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Optimize Your Starting Line: Organize/Prioritize

A place for every purpose…

Now that you’ve cleaned and de-cluttered (Just kidding! That’s part of Kaizen’s process of continual improvement), your next step is to think like the CEO/HR director: if you’ve hired all of these things for your life, as Good to Great says, once the right things are on the bus, put each in the right seats.

You see, if everything has its place, then everything has a purpose.  Yes, some purposes are petty and a waste of space and money. That too. Return to De-cluttering as needed.

What we may also find is: not all purposes have a place. For example, you may want a home office, an effective, creative environment where the crucial, meaningful work of your life gets done. Unfortunately, that room is an after-thought in your family room, or in the laundry room, or on your bed by day, and then swept onto the floor by night.

Or you may have a goal of hitting the gym in the morning but the things you need are in 8 different places, the clothes are dirty, and when you really think about it, it’s more of a “if I can fit it in” opportunity than a prime directive.

Ask Small Questions

Perhaps these aren’t that small, if they come with great implications. When you prioritize things, you should consider what is meaningful based on your experience, and which things are “hand-me-downs” from your parents, your tribe or subculture. And how valid those influences still are…

We haven’t asked you for your life goals and values (yet), but it’s an interesting thing to ponder:

That is, some people feel the need to fill every room with furniture, but that also means you may not have enough room for that cocktail party of workout routine.

Perfect Living RoomMy parents maintained a living room and dining room we almost never used. Sure they showcased some quality furniture and trinkets, and it was a chore to keep them clean and dusted, but they didn’t facilitate and promote our day-to-day life as the kitchen and family room did.

Many people grow up with several rooms like that. Some eventually inherit the house and immediately replace it all for a pool table or an artist studio. What would you do?

Even if you can’t change the layout of a room, can you reclaim some space, or re-focus the room for your priorities? For example, if you want to reduce your TV viewing time, how could you change-up the room so that the TV is not the center?

My first apartment’s kitchen was so small, my friends recommended I get a dinky fridge to match. But I liked to cook so I put a full-size refrigerator in the hallway and reclaimed my hall table as additional kitchen counter-space.

Think Small Thoughts

Stephen Covey‘s famous 4-Quadrants are really hard to beat. It has to do with prioritizing your time mostly, but its structure is also good for organizing stuff, at least in our own minds.

Covey's 4 Quadrants - Organizing

How quickly can you access important items when they become urgent? Emergency items like a first-aid kit or go-bag?

Have you given sufficient space or prominence for Quad 2: the important but not urgent? Aspiring pool sharks love that pool table in the living room idea.

Things you use outside belong in a garage, mud room, near the door. But they shouldn’t get in the way of your vehicle, doing laundry, or inviting visitors into your home.

It’s well known that the Japanese remove their shoes at the entrance of the home to keep floors clean and reduce cleaning time. Are their similar processes you might implement?

Speed Rack Concept

Ever notice the space in front of the bartender? There’s a small row of bottles with little spout tops below the ice drawer and that bento box of chopped fruit and straws, next to that drink gun with a selection of 4 or 5 drink options.

That is a speed rack. It’s that place where he puts the most important, most frequently requested items so he doesn’t have to turn his back to you to make that Sea Breeze or Sex on the Beach.

This guy is just mixing drinks and he has a speed rack. But most people won’t even consider reorganizing parts of their living spaces to facilitate the most important things of their lives!

What areas of your life deserve a speed rack?


Kitchen: If you make the same breakfast every day, why not keep the components in easy reach? Why would you put anything indiscriminately into the fridge or cupboard if they’re your go-to items.

Put all the burger condiments together on the same shelf in the fridge. Line up and keep a clean path to the kid’s cereal and make yourself a coffee station so random things aren’t knocked around every morning.

Living room: Return the TV remote in the same place (ask your family to do the same) so you don’t lose your mind looking for it.

Bathroom: Do you have a speed rack for shampoo, conditioner, soap, and such? Can you reach the towel from the shower? Can you quickly determine which toiletries need to be replenished?

Other: Where could you put your phone / electronics charging station?

ALL your regular processes should be optimized.


Schedule Continual Improvement toward Positive Results

Doing laundry: Apartment dwellers with shared laundry facilities already know the horrors. You need a ready roll of quarters and a clever schedule to facilitate stress-free laundry.

Plan to do laundry BEFORE you need the clothes. No one wants to see you wearing an old Halloween costume or prom dress to work.

If you DO share laundry facilities — which means you can’t effectively plan outings at the same time — what other regular processes work with laundry? Cleaning? Cooking meals for the week?

And when do you do laundry? Try Tuesday evenings when the laundry machines are quiet and friends assume you’re busy anyway. After all, only psychos schedule laundry for Saturday or Sunday morning.

Take Small Actions

IT Departments maintain a “Site Administration Manual” (SAM) to keep track of technical assets, network processes and procedures. Start one for your home. This could be a Word doc or a file folder or drawer where you keep the important information, owner’s manuals and such. Then once a year, perhaps after the Christmas holidays, do a file update.


Schedule Continual Improvement toward Positive Results

One weekend per month: take one hour, put on some music and pick a closet or random drawer to sort out. Clean, declutter, and organize. Leave alone important things that defy organization (you’ll know what I mean). Perhaps the right solution will come to you later.

Make a note of the things that don’t have a purpose. Can they be re-purposed? Re-located? Replaced or removed?

At the end of 12 months, with very little stress you’ll have a surprisingly organized home.

Bestow Small Rewards

If you’ve repurposed a room, if ever so slightly, invite friends over for a drink (or two) and catch up on everyone’s home or life goals. The event could be inspiring and useful since those closest to you may have great ideas to help your progress.

Your Kaizen Journey

Stay tuned for more. Until then, target another area, rinse and repeat. 

Stay in Touch

Reducing the impact of leftism, statism, and other negative influences can be difficult. Let’s do it together.

If you have suggestions for resetting our cultural conversation, or just want to be kept up-to-date, send me a question or comment.

Reset Culture

"We need to find ways to
communicate with each other."
Andrew Breitbart