Thinking Outside the Box

Much of my time as a Professional Organizer is spent helping people to put things into containers and boxes. But, success in this business requires as much thinking "outside the box" as it does about putting things into containers. I was reminded of this recently, while consulting with clients who own a large, well-appointed suburban home. Two of the issues that the clients presented were the lack of closet space on the main floor, and the constant clutter on a small, built-in desk. Limited closet space resulted in coats' being deposited in the front entry. Shoes were removed inside the garage and dropped on the floor, by the other door into the house. The homeowners were tired of tripping on shoes. And the last thing they wanted (guests) to see was a wall of coats hanging in the foyer. So, the challenge was clear: This active family needed more closet space.

The second problem was the built-in desk. Located adjacent to the kitchen, the desk was an obvious clutter trap. It was probably designed as a bill paying area, or maybe a place for children to do homework. But, the family had a home office, and the children were teens. Over time, this space had become a phone desk, magazine dump, mail dump, clutter repository, etc. So, I asked the client some questions:

"Do you use this desk?"

"A little. For this and that."

"Do you need the desk?"

"No."

"Would you miss the desk if it went away?"

"No."

"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"

"I'm thinking about ripping out the desk, adding some doors, and turning the space into a closet. Is that what you're thinking?"

"Exactly."

What's the point? The architect designed a built-in desk, the builder built a built-in desk, and the homeowner bought a built-in desk. But, the space wasn't working as a desk. So, we took the same space, and gave it a different name: closet. Same space-different use. Better use of space. More productive use of space. More effective use of space. The ability to make these connections, and visualize new uses is part of thinking out of the box. Sometimes we have to stand back, remove the preconceptions, and let our imagination work. Containers and boxes are important. And sometimes we need to put the containers aside, and think out of the box. It's an important part of learning to become organized.

© 2005 OASIS professional organizers?

Marc Rifkin is a Professional Organizer, and owner of OASIS professional organizers, which provides home and office organizing solutions in Greater Seattle.

©2005 OASIS professional organizers
may be reprinted with full author credit, bio, and all links intact only

In The News:

Organizing  NYS PEF
Organizing for Equity in Oakland Schools  California Teachers Association

The Love It Or Lose It Principle: One Simple Key to Living Clutter-Free Forever

It wasn't long ago that you spent an entire weekend... Read More

Family Management Tip #3: Getting Ready for the New School Year

Clothes. Check. School supplies. Check. No doubt you've got to... Read More

Simplify Your Life! No Really...Simplify Your Life!

We hear it every day."Buy this product, and simplify your... Read More

Be More Productive - Books to Help You Be More and Do More!

How many of us have enough time to do everything... Read More

Files vs Piles

I recently read an article that had some interesting but... Read More

Secrets to Eliminating Emotional Clutter

Are you plagued by clutter in your personal or professional... Read More

Organizing - Time is of the Essence!

What does "time" have to do with getting organized? Everything!... Read More

Lightening The Load

When I tell people what a FREEING experience moving is,... Read More

Escaping The Clutter Trap? - 5 Steps For Increasing Productivity And Decreasing Stress

? Do you feel overwhelmed by all the "stuff" in... Read More

Overwhelmed? Try the Red Zone Tactic

Some people seem to be born organized. You probably remember... Read More

Declutter Your Home in 11 Easy Steps

Feeling overwhelmed at the thought of organizing your home? Start... Read More

Organized Living-Secrets About Your Lifes Hidden Power Revealed

An organized living lifestyle can cause you to weed out... Read More

How Much Is Your Time Worth?

Does Your Present Internet Filing System Work?Do You Really Know... Read More

Don?t Be A Clutter Victim

There are 3 kinds of clutter: Inner (between our ears);... Read More

The Magnificent 7: Tips for Cleaning Up Clutter

Clutter is postponed decisions®. Here are some suggestions to simplify... Read More

Organizing Lessons from a Bookstore

The store reminded me of a well-worn slipper ? tattered... Read More

The Most Frequently Asked Questions about Organizing Your Kids Rooms

1. In terms of organization, what is the first thing... Read More

Getting Organized For The New Year - Part 2

In part 1, we discussed a system you could use... Read More

Just How Organized Are You? Take This Quiz For Individuals

The Productive Environment Scorecard?Read the statements below and rate your... Read More

Getting Organized For The New Year - Part 1

The following procedures will insure an organized and well run... Read More

Digging out of Paper Clutter - part 2

We previously noted that papers must be sorted before they... Read More

The Clutter Campaign - Design Your Vision

I like a room you can dance in the middle... Read More

Spring Clean Your Life

Spring is here and its time to sweep away the... Read More

The True Definition of an Organization

The true definition of an organization is one that is... Read More

Clutter is Postponed Decisions?

Do you ever sit down at your desk buried in... Read More