I recently created a new system for my husband in his office. It is not brilliant or earth-shattering, but it was a conscious decision. He has a group of files that are separate from the rest, and his habit was to place “to-be-filed” papers in front of the cabinet on the floor, with the intention of filing them later. One day I asked (admittedly annoyed by the stack on the floor) if the entire stack was one status. I got a “yes” and scooped the pile up, stuck it in a bin on top of the cabinet. Presto, no more pile on the floor.

 A couple of weeks later, I discovered more papers on the floor, in the same (annoying) spot.

Me: “Are these papers the same filing stack as your new bin?”

Husband: “Yes.”

Me: “Is there any reason I can’t put them in the bin?”

Husband: “No.” (Sound of papers being whisked up and plopped into new bin.)

Me: “I would like you to think of this in a new way. Instead of putting them on the floor, with the idea of putting them in the bin later, how about if you put them directly into the bin?”

Husband: “Oh, yeah, I guess you’re right.”

See? Not earth-shattering, but change does require a conscious effort. My question for you, then, is what habit or organizing system is not working for you right how? Here are some possibilities of how making a conscious change can improve your environment.

Recycling: do you have a recycling bin that does not hold enough recycling? Your bin should hold enough to match how often you take out the recycling. Conscious change: take out the recycling when the bin is full.

Shoes: do you have a spot in your home where shoes tend to end up in a heap? Make it easy on yourself and get a shelf or basket that fits the shoe-heap-spot. Conscious change: all family members find their own shoes and put them away each evening (or once a week, if that works for you).

Books: do you have more books than shelf space? Do you have difficulty purging your book collection, since they feel like friends? My suggestion is to limit your book collection to a specific amount of shelf space. It is up to you to decide how much space that is. Conscious change: when you buy more books, donate an equal amount to the library or sell them at a used bookstore. This will maintain the size of your collection.

Mail: oh, this is such a difficult one. Do you have a ton of incoming mail, and dread processing it every day? I have two suggestions for this one. First, reduce the amount of mail by going to www.dmachoice.org or www.catalogchoice.org or www.41pounds.org and sign up to reduce the junk mail that you will toss anyway. Second, designate a specific spot in your home, such as a basket or bin, to gather all mail as it arrives. Conscious change: schedule a specific day (or days) during the week to sort it, perhaps with your Saturday morning coffee.

What conscious change will improve your environment?

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