It has been a busy several days and I feel like I have hardly been at the computer at all. I haven’t been making sawdust either, although I have had my share of breathing ‘real dust’ from all the deep, dark places I have been cleaning. What a job this was!
Maintaining order in a small working environment is something that takes regular attention. It doesn’t just ‘happen.’ While I think that I am pretty good about keeping up with things, it is times like this that make me realize that there is still some need for improvement.
It happens to all of us. We just get ‘too busy’ to take the time to start putting things in their rightful place. Or sometimes, we run out of space in the designated place we have for things and start to improvise and before we know it, things are scattered here and there and all the order is lost.
Much earlier this year, I had purchased a little tote box. It actually was a plastic box that held four of those flat, clear boxes with the many dividers that you can use for storing small things. With the accumulation of beads, small screws and pieces that I use for my design work, this seemed like the perfect solution to the drawers that were filled with small bags of things that were clumped together. However, even though I bought the piece several months ago, it remained sitting empty in the closet, taking up space. One of the tasks I did over the past couple of days was to go through the several drawers of small things and actually sort them into the new system. That alone took several hours. But in the end, I was able to get rid of a seven drawer tower and free up valuable floor space not to mention that all my small parts were right at hand where I could immediately find them. The new container will save me much time in the future hunting for a particular type of bead or part that I wanted to use for a project. It will also save me from purchasing again what I already had, as we all have done from time to time.
Another very big problem that we had here is the accumulation of projects. It seems funny because in the past few weeks I hadn’t felt like I had done a lot this year in the line of making new items and projects, but when I had them all in the same room and they were looking back at me, I was quite overwhelmed. Perhaps I wasn’t so lazy after all.
When they were all spread out and stored in various places, I would only see bits and pieces of what I had done and felt like I should have done more. But seeing them altogether was quite startling to me and I realized that I had done quite a bit over the past year. But it was time to either find proper owners for them or get rid of them. As harsh as it seems, several things were damaged from improper storage and they just had to go in the garbage. There was really no point in keeping them, as I have said before that I keep my ‘decorations’ here to a bare minimum. My little tree is the exception, and it is plenty sitting in its cozy little corner. I have several nice sets of ornaments and plaques and candle trays that I am sure I will find nice homes for and I would rather see them go to people I love and care about then in the trash.
Selling the things is not really an option right now. As I explained before, it requires time and planning that I just don’t have. I suppose I could spend the time it takes, but it would take me away from designing and with all the chips hit the ground, designing is what is going to make me a living and that is where my attention and time needs to be spent. Once the designs are done, I need to move on to the next project. Listing and marketing and taking things to shops and negotiating pricing just isn’t good business sense to me. Not now anyway.
The other day when I went to town, I bought several large semi-clear plastic containers so that I can store my things efficiently. Getting containers all the same size allowed me to stack them nicely and neatly and make the best use of my space. I also started labeling the outside of each container with a card so I know at a glance exactly what was inside. I like the method of taping the card on the outside with clear postage tape because if I ever use the container for something else, I simply remove the card and replace it with a new one. I used this method for years with cardboard boxes too, so there isn’t much scribbled on the side and I could really tell what it currently contained.
I also found that not filling the containers to capacity was the best option. That way, later on when there is one or two more things you need to add into it, it isn’t a problem. I am doing this with my little tree decorations for example. I have an entire large container designated for the things that I want to use on my little tree (lights, ornaments, etc.) as well as the few pieces that I have around the house here, such as the seasonal refrigerator magnets. The box isn’t even half full, but as I continue to add to my tree, I will have a centralized place where I can store the pieces. That way I know just where to go when I change seasons and it will be simple and I won’t have to be hunting for things. The changeover will be fast and easy.
All these ramblings may sound like I am over thinking things, but in the long run, I think it will allow me to once again be really productive and have a neat and clean working environment and place to live. Since both are the same to me, I find it especially important and it makes a huge difference on not only the rate that I work, but also the quality of what I produce.
Today will be the final day of finishing up the process. I have to go through the large cabinet that we built in January and do a little bit of sorting there, but other than that, I am just about finished. I have gone through every cabinet, drawer, and closet in our little place over the past few days, as well as consolidate all our stored items into one centralized place, and I actually have room to spare. The lathe is out of our kitchen (We got it to fit into the closet along with the large shop vac!) and it pulls out very easily when Keith is inspired to work on it. We gained a lot of empty floor space and our little place seems larger than ever. It feels pretty good.
I hope by sharing these stories with you, it encourages and inspires you to do the same. We will see in the next weeks and months the impact of having things in order can have, as all the pieces are in place for me for a very productive winter. The ideas are there, as are the deadlines. And now I have a wonderfully clean and organized environment to work in too.
Even the cats seem happy:
(That’s my sweet “Pancakes” snoozing on Keith’s keyboard across the couch from me.)
I wish you all a wonderfully productive and fun day!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"