Off Color

Imagine that you took every physical possession you owned and put it in one big pile. That’s not a very useful way to store and organize those items! That possibility technically exists for you now; no one is stopping you from doing that. You probably just don’t want to.

Okay, so now imagine that after some prankster has done that to you, and you’re tasked with cleaning it all up and reorganizing it back into your house from the front lawn. Let’s look at a way you could organize things differently than you probably do now – let’s organize by color!

That room at the end of the hall? That’s now the Blue Room. Everything you own that’s blue is going in that room. The blue clothes you have, in there. Blueberries? In there. Your toothbrush goes in there, because it’s blue. One of your blankets goes in there, as does that set of blue dishes you own.

Now we get to the green room. Your plants go in there, and so do your toothpaste and a lot of the vegetables. Your cash goes in there as well as your favorite hoodie.

And so on.

This would be pretty horrible. Yet so organized! The rooms might even be ascetically pleasing, neat to look at. But that’s it. They certainly wouldn’t be organized for use.

That’s how you organize things – or at least, how most people try. They put stuff together based on what gets used together, and they put that stuff where it will likely get used.

You could store all your food, cooking utensils, and serving ware in the bedroom. It would all be together, which is nice, but it would still be mostly useless. You store that stuff in the kitchen because that’s where the stove is, so that’s where you’ll cook. I don’t keep my automotive tools in the basement, because I can’t get my car down there to work on it.

So things have to be both (a) stored in useful groups and (b) in useful places. Got it.

Now, think about how you store non-physical things.

Do they all go in a big pile on your front lawn? I’ve seen enough of other people’s desktops to know that the answer is “yes” for a decent number of people.

Do they all go somewhere that’s organized in a way that’s very pretty to look at and is utterly counter-productive for usefulness?

Or do you put things where you’ll use them?

(Inspiration credit: I’m currently reading the absolutely amazing book Building A Second Brain by Tiago Forte, and so should you.)

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