When putting away items, clients often ask me, “Where do I put this?” I love this question because it allows me to pretend I’m a therapist and answer their question with a question of my own. (Really, there’s nothing better than paying someone 75 bucks an hour to respond to “What should I do about my marriage?” with “What do you think you should do about your marriage?” Geez – a career switch may be in order for me!)
Of course, I don’t delve into marriage problems. I’m dealing with stuff (which, by the way, can actually can create a lot of marriage problems… but that’s another blog post, my friends!) My response to “Where do I put this?” is always the same: “How often do you use it?”
Why do I ask this, you ask? (Hey, are you answering my question response to the original question with a question of your own?! Are we having an Inception moment here?)
Okay, enough. Here is the answer: Where you put your stuff should directly correspond to how often you use it. I recommend organizing all your stuff into three mystical realms:
Realm 1: Fingertip Distance – This is the realm for things you use daily or several times per week. For example, I’m a coffee drinker; thus, my coffee cups are in an easy-to-access cupboard directly above my counter.
If you’re organizing an office, think of this realm as “swivel distance,” meaning the things you need to readily access in your office (general reference files, stapler, pens, etc.) should be within swivel distance of your chair. Nobody–and I mean nobody–will actually get out of their chair to file documents. Not even me.
When I was teaching, I always wondered why my “To File” file was constantly backed up. The reason? My filing cabinets were located across the room from my desk. If only I’d had the sense to get a custodian to move the cabinet next to my desk, I’d have had a much less cluttered workspace. (Side note: If you have a “To File” file–and you don’t have a person whose job it is to file those things for you–you probably need to rearrange your office to bring those filing cabinets closer to you.)
Realm 2: Reach/Crouch Distance – This realm is for the things you use about once or twice a month or every few months. You’re willing to climb up on a step stool or crouch down to reach them. In my kitchen, things like the Crock-Pot, food processor, and cupcake tin are in reach/crouch distance.
In an office, this would be things like the stockpile of sticky notes you need to access whenever you run out of sticky notes at your desk. (The one pad of sticky notes at your desk? That’s fingertip distance… and yes, I said one pad, people. You don’t need a collection of half-used sticky note pads flapping around your desk like a colorful flock of lost birds.)
Realm 3: Expedition Distance – Ready to go on a journey? You better be, to find this stuff! These are the things you use rarely, once or twice per year. You’re willing to climb into the attic or dig into the basement to find them. Think holiday decor, fondue makers, and the Ab Roller. (Aw, come on… you know you never use that Ab Roller. Donate it! But you’re right, it did look awesome on TV and it did come with that free portable wheatgrass juicer… which also looked awesome on TV. In the words of Princess Elsa: Let it go, Let it go, Don’t keep that Ab Roller in your attic anymore… I may be improvising a bit here.) In my house, this amazing Santa belly cheese ball holder is in expedition distance.
This guy is well-worth the trek every season. Who wouldn’t want to eat a ball-shaped, cream-cheesy, high-in-saturated-fat-and-yum concoction out of that belly? Just thinking about it makes me want to don a holiday sweater, drink a few bright red cocktails, and sidle up to the buffet table…
I hope demystifying the three mystical realms has helped you figure out the best placement for the items you use and love. Happy organizing, and feel free to send me a good cheese ball recipe, if you have one… Santa’s lookin’ hungry.
Rose Lounsbury is the Dayton, Ohio area’s up-and-coming professional organizer. A mother of triplets and former teacher, Rose uses the philosophy of minimalism to help clients de-clutter and de-stress their lives. What started as a blog about her personal journey toward a simpler lifestyle has turned into a career centered on helping others find calm amidst the chaos. If you’d like to have Rose help you with an organizing project at your home or office, please call her at 937-626-9030.