Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Conscious Disorder

Photo courtesy Flickr

Housekeeping terminology is imprecise. “Clean your room”, for example, is a completely useless command. So is “put things away”. Usually, putting things away simply handicaps whoever was trying to get some work done.

The basic principle is to leave something ready to use the next time it is wanted. An incomplete project demands that pieces of the work stand ready for the next stage of the job.

This house is always in a mild stage of rearrangement, because each of us always has a project or two in the pipeline. My work usually lies around in the pantry, kitchen, and dining area. I wrap things up on Thursday afternoon so the decks are clear for the week-end. The state of the counters tells me whether I’m keeping up, and there are times when I simply abort tasks that have turned out to be energy sumps.

If I know why something’s lying around, I don’t interrupt production by hiding it from myself. Every artifact in the house has a home position close to where it will be used first. If something is just floating around getting in the way and doing not much of anything, it goes into the Goodwill bag.

In one sentence, an instructor at Seattle’s venerable Burnley School of Professional Art nailed the key element of working at home: have a place where one can leave a set-up. Another instructor nailed questions of inventory: resolve it or leave it out.


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