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Creating Systems: Part 2

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If you’re too busy to build good systems, then you’ll always be too busy.
— Brian Logue

Now that you know the benefits to systematizing in your home, it’s time to get started!

Systematizing is about giving things a home that works with the flow of your space, and makes a particular activity in that space easier.

Systems are easier to change than behaviors, so keep things simple for your household if you want others to follow.

 


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I should mention that my own house isn’t immaculate by any means. But having less stuff and knowing everything has a home means I can quickly restore order when things get nutty. The very important result of creating a system and maintaining your sanity is that all the items you own need to have a home. Piles (and frustration) develop when we do not have proper homes for things.


So…how do you even go about creating systems in your home?

To start, you should have already seen and touched everything while Simplifying your space. That is why Step 1 of the Life Made Simple process is so important – you are taking inventory – which allows you to start Step 2, creating Systems!

If you remember from Steps to Simplify: Part 2, you started Simplifying by creating 2-3 macro categories:

  • Keep – it adds value to your life, or you use it regularly.

  • Go – you’re done with it – so donate it, give it away, recycle it, or throw it in the trash.

  • Not Sure – if you’re struggling with something, create this category, but know you’ll have to go through it again!

Now, let’s dig deeper…



BEFORE & AFTER - Client’s Hall Closet. Creating systems so that the AFTER is easier to maintain than it is to go back to what it looked like BEFORE.

BEFORE & AFTER – Client’s Hall Closet. Creating systems so that the AFTER is easier to maintain than it is to go back to what it looked like BEFORE.


1. take inventory of your “keep” items (after simplifying)

Take notice of what types of items accumulate in your KEEP pile…

What micro-categories are you creating as you put like-things together?

Think about how the space has been used – realistically!

After you have created your micro-category piles of like-things, think about how those items have currently been used in your space…

→ Look for piles of items that are frequently used in the space.

→ Look for piles of items that are kept in the space but are never, or rarely, used.

→ Look for piles of items that are not “meant” to be in the space but have ended up there.

This differentiation will give you great clues about how to move forward in creating your systems!


2. evaluate & create zones

Closet, kitchen, entryway—each of these areas is a “zone.” Zones are high‐activity areas we use frequently with a particular purpose. Mapping out your zones can save you a lot of time.

We’re more efficient with these daily activities if we have designated spaces and systems with which to perform them.

Map the process you already follow in your space.

What steps do you take to perform a particular activity, like getting ready in the morning?

Does the space work with your natural behaviors, habits, and rhythm?

What’s the journey of an item to reach its final destination? How many times do you touch or move an item to get it where it belongs?

*Don’t forget to include thinking about how everyone in your home uses that space, as you want to get the best picture of how the space is being utilized.

I’m not suggesting you write down every step you take in the space on a notepad, but if you simply pause to become aware of them—you’ll surprise yourself. You may even realize just how inefficient you are.


Kitchen - Perishable Food Storage Zone

Kitchen – Perishable Food Storage Zone


Kitchen - Non-Perishable Food Storage Zone

Kitchen – Non-Perishable Food Storage Zone


Kitchen - Food Prep Zone

Kitchen – Food Prep Zone

For tips on creating zones in your kitchen, check out my blog on Creating an Efficient and Enjoyable Kitchen.


3. establish your goal(s) for the space

This is HUGE!

Systematizing isn’t always easy. Too often, we’re blinded into seeing a space the way we’ve always seen it.

That doesn’t mean that that is the most efficient way to utilize the space… Most often, it isn’t!

What’s your biggest goal (s) within the space?

What would make you happiest, and/or your day a little easier?

Perhaps your goal is to have your bench in the entryway FREE and clear from any items on it so that you and your family are able to actually sit there and take off your shoes…

Seeing the bench cleared and the ability to use it simply as it was intended may just make your day that much brighter every time you pass it when walking out the door!

Now, you have a clean slate to make it happen!

 


Client Goal - Clearing this entryway bench - COMPLETE!

Client Goal – Clearing this entryway bench – COMPLETE!


4. leverage what is working!

Now that you have an idea of what you have, how you have already been using the space, and what your goals are…

Take a moment to think about how you can leverage the habits that you already have created within your space to help you attain other goals/habits!

Make a system simple to use repeatedly, and you’re on your way to creating a new, positive habit. It also helps if you make it really hard to return to the old habit.

In our home, I was having a hard time consistently taking my vitamins each day. When thinking about my daily habits, I realized that part of my morning routine was making coffee. EVERY MORNING! That’s when I realized…DUH! I should make a spot for our family vitamins next to the coffee machine so that there was no way that I would forget our vitamins. I was able to leverage my coffee habit to create a new habit – and leverage space next to my coffee machine for a vitamin basket.

This is really just an opportunity to think about how we can utilize our space and habits to create systems that are more automatic and use less brain power.

It is so much easier to create systems that work with current habits that we have, rather than work against.


5. set up your space

The information that you have gathered through steps 1-4 helps give you ideas on how best to create systems within your space.

Now is the time to start moving things back into your space!

This may take some trial and error as you place things within your new space for the best possible flow. This step will also include strategies on how you will be able to set up the space so that it is easier to sustain your new systems than it would be to go back to your old ways!

We want the systems that we create to be sustainable, which brings us to the final step of the Life Made Simple process – Step 3-Sustain. Stay tuned to the Simple Blog, as we will discuss how to create sustainable systems in your home in the coming weeks!


Real System (In the real world)

 


Client Goal - Organizing her closet - COMPLETE!

Client Goal – Organizing her closet – COMPLETE!

 

I organized Michelle’s clothing space based on how and when she wore which clothes, making sure she could get ready easily and efficiently every day.

Before we worked together she had some clothes in the closet and others out in her bedroom dresser. She was going back and forth getting dressed and often getting sidetracked in the process.

We moved all the clothes related to her work, this included undergarments, to her closet so she could just go in there after her shower and get completely dressed.

I also factored in her thought process when she goes to go look for a particular item. If she is looking for a blouse, will she look for it by style, color or sleeve length. This helped me to arrange things most effectively for her.


 


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