How to organize everything

If you see it…

Part 3: If you see it, put it away.

This is a really powerful method, deceptively simple. As you move through your day, play a continual game: if your eye registers something, you have to deal with it.

So if you see something that’s fallen to the floor, you have to immediately pick it up and put it, not just anywhere, but in its place. If it doesn’t have a place, immediately make one.

Take this literally. If you’re rushing out and don’t have time to deal with anything that’s out of place, DON’T LOOK AROUND. Simple as that.

To get absolutely everything around you well-organized in a painlessly progressive way, you can use a variation of if-you-see-it: when you use it, put it back in a proper place. Since everything you pick up was somewhere, this is a process of improvement. The steps can be as small or sweeping as you feel like. For example…

Say you have one of those spice racks that hang on the wall, a three-tier one, completely full of every possible spice that may one day come in handy. You use the ground cumen in a new recipe, it happens to be in the top left, the furthest possible reach to a rather highly hung rack. Don’t put it back there. Consider how often you use cumen, which is at least this once. Move around a bottle or two of spices you’ve never used, so that the cumen is now in the bottom right. Do this for a month and you’ll have a precise idea of how many spices you use, and how convenient the whole spice rack set-up actually is. This is cheaply gained, very useful information.

If you stay deliberately casual, and play the if-you-when-you game all the time, the odds are high that you will become kind of obsessed with the steady organizing that begins to spread around you. After a while, little breakthroughs of the obvious will begin to occur. You’ll see larger patterns of organization, like, how an entire bookcase or media center should really be organized, or that you don’t need all those always updating, never launched apps in your phone (start by deleting the oldest never-used one or two).

Stress goes down, tons of time gets saved, life is smooth, and you feel free to focus on new things. You’re organized.

Take it slow!