Welcome to Day 3 of . . .
“One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.”
-- A.A. Milne
Today we’re going to veer off in another “spring cleaning” direction and talk about . . . paperwork management and maintaining a tidy home office. (It may not involve sudsy water or citrus-smelling spray bottles, but clearing the clutter of paperwork is very much part of spring cleaning.)
Now, I’m an organized person. I always know where my stuff IS, and I can find whatever I need without any problem. But . . . I’m not your typical “organized person.” (I don’t use a fancy filing system, for example. It’s more of a completely functional . . . piling system.) I’ve always known this about myself. But now, I understand why! I discovered organizational management consultant Cassandra (Cas) Aarssen of Clutterbug - and she tells me something I’ve known all along . . . that “Organization is not one-size-fits-all.”
Cas explains that what works for some people organization-wise doesn’t necessarily work for others. She has discovered that there are four distinct organizing styles, and only one of these matches up with “traditional” office organization structures. Which means . . . if you happen to be in one of the other three groups, and you don’t organize in the “traditional” way, it will be especially challenging to design a work space for yourself that stays tidy in the long term.
“Almost all organizing products and systems are designed with the traditional organizing style in mind, and if your brain doesn’t work that way, then the system is never going to work for you! This is especially true when attempting to organize and maintain paperwork, which is why so many people struggle to organize a home office effectively.
--- Cassandra Aarssen
According to Cas, there are four different organizing styles, and it’s pretty simple to self-identify which style you relate to. (Her website does include a quiz, in case you're having a hard time with the self-identification thing.)
First, there are two types of organizers -- visual and hidden.
- Visual organizers love to see their important and everyday used items, and often suffer from “out of sight, out of mind.”
- Hidden organizers, on the other hand, crave visual simplicity. They prefer to store their everyday items out of sight, such as in closets or cabinets.
Then, there are two ways your brain naturally processes information.
- Micro organizers tend to be detail-oriented people who crave order and are natural planners. They prefer lots of categories and like to be able to find their items quickly. They tend to take a few extra seconds to put things away properly.
- Macro organizers tend to be big-picture thinkers who like to focus on end results and are natural dreamers. They like to put things away quickly, and would prefer to spend their “extra seconds” finding an item when they need it.
Cas has identified the four organizing styles (with catchy little “bug” names to go along with her “clutterbug” theme) (it took me way too long to figure out that connection).
- Hidden, micro organizers are Crickets.
- Visual, micro organizers are Bees.
- Hidden, macro organizers are Ladybugs.
- Visual, macro organizers are Butterflies.
Once you figure out your natural organizing tendencies, you can set up organizing systems in your home that complement your style and finally help you get organized . . . for good. (Or, at least, in a way that has a greater potential to work better for you.)
Turns out that so many people struggle with paper-organization because . . . most paper-organization systems are designed with Crickets in mind. Traditional paper filing systems with multiple categories just don’t work for macro-thinking Ladybugs and Butterflies. A macro organizer is rarely going to take the time to stop and file paper into different folders, so the paper gets stacked up (Butterflies) or shoved and hidden away (Ladybugs). And filing systems stored out of sight will not work for visual organizers like Butterflies or Bees. Visual organizers need to see their paper, so filing cabinets and file folders rarely work for these organizing styles.
Learning this . . . has been so helpful and affirming for me. Yep. I’m a Butterfly when it comes to organizing paper (and other stuff, generally). I’m not scattered. I’m not messy. I just like to . . . keep things where I can see them! (Once I file things away in my filing cabinet - which I DO have, by the way - it's like going into a vault. I can retrieve it, but I probably won't need to anytime soon.)
If you struggle with keeping your home office organized and tidy, you might want to check out Cas’ website. She offers information, advice, and suggestions (even that quiz) that can help you structure your own home organization system . . . one that will work for you!
I know many of you probably feel heart palpitations or get an eye twitch when you see that photo of my home work desk. All that stuff . . . just everywhere. But after learning more about my own organizing style, I tucked my office into a little-used space in a guest room, got some open shelving for my desk, and a cart where I can keep all my paper stacks. It’s working. And, best of all, I don’t feel bad about it anymore.
How about YOU? Can you identify your organizing style? And does it match up with the way you organize your paperwork?
Spring Cleaning Tip of the Day
Organize your most important papers in binders for easy grab-and-go in case of an emergency. For example, if there was a medical emergency, you could grab your medical binder and have all the information you need immediately. Here are some top binder categories:
Medical: This binder is where your family's medical records are kept. If you ever need to go to a new doctor or if you have a complex medical diagnosis, everything is organized in one spot.
Pet: This binder should contain your pets' medical records, shot records and medications.
Auto: This binder is designated for all car repairs, maintenance records and car insurance papers.
Manuals: Store your manuals in one place in this binder. You can even separate the binder by sub-categories, such as appliances, electronics, garden and house.
House: Store all house-related information here, such as maintenance, pest control, security system and contact numbers for handymen.
Personal: This binder can store anything else that doesn't fit in another category or file.
(Today's tip is from HGTV Lifestyle.)
Have a good spring cleaning - or home organizing - tip of your own - or some spring cleaning advice you'd like to share? Please pass it along in the comments -- and I'll share in my post on Friday!
Links to other posts in my Spring Cleaning series:
An Introduction and Some History of Spring Cleaning
Rolling Up Your Sleeves and Coming Up With Your Strategy