Ask the following questions about items before you put them away: Where do I use it? How often do I use it? When is the next time I am going to use? The answer to those three questions will let you know where an item should go.
1. Where do I use it?
If you will always use the item in a particular room, if at all possible, that's the room you want to store it in. Keep things handy that you use frequently. If you get into the habit of storing clutter just to get it out of the way you will waste a lot of time looking for things when you need them.
2. How often will I use the item?
If you use an item multiple times each day you may want to make room for it on a surface or put it in a top drawer. If you use it weekly or monthly, store it in a lower drawer or shelf. If you rarely use it, store in a clearly marked box in storage (garage, attic, closet, etc.) and evaluate whether you really need it at all.
3. When is the next time I am going to use the item?
There are some items that you may use a lot during some seasons and then not all during others. Items that may need to be handy around Christmas are just clutter in July, so it's good to have a seasonal rotation of belongings.
An example of using this strategy in action involves a paper cutter that I had on a desk in my office for years. I only used it a few times a year yet it occupied nearly one third of the space on one of my desks. I came to the same revelation about my scanner. With those two items off my desk I have a more functional work environment.
Its not a perfect system but generally speaking, I have the items I need handy in easy to reach places. And when I need something else, I have a pretty good idea about where to find it because I know it will likely be in the room I normally use it in and the shelf or drawer location that relates to how often I use it. The scissors are on the desk, the pens are in the top drawer, the paper is in the middle drawer and the paper cutter is in the bottom drawer. It has worked for me in the office, kitchen, workshop and garage.
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