Certain organizing habits, gadgets and systems are so simple or satisfying that although they are second nature to me now, they can still make me marvel when I use them.
• The Trash Bag for the Car: I completely emptied my car the other day so that I could have it detailed. This included removing the simple black trash receptacle that fastens behind the passenger seat. I was surprised at how fast little bits of trash accumulated in the few hours between the detailing and putting my trash bag back in place. The drinking straw wrapper, the apple core, the Thin Bar wrapper, the dry cleaning receipt — in just a few days a few bits of trash can become a disheartening mess. I like the leakproof High Road Trash Keeper, which sells for under $15.
• The Labeler: There’s life before the labeler and life after the labeler. I have three Brother P-Touch labelers now, all of which use the same size and type of label tape. One stays in my tool kit in my car for client sessions, one is on my desk, and another is a bit larger and has an AC adapter and more fonts. It also has the ability to use larger label tape, in case I want to make very large labels for containers in a garage or storage unit.
There are many reasons a labeler is organizationally transformative. First, uniformity and readability of the labels ups your productivity several levels. For this reason, I like black print on white tape. Second, unlike a sheet of labels configured on the computer and run through the printer, a handheld labeler is simpler, quicker and easier.
• The Hook by the Door: Ladies, if you don’t have a hook by the door for your purse yet, what are you waiting for? Occasionally, I’ll come home and feel a little rebellious, so I will plop my handbag on the dining room table, but about 10 minutes later I can’t stand how sloppy it looks and hang it up on the hooks I installed for that purpose. The Hook by the Door is a cousin of the gentleman’s Dish for the Pocket Contents and Keys. If your keys are always on the hook or in the dish, you never have to scramble to find them when you’re running late.
• The Scissors in Every Room: Inexpensive often-used items like scissors should be in every room, not just the office or kitchen, because what happens is that the one pair gets taken into another room for something and never gets put back, which means you don’t find them again when you need them. I have scissors in the bathroom, kitchen, office and laundry room.
• Good Lighting: The most unappealing parts of our environments tend to be those that are not well lit. The garage, a shed, the cabinet under the sink all tend to be on my clients’ lists of cluttered areas they are afraid to tackle. Shining a bright light on the area will be half the battle, I promise you. Lighting inside closets and cupboards will help you find things faster and makes putting things away more efficient. It doesn’t have to be hard wired and expensive: I’ve had the same stick-on battery- operated light under my kitchen sink for years.
Where you might spend a little money is on high-quality task lighting. Appropriate task lighting at the desk or crafting table will increase your productivity, as well as your mood and sense of well-being.