Keep It Simple

systems Jan 23, 2021

One of my favorite aspects of organizing is breaking tasks down into their simplest form.  When I was at the beginning stages of getting organized, I would set up elaborate systems.  I somehow equated systems with many steps as being more organized.  However, I quickly realized that the best functioning systems are exactly the opposite.  The less steps the better.  The easier the system was to use, the more likely I was to stick with it. 

Let’s say you want a place to keep all your receipts together so that you know where to find one should you need it.  You find a container that will work.  It’s the right size and, as a bonus, it matches your décor.  It even has a pretty lid that snaps into place, keeping everything together neatly.  It looks like you are good to go.  You put the small stack of receipts you had laying on the counter into the container and smile. 

 The next day, you run errands and have a few receipts to put away.  You empty the bags and set the receipts on the counter.  You’ll put the receipts in the new designated container in a minute.  Then you get sidetracked.  And the receipts remain on the counter.  Eventually, you get around to putting the receipts away, three days later.  But hey, they are where they go, right?  Absolutely.  But let’s imagine this scenario another way. 

You are looking for a place to store your receipts.  Normally, when you bring shopping bags into the house, your first stop is the kitchen counter.  The counter top tends to be the dumping ground for items, and it’s especially easy to just put the receipts there as you empty the shopping bags.  So, you find a basket that fits well on the counter, near where you empty the bags, and as you unload your items you simply put the receipts in the basket.

 There was nothing wrong with the pretty container with the lid – it did its job of holding the receipts.  But it turns out the lid made the container less effective than the basket because the lid added two additional steps; it had to be removed and replaced.  Sometimes, just eliminating a step or two makes all the difference in whether we succeed in doing something or not. 

 I realize this may seem like a such a small organizing challenge, but the message is the same as with bigger organizing projects – the simpler the system, the easier it is to maintain.

 By the way, that was a true story.  It was just one of many of my learning experiences.  I hope it will help the next time you are setting up a system of your own.  Just remember, eliminating any unnecessary steps will make it more likely you will follow through with your process.

‘til next time,


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