When I look at the challenges that grew with the size of my family, the ability to find things is towards the top of the list. This goes beyond the typical loss of shoes and coats right before the family heads out the door. The struggle to ensure the kids can find their shoes without involving hounds and helicopters is the tip of the iceberg.
Searching for items creates a Death of One Thousand Cuts
I should probably start out with an admission that I have a touch of OCD. My wife would say I have a “touch” of OCD in the way that the Black Plague was a bit of a public health problem. Nevertheless, I look at time as our most valuable asset. We all have a limited amount and cannot buy more, we can just spend less.
Every time we have to search for a pen to take a note, an envelope to use for lunch money, or a charger for our phone, we lose time. This may be a few seconds or take minutes or even hours. In all cases, our inability to find something when we need it costs us. Since the cost is time, I have a severe view of the price we pay.
I have a job where I trade time for money so I keep a close eye on where my time goes every day. Over the years I have learned that the time lost through these little search missions adds up quickly.
Lack of Organization is the Problem
When we look closely at why we spend so much time looking for things we need, it comes down to organizing items. We have all heard about a place for everything and everything in its place. This is a gem we can all learn from. The search for an item is trivial when we know where to look. This is so simple and obvious, but how often do we lose time because we don’t have the slightest clue where an item is.
This whole issue is compounded when you have a house full of people using items and leaving them wherever. Thus, you will save yourself a lot of time and frustration by teaching organization skills. I know it feels like becoming our parents when we say “clean your room” or “hang up your coat.” However, our parents were (gasp) correct in pushing us to be organized. We knew where our things went and we knew where to find them.
Life is messy. Therefore, start with the things you can easily control. Shoes, coats, and school supplies are a perfect place to start. Designate a closet for coats. Yes, I just invented a coat closet. That’s how much I am embracing the spirit of Captain Obvious today. Shoes can be a hassle by a doorway when you have more than a few pairs so find a shoe rack for the coat closet. You can also have everyone take their things to their room. However, when you have kids sharing a room be ready for the arguments that the roommate is the source of the mess.
School and office supplies are the next big thing to organize. We may be a society moving towards technology, but kids still need pencils, pens, and crayons to do their homework. Set aside a desk or work area and make sure it is stocked with supplies. Once that is created, designate an area where extra supplies go. You may find a spot in your pantry or even assign a supplies closet. I keep cups of pens and pencils filed so the kids can quickly be pointed to the writing implement they need.
Try this out for a week or two. Add a little organization to your life and I bet you will wonder what to do with all your “free” time.