Sunday, October 13, 2013

Day 13: Fixing Systems: Diagnosing What's Broken.

One of our household systems: The Family Communications Centre. Believe me, it's a whole lot prettier than the laundry room, right now!

We are going to leave the problems of perfectionism and turn to looking at our household systems: those storage solutions and habits we have in place which make our every day lives easier. That is why we want to stay organized, isn't it? So we can do other things like read books and bake cookies.

To say "there's a system for that" what I mean is
  1. everything in the system has a home, there is a storage solution in place, and
  2. there is a procedure, or method of dealing with the items. (We want this to become a habit.)

This is so abstract. Think of a regular household task like paying a bill.

You have a place to keep the bill until it is paid and a place to keep the bill once it is paid. This is your storage solution.

Your routine of finding the bill, paying it, and then filing or shredding it is your procedure, or method of dealing with it.

It was like a long line of little light bulbs popped in my head when I first heard Aby make this distinction. I immediately realised that even though it wasn't working, the family communication centre I'd set up last year was fine: it's just that we had not yet developed the habit of using it. (Oddly enough, making it pretty encouraged my daughter to use it.)

Here are some other systems which you may or may not have set up in your home to your satisfaction:

Coming and Going
Family Communication Centre
Handling Mail (and other incoming paperwork)
Paying Bills and keeping track of your spending
Meal Planning
Shopping Lists and Errands
Calendar and Managing Appointments
Managing Projects and To Dos
and so on.

How do you tell if it's the storage solution or your routine which isn't working?

Well, did it ever work? Was there a time when it did--but you just haven't used it in a while?

If the answer is yes, then you need to establish a habit to use it--and I'll cover habits later in the series.

But if the answer is no, then maybe you need to change something about how you are storing the items you use. Shift papers from a file to a binder for instance, or set up a portable reading basket, or put laundry hampers in every bedroom and the bathroom. Tweaking the storage "solution" can make the whole process of creating a routine or habit more fluid and intuitive. 

I'm going to discuss some systems from the point of view of getting them set up right: that is, getting the stuff figured out over the next few days. Then, we'll turn to the habits we need to create to use them effectively (as well as staying organized, generally). (I'm listening to Charles Duhigg's book, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do. This is my second time through the book. I highly recommend it.)

Tell me, do you have any systems in your house? Any not working very well?

ETA: You can catch all the posts in the series here.

1 comment :

onshore said...

That huge calendar seems really handy! And I think it looks good too.

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