For one of his T2G projects, Andy has had to write a process that stores virtual stuff, and organises it properly. He told me after he’d finished designing it that since he didn’t know how to organise stuff himself, he just thought – What Would Dru Do? Thus resulted in a long conversation about a metaphorical warehouse, with a metaphorical care-taker, guards and accountant, and how without the organising structure the caretaker was a bit of a dick.
But that (while interesting, and something I may write about other time) is not the purpose of this post. My point is that I am hyper organised, and Andy is most decidedly not. I often struggle with the fact he is unable to recall even the simplest thing about where certain items are stored, that despite me telling him over and over, he still can’t operate the washing machine. This makes him sound super-useless and he’s really not. He’s just an engineer… with a short memory.
This lead to a non-fiction work on Protagonize, which again though interesting is not the purpose of this post. I’m getting there, I promise. I’ve been reading a couple of blogs on house management, life and marriage where they share their tips for smooth home living, which is the point of this post. I’m not so much organised, as I have systems, and processes for dealing with my own scatty-ness, as well as Andy’s, and I thought I would share some of those with you.
Tip 1: Label the fuck out of everything. We have a million devices in our home, with a million cables to go with them. when they are all bundled together it’s fairly impossible to tell what cable attaches to what device. It’s the same with storage boxes; they’re generally opaque, you have no idea what’s in them without searching through all of them to find what you’re after, so you label the fronts, so a quick glance is all you need. It’s the same with our kitchen cupboards. He has no idea where anything is, so they are all labelled. I bought one of these puppies just for the job, and it’s been so useful, a truly good investment.
Tip 2: Put everything into it’s own box. Or at the very least, group similar items together. All your stationary should live together in the same box, as should all those cables. That way when you want a specific thing, you can put your hand straight on it. You may also want to group things according to use. For example I keep all my radio event items in one place; they might be very different things (a cup; a video camera; long-life drink powder) but they need to stay together so I know where they are when I need them.
Tip 3: Make lists and write down everything that might be important later. This is something I’ve learnt working with G3; if it might be important to know about later, make a note of it as soon as you can. If you think of something that needs doing write it down some place you can refer back to it. For ages I use to carry around a journal that I wrote everything in (until I got my lovely smart phone that is), because the chances of me thinking of something that needed doing while I couldn’t do them was higher than the chances of me thinking of it while I was in a position to do it.
Tip 4: Make sure you give instructions in excruciating detail. Unless that person has done that same thing every day for the last year, they’ve probably forgotten how to. Make sure they know precisely what it is they are doing, and if it’s more than two items long, make sure one of your writes the instructions down.
Tip 5: Have regular clear-outs. Remember that pair of socks that had the hole in them that you just threw back in the drawer? Yeah, I’m talking about things like that. Ideally, every Spring and every Autumn you should go through your clothing, your housewares, and, well, all your stuff, and get rid of anything that’s broken, unused or no longer needed. Chuck it out, take it to the skip, or donate it to charity, but do not leave it lying around. Your house will get cluttered, and you will get annoyed. You can also use this time to put anything that’s crept out of it’s home and put it back where it belongs.
I hope that helps some of you, just as much as it’s helped me. And if you only do one thing, make sure it’s labelling all the things. I promise you will thank me later.