Knowing when to change

150714-room2Our driveway turns in from the road, runs along the western side of our property and ends near the rear of the house. Upon exiting the car, the walk to the back door is shorter than the stroll to the front. As a result, all traffic — and in and out — happens through the back door.

This wasn’t always the case.

When we purchased the house in 2000, the driveway didn’t exist. Cars were parked in front, and I hung a series of hooks by the front door. It made perfect sense: walk in, hang your keys on the hook. That is, it made sense until we stopped using the front door.

I’m a real proponent of “A place for everything and everything in its place,” because my sieve-like brain will forget where I’ve placed the keys (or the wallet or the kids’ snacks…or the kids) if they’re not in their designated home. So I’ve been insisting that keys go on the front-door hooks like a stubborn mule.

I’d find keys on the butcher block, which is quite near the back door, and grumble to myself as I carried them across the house to the front door. Sometimes I’d find them on the kitchen table, an act that was loathsome to me. “Ugh, who put these here?” I’d cry, shaking my fist as if I’d witness an unimaginable injustice. “The keys go on the key hooks!”

The problem wasn’t people ignoring the “rule.” The problem was that the rule no longer made sense.

I learned to let go and succumb to what the situation was trying to tell me when we repurposed the back room. There’s now an old dresser by the back door, onto which I’ve placed a small leather box that is the new home of keys. We’ve regained the enter-and-drop ease of the old days and more importantly, I’ve learned to listen to the situation.

It’s possible to become blindly dedicated to an organizational system. I insisted that we employ a strategy that was no longer effective, simply because I was afraid I’d be lost — or more accurately, my keys would be lost if that system was abandoned. It wasn’t until I stepped back and observed how the situation had changed that I realized the solution should change too.

The point is to look around at the solutions you’re using at home and at work. Are they still the best, most effective answer to a clutter issue? Has a situation changed that should prompt a solution change as well? Perhaps that one thing that drives you crazy — a constantly cluttered kitchen counter, the jam-packed junk drawer, phones and tablets piling up to be charged — is simply a symptom of a broken system. Good luck and let me know how it goes.

6 Comments for “Knowing when to change”

  1. posted by infmom on

    And now you’ve placed the keys within easy reach of any thief who can get through the door.

    If you’re using a dresser, at least put the keys in a drawer where they don’t immediately catch people’s attention.

  2. posted by Oliver on

    I rather think you’ve missed the point of this post.

  3. posted by Pat on

    Some time ago we screwed cup hooks into the bottom side edge of a cabinet, right inside the kitchen. This spot is very convenient when someone comes up from the garage, our most common entrance. Not only do my husband and I hang our house and car keys there – all the time, it has become such a habit! – but our extra house and car keys as well. When any of our four sons come home for a visit, they know exactly where to find a key if they are leaving the house for a while or if they are borrowing a car.

  4. posted by Gerard Irizarry on

    Loved the post!

  5. posted by Claire on

    Hmmm… this got me thinking. We moved a year ago, and used to have a floating shelf by the front door where we stored the keys. Now we mostly come in/out in the door between the garage and kitchen. However, there is no place in the kitchen to hang the keys, so we’ve found other places. Now that I think about it, we could put hooks with powerful magnets on the fridge for the keys (the fridge is right next to the door). I don’t want to screw hooks under the cabinet (like Pat suggested) since our keychains are kind of long and there are small appliances all over the counters…

  6. posted by Craig Miller on

    Great post. So often we fail to step back and reexamine our habit patterns and revise, if necessary, based on our current actual practices. Always ask “does this still make sense?” Thanks.

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