In the article, The Seven Essential “Stations” Every Home Should Have – lifehack.org, seven areas in the house are laid out for organization. I think that this goes beyond mere organization, and that having these stations will increase productivity by eliminating the time spent looking for things. I believe in keeping the tools for a task where I will use them, even if it means buying more. I am more likely to clean the mirrors if I don’t have to go downstairs to fetch the window cleaner, for example, so I keep window cleaner in all the bathrooms. This article deals with seven big ways to group things together so that the tools you need are in one place.
The human brain does not shift complete attention and focus between tasks instantaneously. This means that there is a period of time between the stopping of one task and the starting of another where the brain makes the adjustment between the two. Some people have referred to this as a fragmenting of attention.I believe that using these stations cuts down on this lag time from the simple fact that when we go to do something, everything is already in the correct place. Here are some examples of how I use these stations to keep us from searching for stuff:
Destination Station: This is where everything lands when people come in the door. Keys, mail, bags…everything stops here rather than be scattered across the house. Immediately beside our door to the garage we have a small flip top desk. Inside there is one large shelf with three dividers below. Below this is a large drawer and a cabinet with one shelf. Coming in the door, my keys go right into my mail slot. Mail gets sorted, and if it is junk, it goes into the recycle bin by the door, or into a “To Be Shredded” folder on the top shelf. At night, my briefcase goes next to the door, and my child’s school bag is packed and placed there too.
Communication Station Having one place to look for commitments, phone messages and household information means we never have to search for a phone number or calendar. We keep the calendar on the back of the door, within sight of the phone, and there is a binder of household information (including our personal phone book) next to the phone. Sports schedules get placed on the family calendar right away, along with any appointments. Everyone is responsible for making sure things are on the family calendar. If it isn’t on there, it doesn’t exist.
Donation Station: we have a bag in our spare bedroom that things get put into for donation. When the door-to-door collection people leave a note, I can then quickly gather up the bag and put it out. No fussing, no trying to remember where we stashed things for donation.
Gift and Shipping Station: I started this one by accident after my mother gave us a container for holding gift wrap. Now that container hangs in our office closet, with mailing envelopes in one pockets and all the necessaries for wrapping gifts in other parts (paper, tape, scissors, tags). Having it in one portable place means that I can easily move to wrap gifts in another part of our house and not have to stop to find any supplies.
Education Station: I hadn’t thought of our office space like this, but it does fit. We have one bedroom in our house that has been converted into an office for each of us. We each have a desk and chair, and all the reference books are in here. Everything is within reach, and often we will all spend evenings in the office together, rather than in front of the television.
Creation Station: The guest bedroom in the house serves double purpose as the creation station for me. This is where the textile arts and crafts get done. My child has a reachable bin in the area off the kitchen filled with craft supplies that can get messy. In either one, it is easy to get out the crafts, do what we want, and put things away. Before we moved to the house, we had plastic tubs holding our supplies that could be brought out to work on crafts.
Administration Station: This happens to be in our office as well. All bills get paid here, the records are filed here, and there is a phone and our computers. We also keep all warranties in this area and all maintenance records.
I really believe that having these basic stations set up in the home can make things run much more smoothly. And I encourage you to ask yourself how much time you have lost this week alone looking for things you needed to complete a task?