28 Days To Living Organized – Day 4 – Solution Brainstorming

28 days to Living Organized

Solution Brainstorming

We’ve identified the cause of the issue. In my case, an inconveniently located filing system.  Now it’s time to brainstorm some solutions.  This is just like the brainstorming sessions you learned about in school or at work.  No idea is out of bounds.  Some ideas, after we analyze them, will present themselves as not really achievable.  That’s okay.  The point is to get as many ideas down as possible.  Even something absurd might stir the creative juices on to something innovative that will really work.

I’m going to break my ideas down into two categories.  I think this is a good idea for most projects.
1. change the environment
2. change the habit

My brainstorm….
Q: How can I change my environment or routine to keep my kitchen island clear of clutter

For this exercise I got my husband involved.  What you see below are a mixture of our ideas.

  • Move my filing cabinet from upstairs to the kitchen (ENVIRONMENT)
  • Create a new filing cabinet/space in the kitchen (ENVIRONMENT)
  • Stop keeping paperwork/filing – trash/recycle everything – go paperless (HABIT)
  • Teach my kids how to file (ENVIRONMENT)
  • Get rid of the kids so I have more time/energy to file daily (ENVIRONMENT)
  • Make going upstairs to file the first thing I do a fter opening mail (HABIT)
  • File paperwork every night before bed (HABIT)
  • File every other day at bedtime (HABIT)
  • Move things upstairs every night without filing and put in a temporary “to be filed” basket and then schedule a once a week “filing time” (HABIT with a bit of ENVIRONMENT change)

Tomorrow we’ll evaluate these ideas and pick one

28 Days To Living Organized – Day 3 – Root Cause Analysis

28 days to Living Organized

Root Cause Analysis

In the corporate world there are a lot of different techniques used to identify the root cause of issues – 5 Whys, Fishbone Diagrams, Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) – the list goes on from there.

And these all have their place. I’ve been known to use them from time to time when needed. In general, I think that when it comes to most problems in our homes, most of us already instinctively know the cause. But to make sure we are getting to the REAL issue, not just the immediately visible issue, we are going to employ the 5 WHYS to this problem.

It’s simple. State the problem. Ask yourself why that happens. Get an answer. Ask why that happens. Etc, etc, etc until you have asked “why” 5 times. See – easy peasy.

1. Why do I have clutter on my kitchen island?
Answer – because I put things there and then never move them

2. Why do I put things on the kitchen island and never move them?
Answer – This gets a bit tricker. There could be several reasons. Among my reasons could be:
a) I’m lazy.
b) Moving things isn’t a priority over other things in my life.
c) I don’t have a place to put them.
d) I don’t have make time to properly take care of the items.
For the purposes of this exercise, I’m going to focus on D. I don’t MAKE time to properly take care of the items.

3. Why don’t I make time to put things away?
Answer Note: From this point forward, I’m focusing on the FILING & MISPLACED issues for this since those are the biggest culprits. I’ll need to go back and do these same process for the ACTION NEEDED issue.
My filing cabinet is upstairs in a room that’s basically off-limits to the kids because of all the computer & office stuff in it so it’s too difficult to get up there and take the time to file when they are home with me (which is, um, almost always).

4. Why is the filing cabinet upstairs in a room that’s hard to go to?
Answer – Because we put it there when we first moved into the house (before kids) and that spare room made a nice office.

5. In this example there is no need for WHY #5.
I’ve reached my root cause right there in #4. Sometimes that happens. Sometimes you need 6 or 7 whys. But 5 is usually enough.
The thing stopping me from doing my filing is that the filing cabinet is in a location that’s inconvenient. Aha! I know, I know… it seems like common sense. But sometimes a process like this one can really help you through a logic road block.

Now the question is WHAT am I going to do to fix my problem? Will I move the filing cabinet? Will I give away the kids? Let’s think about that overnight tonight.

28 Days To Living Organized – Day 2 – Assess the Situation

28 days to Living Organized

Assess the Situation

We have admitted there is a problem. I recognize that my kitchen island is a collector of clutter. That’s a good first step but in order to actually work toward a solution we need to assess the problem in more detail.
What this means is actually looking at the clutter that’s there and putting a name & category on each thing.
Here’s what is there today…
  • Utility bill statements (not bills, just statements)
  • Investment account statements
  • Bills to be paid
  • Statement stubs from paid bills
  • Children’s books to be given to charity
  • A calendar I bought for my mom (2010 – hmmm…. Probably should have sent that already)
  • An HOA letter that needs to be acted upon
  • A contractor bid that needs to be acted upon and filed
  • Hair clips & rubber bands for my daughter
If I had to categorize these, I could come up with three general categories.
  3. MISPLACED ITEMS (not in the right home)
Tomorrow we’ll dig deeper into our solutions.

28 Days To Living Organized – Day 1 – Admit the Problem

28 days to Living Organized
Admit the Problem

What is your problem area? We all have them – even the most got-it-together-gal has a spot in her house that makes her cringe.
Our first step is identifying the issue and admitting to yourself. And if you are brave enough – to the blogging world.
You know when I asked the question “what is your problem area” that something in your house popped into your mind. Start there. Or, if you have so many places that you aren’t sure where to start, I have a suggestion…. start at the place you first go to when you enter your home. That’s my spot. I’m going to be working this through with you this month.
Here is my problem area (at least the one I’m going to share this month)… My Kitchen Island.
My name is Suzanne and I have a problem with clutter on my kitchen island.

Now you try it….
I’ll wait….
There you go…. That feels good to admit, doesn’t it. Come back tomorrow as we decide to take the next step in moving from problem to solution. If you want to play along at home feel free to link your blog here using McLinky or by commenting.

28 Days To Recover Your Delightfully Organized Life

So, did you spend January carrying out your New Year’s Resolution to get organized? How is that working out? Is your life more peaceful, enjoyable and easier on a day to day basis? I hope so!
But for the rest of us….. I introduce you to my plan for February…
28 days to Living Organized
Why should you take on this challenge? Why not? What do you have to lose except a small (or large) amount of your frustration on a daily basis.

Getting organized or Living organized?

One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is to “get organized.” It sounds so simple. Head to the store, buy a few dozen storage containers of various shapes and sizes and cram as much stuff into them as you possibly can. Voila! You are now organized. You’ve reached your goal of getting organized.

But is that really your goal? A month later when you are looking for, oh, say, the wrapping paper for that birthday party that’s coming up this weekend (or this afternoon!) can you find it? You’re sure it’s in one of those nifty storage containers. But which one? The ones you put in the basement or the spare bedroom? So instead of digging through them all you decided to just stop at the store and grab an easy gift bag and a package of tissue paper. You ignore the nagging guilt that you already have 25 gift bags and mounds of tissue paper somewhere in your house. Instead, you are just happy to be only a few minutes late to the party with a gift that has some kind of wrapper.

Does that sound like organization to you? Not to me.

Getting organized is, in my opinion, a fruitless and frustrating goal. It can be expensive both in the short term (those bins can add up quickly) and in the long term (you can’t find what you need so you buy a new one). And at the end of the year you feel frustrated that yet again, you are surrounded by a mass of things with no rhyme or reason to their locations.

Instead, let’s make our goal LIVING organized. This is not a one-time event. This is the rhythm of your daily life played out in a less cluttered, more streamlined way.

Join me as we live our lives more organized this year.


Part of being well organized is knowing what you don’t know and being willing to learn from others. For example, I know how to make things work in a space. But when it comes to making things beautiful, I need help.
Today I’m going to direct you to some of the inspired, creative bloggers I have delightedly stumbled upon and become enamored with. While these are not strictly about organizing, their creative ideas may just inspire you to create a delightfully organized life for yourself so that you may enjoy making some of their ideas your own.

In Layla’s own words:
My Philosophy
“My intention, and overall design philosophy, is to create beautiful, functional, comfortable, inspiring interiors that make you FEEL. Rooms you can’t look away from without a fight.”

The Nesting Place
“It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.”

The Project Girl
“Join me as I create fun and useful projects, explore beauty around me, and design some beautiful stuff of my own. “

Hoosier Homemade
“Making Your House a Home”
Happy Reading!

Quick Tip Thursday

Ann Landers Golden Rules for Living

If you open it, close it.
If you turn it on, turn it off.
If you unlock it, lock it up.
If you break it, admit it.
If you can’t fix it, call someone who can.
If you borrow it, return it.
If you value it, take care of it.
If you make a mess, clean it up.
If you move it, put it back.
If it belongs to someone else, get permission to use it.
If you don’t know how to operate it, leave it alone.
If it’s none of your business, don’t ask questions.

If only we could remember to follow these ourselves each day (and perhaps convince our family members to do the same) I imagine we would all have a life more organized.

Organizing Gaffe

I found this product at Solutions and I just cannot fathom it being a good idea in most homes. I like things that are easy and convenient. I like organizing up off the ground whenever possible. I’m not such a fan of personal care products on display with the exception of some lovely perfume bottles or the like. Toilet paper as decor – not so much.

I suppose this could be used in a very private bathroom such as a Master Bath. But even then, do you really want to stare at toilet paper while doing your business? I’m going with no.

If you are worried your guests will need an extra roll while visiting, then put on a new roll before they arrive and save them the hassle of digging through your cabinets.

There are many ways to discreetly store your extra rolls – in a cabinet or in an opaque container next to the toilet. Here are a few of them:

Banana Leaf Toilet Paper Holder

Basket to sit on back of toilet

Taking Cues From The Workplace

When trying to run a household or home office we often try to find others who have done so successfully and copy from them. But there are so many other areas we can learn from. Managing a home and family shares a lot of similarities to running a business. Why not try to glean some tips and tricks and good principles from those who manage spaces as part of their job?

Here are some basic good housekeeping principles for an office or manufacturing environment.

  1. Clean, organize & achieve as you go.
  2. Stack materials neatly – place heavy of bulky items on the bottom and do not stack items too high.
  3. Keep cabinet doors and drawers closed.
  4. Return chemicals, equipment and tools to their proper place after use.
  5. Keep floors free of clutter.
  6. Keep stairs, aisles & walkways clear.
  7. Follow proper cleaning & maintenance procedures.
  8. Utilize regular inspection check lists.
  9. Dispose of materials, trash and/or recyclables properly in appropriate containrs.
  10. Place service calls to get housekeeping issues repaired, replaced or removed.
  11. If you notice a housekeeping issue – take action to get it addressed.

Do you see any similarities from the housekeeping principles employed in a manufacturing environment and those we should be employing in our homes?