This morning I read a piece by Gina Trepani of Lifehacker, looking for inspiration to get my act in gear before the full-on holiday season blows away all semblance of domestic sanity. (And I can sure use some help in getting this household organized. Just yesterday I finally got all the extra blankets and whatnot put away from our last batch of house guests!)

Gina compares a “usable home” to a good piece of software. Ideally, she says, it’s “a tool that helps me get things done, a space that’s a pleasure to be in and a launch pad for daily tasks as well as my life goals.”

Now, Gina’s not a professional home organizer, but she is a very clever person who has her life lined up enough to survive as a software developer and act as editor of a major blog site. So I read, and pay attention!

In setting up a new apartment last year, she applied some of the organizational the skills learned in software development and came up with a list of “simple ways to create a living space that makes getting things done a breeze”:

  1. Create space for incoming stuff
  2. Put items you need to remember in your path
  3. Stow away stuff you don’t use; put stuff you do within easy reach
  4. This is wise advice, but a point I do have trouble with. It seems like there’s nothing I don’t use, so everything is strewn about out on the surface. We’re advised by all the home organization experts to get rid of what we really don’t use (if it hasn’t been used in a year, for example) and I do that. The problem is, as soon as I sell or give away something, that’s when I’m sure to need it! Hence, my inclination to be a total pack-rat.

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  5. Strategically place items to make tasks easy
  6. And Gina gives a simple-genius example for this tip:

    One of my favorite life hacks ever published on this site is the a sheet-folding hack: fold up the flat and fitted sheets in a set and place them inside one pillow case. The convenient packages preclude the need to rummage through the linen closet matching up sheet sets when the time comes to make the bed.

  7. Make task-based centers
  8. Leave writing material everywhere
  9. This one is my own favourite tip. You never know when you’re going to have the most brilliant idea of your life and need to write it down before it wisps away forever… or even just to scribble down a phone number.

  10. Set up an inbox
  11. And somewhere or other I read about someone who had two inboxes — one regular one, and one labelled “Things I Can’t Deal With Right Now” — but I suppose that would sort of defeat the point? The main idea here is to make a place to put things as they come in, so you can deal with them at a convenient time instead of getting interrupted and distracted.

  12. Collaborate with housemates
  13. Ah, if only it were so easy to share out the household tasks! here, Gina recommends a few simple tools — signs and lists and a magnetic whiteboard calendar — to help with the vital communication about what’s done and what needs to be done.

Gina Trapani’s special feature Geek to Live appears every Wednesday and Friday on Lifehacker, where she is editor. For a quick intro to Lifehacker’s recommendations of “downloads and web sites that actually save time,” check out the Retro Roundup of greatest hits.

Let’s tag this, oh, Home Organization.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Kate

    I LOVE the “Things I Can’t Deal with Right Now” inbox. Exactly what I need! I’m going to make one of those today!

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