A great question came into the LearnDoBecome Community Facebook Group the other day, and I thought it would be a helpful topic for the podcast!
I thought it might be helpful to dive a bit deeper into this, so here are a few principles to consider:
(1) Please save yourself time and energy by NOT putting things “back in the inbox.”
It is tempting to think, “Oh, I’m going to need this in a few days. I’ll just leave it here.” But all that does is keep the item in circulation–which will need brain energy at some point. Instead, process each item completely so it is in it’s final “place,” but it can come back to you when the time is right to act on it.
(2) “Support Materials” can be both paper and physical items.
In the cubby video I mentioned earlier, I explain how we can keep papers, small booklets, and small items (like scout badges, gift cards, etc.) inside our support cubbies, and then we can access them at the appropriate time.
But if you have larger items–like painting supplies for a bathroom paint job, scrapbook materials, a stuffed animal that needs to be repaired, an item that needs to be super-glued, etc. those are still technically “support materials,” but they won’t fit in your cubbies or files.
In those cases, there are several options, but the KEY is to make sure that when the time comes to work on a related task or project, you can locate the item within seconds.
For example, we used to have a “to mend or fix” basket in our laundry room. It included any toy or piece of clothing that needed attention.
For something like paint materials, we have a shelf in our basement that holds all of our paint cans–and we have an area in the garage that holds all TOOLS, like brushes, rollers, plastic sheeting, etc. That’s what works for us.
If I were scrapbooking (or for a real example, I’m going through and scanning key pages of my mom’s old journals), I would keep all those materials in similar, stacked bins, and I would keep them in a place that makes the most sense. Because I am going through about one journal of my mom’s each week, I keep the bins in a corner of my bedroom. If I decided it was taking too much time and wanted to move the project to sometime next year, I would put the bins out in the garage on a farther-away shelf.
You can just ask yourself, “Where does it make sense to keep this so I will be able to find it within seconds of when I will need it?”
(3) You’ll want to keep current and someday project support materials in locations that make the most sense.
The question was asked, “Where do you put a photo album that needs to be worked on, but is not a current project?”
We’re actually going through this right now. We have a couple of albums that we want to scan, but now is not the time, so they are tucked away deep in a closet. The albums that are CURRENT are out near the scanner.
However, our son has taken a little break from scanning because school started, and before he does anymore, I want to review the ones he’s already scanned, talk with my siblings about what they want to do with the actual photos our dad took/put in albums, and figure out the best steps for the next album, which is going to be really tricky to take apart. It doesn’t make sense to keep the scanner and album out on a desk for over a month, so I have the project on a next-in-line list, the scanner and album have been put away, and I don’t need to see it and think about it every time I walk by.
When we learn how to only keep out the project materials that we are actually using at the moment–and then put everything else into a logical place that won’t weigh on our minds, something magical happens. We feel more focused, more clear-headed, more calm, and more content with the work we are getting done.
Try it out and let us know how it goes!!
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