they do when they come through the door is kick off their shoes but they want those shoes handy for another day, ask if they prefer a shoe rack by the door or a bankers box or tote on the steps to take upstairs,… then make it happen.
Right-brained people are creative, intuitive, expressive, thoughtful, and do things randomly. Solution: Give the right-brainers in your home the opportunity to choose an item or place for their possessions that resonates with their artistic or creative side. For example, give a teen the opportunity to find or make something unique for hanging or storing her jewelry.
Some general suggestions:
- Create “zones”, where each person’s essential items have a home. For example, a bedroom may have four zones: sleeping, reading, dressing and working.
- Organize the space to fit the needs of the person who mainly uses that space. For instance, organize the kitchen for the cook in the house, the desk for the one who pays bills, etc.
- Labeling helps ensure that everyone is following the same system. For example, label the front edges of kitchen shelves so everyone knows where to put things. You can also create a one-page file index that shows where to find everything – make sure it is kept in an easy-to-access spot.
Finally, whatever your preference and that of those around you, if you all approach your tidying and organizational challenges from a place of curiosity and enjoy learning about different personality traits, you’ll have way more fun than if you see them as problems.
If you’re still unsure which approach is right for the folks in your household, arrange a one-hour Virtual Organizing (VO) session, and I’ll help you come up with possible solutions. VO is done via a video app (e.g. Skype), email or phone. Email me at Ellia (at) ThePotentialCenter.com or contact me through www.ThePotentialCenter.com to arrange a VO session.