Everything Out = Out Of Sight, Out of Mind
A person identifying with the Everything Out Style Preference is very clearly from the “out of sight, out of mind” camp of organizing. They feel most comfortable when things are visible and within reach. Unfortunately, if you leave everything out and within reach, pretty soon you won’t be able to see anything. Stacks of papers and piles of everything else will overwhelm you.
I had one client, the president of a community college, who called me in because he had misplaced the annual budget report in the sea of papers on his desk and there was buzzing behind his back about his ability to maintain control. When I went to see him in his office, I had to leapfrog over mounds of books and papers on the floor to reach the chair next to his desk.
He confessed to me that he truly had a fear of filing – that if he put his papers away in a cabinet, he wouldn’t remember where they were or what he had to do with them. So, we needed to create a new system for him that got the papers off of the floor and desk but yet was still visible and actionable. We decided to purchase clear plastic wall pockets and lined one wall with them. We labeled them according to his To Do List and Current Projects. This approach was unorthodox, for sure, but it worked brilliantly for HIM. Control was restored, along with more positive regard from his staff.
Another client, the producer of a morning TV show, had a certifiable disaster area behind his desk. His filing method for magazines consisted of tossing them over his shoulder into a massive knee-deep pile. I observed that he had a color-coded bulletin board that he used to track upcoming guest appearances and that he liked using this system. So we pulled the magazines off the floor and categorized them. We then organized the categories, by color, on newly installed shelves. I don’t know who would ultimately be responsible for picking the magazines off the floor in the future, but at least now there was a way to store them that allowed for easy reference.
Nothing Out Space Style Preference
The Nothing Out Style Preference is, of course, the opposite of the Everything Out. Nothing Outs feel uncomfortable with “visual clutter” and claustrophobic when they can’t spread out their arms into clear space. The problem with a Nothing Out approach is that they have a tendency to stuff things into drawers or closets when it’s time to straighten and then they can forget what’s been put where.
One of my clients who had a home office, invited me into her kitchen for a cup of tea. Everything looked spacious and well-organized so I asked where she was having difficulty. She took me through the closed door of a guest bedroom that was crammed floor to ceiling with items stored there “temporarily”. She had no systems in her hidden spaces so she was never sure what she’d find in her stash or where to put it out-of-sight when she did find it. Our solution was to clear out closets and drawers and determined how she used what she had collected, or if she even used those items at all. Then we organized, in labeled trays and closed boxes, what she wanted to save.
One of the worst systems I have ever seen imposed by a company manager was intended to be helpful, but was an unfortunate choice for the Everything Outs whom he employed. The manager insisted that everyone have a clear desk by the end of the day and so in a rush to get out the door, his people would stuff things away to give the appearance of neatness. The next morning they had to spend time recovering what they had been working on the day before. Lost time and frustrated workers were the result.
It’s so important to know what systems and products work with your personal styles so that you can make efficient and effective use of your time and space and create a more pleasing workflow experience.
Once you identify your dominant preferences – are you an Everything Out™, Nothing Out™, Minimalist™, Saver™, Straightener™, or No Rules™? – you can begin to take steps to integrate more Flow Steps into your experience.
The Time & Space Style Inventory™ (TSSI™) evaluates your time style preferences and how you manage priorities, attend to details, and take action. By learning your dominant and strong style preferences, you can make the most of your time and choose to take actions that increase flow in your life. Consistently taking the Flow Steps in your styles of dominance will help you successfully manage your self, and your decisions about time.