White Space: The #1 Key to Organization Success

I’ve recently come to a revelation about organization.

White space. It’s not just for schedules anymore.

When I organize, I also need white space. Let me explain.

PB-clock_c0dec98e941ea8762025dcf0c0397919Not so recently, we went on a trip and used our carry on suitcase. It’s old and ugly and green, but it works. And since it’s so small, I’ve always prided myself on maximizing storage space by storing luggage within luggage within luggage. The canvas bag goes in the carry on which goes in the medium suitcase that goes in the big one. It’s quite a tidy system and save us tons of room, but . . .

As I type this, that same small green carry on sits in my garage, next to my babushka suitcase set . . . weeks after we traveled. Why? I just haven’t brought myself to going through all the trouble to open all the suitcases, nest it properly, and then zip them all back up again. Not to mention, there’s a stack of boxes on top of the big suitcases, so more effort is required.

And then I realized that my organization system is great for a one-time use, but it’s not practical. It’s complicated. And when it comes down to it, I won’t bother (at least for a long time) reorganizing, so is it really saving me that much space? Right now, the answer is no.

Anytime I organize a closet just-so, in a perfect Tetris-worthy board, I am infinitely proud of my work. But come time to get something out that requires me to take down boxes, open packages, hold one stack while I pull the other stack down, and then have to re-Tetris my closet, I won’t actually put it back where it “belongs.”

Hence my need for white space. If my organization systems have extra room, don’t require stacking and nesting, and aren’t put together like a jigsaw puzzle, then I am setting myself up for success and way more likely to actually keep it going. I’ve seen shelves and closets on Pinterest and scoffed at their open spaces, and, I admit, I’ve judged them harshly and labeled them “wasteful” and “unrealistic.” But now I get it. Those systems will be maintained and used because there’s room to be lazy human.

So next time you tackle a closet or garage shelving unit, consider saving your Tetris-championship skills for the video game, and leave white space to help you realistically maintain an organized system.

Leave white space to help you realistically maintain an organized system.


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