Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Get Organized with a 200 Year Old Tool

We humans are good at something called “,” or taking individual units and putting them together. For instance, we can comfortably “chunk” 7-9 numbers together and remember them. If our phone numbers were 15 digits long, we would have a lot harder time remembering them. Think of your social security number... 9 digits. But how many of us know our credit card numbers? 16 digits, not including that security number on the back.
So, when we think of getting things done, “chunking” in small manageable groups works. Over chunking, on the other hand, overwhelms us. This is probably why we start to palpitate when “to do” lists fill a page. Our minds are not capable of putting that much information together. End result? For many of us, we feel and then experience inertia.

So, with the New Year nipping at our heels, I thought “chunking” change into threes could make a lot of sense. One of the simplest and most powerful is “a place for everything and everything in its place.” It seems that a minister and graduate of Yale, Charles Goodrich, can claim the first printed citation of this quote. Goodrich was also an author and member of the senate in Connecticut. Amazing, huh? One thing is for sure. “A place for everything” remains one of the most powerful organizing tools in the 200 hundred years since it was first recorded. (And, I suspect, a lot further back than that. Truth is truth, after all…)

A great place to start... Do you have a spot for your keys?

So, back to “chunking” and getting more organized. What if you picked three things in your world? If could be in your office, your home, your car. But look around at what is not working and FIND A DESIGNATED PLACE for THREE things.
I believe that finding a clear location is 80% of the battle. After that, it’s just a little bit of discipline to follow through and put that item in its spot. So, this week, consider looking for three trouble spots in your life, find a home for them, and practice getting those things into their home every day.

Oh, and here’s the thing. Once you find a place for three things, you can start over and find a place for three more things…. and so on and so on…
Let me know how it goes as you “chunk” this simple, time honored tool and bring in the New Year with a little less chaos, a little more simplicity.


  1. Maria, I spend a lot of time looking for my keys every day. No more. I am putting a bin in the foyer and keeping them there. And I am "chunking" in two other things I loose. My gloves and my handbag. Good post. Alyssa

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