Sometimes I start to say something to a client and almost bite my tongue because it's such a basic concept and I think it's not worth speaking out loud. Then I just say it anyway. I'm usually glad that I did, because sometimes that silly little saying of mine sparks the AHA moment that was needed. You know, that thing you feared they told everyone else in school but you were absent that day and you missed? Yes, sometimes these gems come flying out of my mouth even though I think they are obvious to the average person. However, if you grew up in a disorganized house, or you ever had trouble getting your homework in on time, or your boss at work is always hounding you about deadlines and your messy desk, well, maybe you missed some of those small but important life tips way back when.
Let's use our kitchen as an example for this lesson:
Duh Principle #1: It's cleanup time children!
If you spray and wipe off your countertops with a cleaner, throw away your paper towel, then immediately put the cleaner back where it belongs - under the sink, or in a specific cabinet. Don't leave it on the counter. If you use scissors to cut open a bag of crackers or chips, get your snack in a bowl, then put the scissors away immediately. Don't leave them on the counter. If you get out a spice to add to whatever you are cooking, use it, then put it away immediately. Don’t leave it on the counter... see what I'm getting at here?
Duh Principle #2: One of these things is not like the other.
Group together the stuff you use together. Leave the coffeemaker on the counter if you use it all the time (it's not realistic to hide everything away in the kitchen) but put it directly beneath the cabinet with coffee mugs. Why walk across the kitchen if you don't have to? When wrapping up leftovers, have the cabinet of plastic ware and the drawer with plastic bags/foil/plastic wrap near each other. Don't make extra trips all over the kitchen just for fun and exercise. It's like if you have all the snacks for the kids in one place, and you randomly throw a jar of olives in there as well. It'll confuse everyone and you will never be able to find those olives, so you'll go get another jar at the store and wind up with two that you can't find. Which leads to...
Duh Principle #3: There's no place like home.
Everything in your kitchen (and your home) should have a designated spot. You all know where the forks are right? Everything should be like that. So if you can't find something, it's because you never gave it a true home in the first place. Making a baking section of your pantry or a specific cabinet. Put all of your cooking utensils in that holder by the stove and no where else. Does the bread really belong on the counter or was someone just too lazy to put it back where it belongs? Cleaning up is so much easier if you know where things go.
Duh Principle #4: Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge
You cannot, I repeat, cannot remember everything, so rely on some tricks to help. You need to see what you've got right in front of you and not have to go searching for cooking supplies or canned goods (that's how that expired stuff ended up in the back of the pantry). And that's why labeling is so important, especially on the outside of a box whose contents you can't see. Or what if you go on a baking binge and use up all of your supplies, how do you know where to put the new stuff once you get back from the store if it's not labeled? Plus when the kids come in and ask where something is, you can continue what you are doing and just point. They'll figure it out, eventually.
Duh Principle #5: Never Eat Soggy Worms
The kitchen is the place to prepare food, not empty your pockets or leave mail and papers... find a new location for that. The top of the kitchen counter is a sacred space that needs to be free for preparing food in the safest, cleanest environment possible. If things are ending up there that don't belong, it's because you haven't assigned a home for them elsewhere - everyone now thinks the counter IS their home. Do find a new area, label it, and have a "first day of school introduction" so family members know the new homes for things and what is expected of them.
It's a scary world out there, when we introduce things for the first time. So take it slow. Live with your new choices for a few days to see if you like what you've done. Remember the new rules. And just think - you're ahead of the game already - it's the first day of a whole new way of thinking, but at least you know where the bathroom is.