• Nancy Collins

Standard Issues

How many times have you opened what you thought was a container of something in your refrigerator and found out it wasn’t what you needed? Or pulled what you thought was a t-shirt out of the closet that turned out to be a pajama top? Or spent 10 minutes looking for a certain pair of shoes that was buried underneath a pile of boots in the closet? It’s a little maddening, isn’t it? It’s especially irritating when you are trying to get your kids out the door to an important practice, doctor appointment, or trip to grandmas and they can’t find their favorite flip flops that they absolutely HAVE to wear…Straightening up makes it look good for awhile but eventually it goes back to the way it was, and the process repeats itself. This is where the next step comes in….let’s talk about maintaining the order you’ve spent time creating. Let’s talk about the idea of standardize—doing things the same way each time, for everyone on the team (or in this case, in the house). It’s VISUAL, it’s REPEATABLE, and it’s FUNCTIONAL.

The root word here is STANDARD. Whether or not we realize it, we all have standards. We all have certain basic concepts, rules, and even thoughts that run our lives daily. You probably get up about the same time every day. You probably have roughly the same foods you like to eat all the time. Certain colors you like. Certain brands you like to use over others. And those are the ones you stick with, because those are the ones you are comfortable with and know they work for you and your family.

Organization is no different. Find the products you like to use in your organizing journey and USE THEM. A common example is clothes hangers. I cannot tell you have many closets I have organized for clients that have 6 to 8 different kinds of hangers. Having that man sizes of hangers takes up way more room in your closet, and no matter how you hang your clothes its cumbersome. Spend the money (even if you have to do it little by little) and buy the same brand, same style and same kind of hangers and you will be able to have way more room in your closets. While you’re at it, group like clothes and like shoes together in the same place. All jeans in one place. All skirts or pants in one place. Shoes? Sandals one place, athletic shoes together, boots together…small steps to standardize your closet makes it easier to find your items and easier to maintain it. A quick glance tells you exactly where everything goes and what you have on hand. Teach your family to do this too—and the bonus is they can put their own clothes away the same place ever time –no more “mom(honey) where’s my red shirt?”

How about the kitchen? Having the same type of containers in the same place each week not only makes it easier to see what you have on hand, it looks neater. Oh and the big bonus here is that anyone can tell too—no more 2 tsp. of honey left in the back of the cupboard. And no excuses when its time to unload the dishwasher or put the groceries away. You do not have to spend a lot of money on storage products, just make sure what you have works and looks the same. Ha ha, no more empty butter containers full of green beans after all in the refrigerator….

A big place standardization comes into play is paper control. So many times my clients have piles or bins or envelopes or boxes full of PAPER…bills, kids notices, medical papers, car repairs—until they pile up and just looking at the piles of paper creates a “deer in the headlights” look because its overwhelming. A simple method of color coded file folders (green for financial, blue for family papers, red for things to be death with, etc) can make the retrieving the papers when you need them so much easier….and a lot less nerve wracking when your car tags are due.

Standardization is really the heart of the organization process. When things are standardized, the system stays in place and expectations are met, and even better, achieved. It makes whatever you do go that much more quickly, and your family’s frustration level decreases dramatically (and so does yours). And wouldn't you enjoy spending your extra time having fun with your family and friends and not searching for those flip flops or emptying out butter containers of green beans?

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