Altering advice to find the best solution for you

When I was studying for my master’s degree in education, the buzz phrase was differentiated instruction. I could plop those two words into any paper and a professor would inevitably scribble “great!” next to them in the margin. Professors threw the phrase around in lectures the way that politicians are using the words on the table this election cycle.

Simply stated, differentiated instruction means one size does not fit all. It’s a great concept, even if it was overused. A teaching method that works for one student won’t necessarily work for all students. And, the same idea certainly applies to organizing.

When a teacher uses differentiated instruction in his classroom, he creates lessons that provide options for students on content, process, and/or product. This means that students may have choices in what they learn (content), how they learn (process), or in how they demonstrate they have mastered the information (product).

When looking for organizing advice, you can use the same technique. If you find an article that makes a suggestion that you know won’t work for you, see if you can alter the content, process, or product to make it personally helpful.

For example, each week on Unclutterer we showcase pictures of readers’ organized workspaces. Without fail, someone writes a comment to the post saying that they don’t like the design style of the office. That’s cool — you don’t have to like the look of every office we feature. However, you still can garner organizing ideas from offices you don’t like. How does the person organize computer cables (differentiate process and product)? Where is furniture located in the room and would a similar setup help your productivity (differentiate content and product)? Does something not appear in the photograph that would be beneficial if you also removed that object from your office (differentiate content and process)?

Consider differentiating the content, process, or product when reading advice that doesn’t specifically address your organization needs and maybe you’ll unveil your perfect solution.

7 Comments for “Altering advice to find the best solution for you”

  1. posted by SpaceAgeSage on

    Great! When we try to fit the mold of others, we may not reach our potential. For example, I love Dr. Wayne Dyer’s books and ideas, but my world view differs in many ways from his. I can take his core ideas, adjust them to my perspective, and still be the wiser for it.

  2. posted by Wendy on

    I enjoy looking at other people’s home offices or living areas and getting ideas. I often think of what I’d move or how I’d change the colors. It’s a good idea to keep in mind that variations – differentiations – may be available for products (finishes, sizes, configurations) and to try to find out more if the product is close to what you want.

  3. posted by Princess Momma on

    Thanks for the reminder! I always forget that just because something doesn’t seem to apply to me on the surface does not mean there is nothing I can learn or apply to my situation.

  4. posted by Sara on

    My first thought is this is issue of optimists seeing the positive in any given advice and pessimists seeing the negative. That’s probably too simple, though. I actually learn a lot from pictures I don’t like, as long as I take the time to figure out *why.* Is it the color? The lighting? The style? I’ve found that getting to know my hates in life is just as helpful as discovering my loves.

  5. posted by One Bag Nation on

    I’ve read a lot of organizing and productivity books, and while there isn’t one (yet) that’s turned my life around (hmmm) I think I always get something useful from each book(or blog or website).

  6. posted by Sam on

    Excellent advice.

    In my profession (space and facilities management) and probably elsewhere, this good practice also goes by the shorthand, “adopt and adapt”.

  7. posted by Louise on

    Erin, this is a very diplomatic post. Good job in gently telling off the naysayers!

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