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10 Nov

A shared surface is not the same as a specific spot

Datum: 2021-11-10 13:30

Even if the item we need to save and store is not flat so that you can hole-punch it and file it away in a binder, we still need to keep it since we use it from time to time, although we do not want to look for it every time we need it. It can for instance be a bag con­tain­ing a demo kit, an extra quite large roll of pack­ing tape, an exter­nal hard dri­ve, a spe­cial knife, a gad­get of some kind, or some­thing else. In con­clu­sion, we all use tools and things which we can­not put in binders or fold­ers, or what­ev­er stor­age solu­tion we have cho­sen for our paper materials.

When we begin to struc­ture our work­space we will soon expe­ri­ence how won­der­ful­ly sim­pli­fy­ing it is when each item gets its own des­ig­nat­ed place, and there is one place for each item. Some­thing is put on a shelf, some­thing else in a com­part­ment. One para­pher­na­lia fits per­fect­ly in one of our draw­ers and anoth­er giz­mo fits like a glove in a small box.

But what about this one”? The thing we have in our hand right now. Where does this go? Oh well, I’ll just put it here; on the desk or on the floor. That seems like a good place to leave it.”.


Avoid the ambigu­ous surface
It is not the best idea to give an item a place which is on a sur­face also used for oth­er pur­pos­es than stor­age. If the thing goes miss­ing it will not imme­di­ate­ly be appar­ent to us that it is gone since the place you keep it in is not emp­ty, but filled with oth­er items as well. And when we are about to put the thing down after using it, we might have to choose anoth­er place to put it if we have already placed some­thing else in its des­ig­nat­ed spot.

This is why we need to make things eas­i­er for our­selves and clar­i­fy where we should place things by des­ig­nat­ing spe­cif­ic loca­tions for them.

Do this

  1. If you are cur­rent­ly sit­ting in your office, take a look around.

  2. Do you have an item which is impor­tant to you in your work but which just stands on a sur­face, and which would become much eas­i­er to keep track of if the place it is stand­ing in was des­ig­nat­ed for this item alone?

  3. Choose one way to des­ig­nate this par­tic­u­lar place for the item you have in mind. You could for instance:
    • paste a label to the place
    • cre­ate a neat sign
    • draw a box mark­ing the spot or cir­cle it using tape, paint, pen­cils or chalk
    • place anoth­er mate­r­i­al under­neath it to mark the spot, such as a paper in a devi­at­ing col­or, or a coast­er or mat which pro­tects the sur­face under­neath the item.

  4. Do what you have to do to reserve the place for the item right now, or for­mu­late a to-do-tasks if you choose to do it later.

No more search­ing, but more finding
If you clear­ly mark the des­ig­nat­ed place for things which you tend to place on the desk or on the floor, you will be able to deter­mine if they are miss­ing before you need them. And when you want to use them they will be avail­able more often than they usu­al­ly are. It will feel more sat­is­fy­ing to clean and get your office orga­nized when it becomes this easy to con­firm that things are in their places. You spend less time look­ing for lost objects and do not have to waste time search­ing for things when it is most incon­ve­nient to do so.

What was your method?
How did you label or mark the spot for the thing which is placed in a sur­face used for more than one pur­pose? Tell me!