Life is messy. We devote a lot of time and effort into managing that chaos. I thought of a little "theory", if you will, that helps me.

The Home Theory

Everything needs a home. The class of things that need homes is broad. It includes:

  • School assignments
  • Legal documents
  • Pictures
  • Recipies
  • Ideas
  • Projects
  • Books
  • Charging cables
  • Tools
  • etc.

The home needs to suit the thing that goes there. I have found that getting this right is really tricky. But once you have a home for a thing, you never loose it. You will want to put things back into their homes when you are done using it, because it will feel right. If the home doesn't fit the item, you run into a bit of friction—that slows you down and makes you more likely to put the thing where it's easy.

One thing that stood out to me from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was the author's discussion about tools. Regarding tool organization:

One of the first warning signs of impatience is frusttration at not being able to lay your hand on the tool you need right away. If you just stop and put tools away neatly you will both find the tool and also scale down your impatience wihout wasing time or endangering the work. (pp. 286)

I mentioned this a bit when I talked about text editors, but this holds true for more things than physical or software tools. Consider a home for finances: if you have a budgeting program you always use, then it's much easier to keep track of your finances because records of transactions have a home to go to.

The investment of time is worth it.

Symptoms of No Home

I once didn't have a home for a while. I mean, I lived in a house and was provided with more than adequate food, shelter, clothing, etc. However, I didn't have a room. We were rennovating our basement to make more space, and until that was complete, I slept on an air mattress.

The air mattress was no problem. I was young enough that it didn't hurt my back. (I can't believe that I'm suddenly "old" and reposing on a mattress hurts my back!) The biggest struggle for me is that I didn't have a home for my stuff, and I didn't have a place where I could go to be quiet.

I'm quite introverted. That means after spending time with people, I need quiet time to relax and recharge. I didn't get that. The barrage of noise I experience in that time made it difficult for me at times.

I'm grateful that I have a home now. It's important. It's important for things and people to have a home.