Clear to Neutral

So, this has been one of my long-standing favorite efficiency/productivity/organization rules of all time! It’s called… you guessed it… Clear to Neutral! The cool thing about this rule is that it’s just so simple. And once you begin to notice and practice it, it basically becomes a habit! Not only that, but it is super helpful across all areas of life, not just studying! I think I started this in 2012 when I was having a really hard time making myself do schoolwork and I couldn’t figure out why. The answer? FRICTION.
This was the closest thing I had to a messy picture. Not because my home is never messy… but because I’m definitely not going around photographing it when it is!

Friction is anything that you have to do before the thing you need to do. Confusing, yes? But I promise, you know exactly what I’m talking about: Let’s say that you want to study, you go wherever it is that you study but it’s covered in junk that you have to move before you can even begin! Or in the morning, I may want to clean my home but what if I have to put away things that were left out overnight? I’m less likely to get to the ACTUAL cleaning because I have to do yesterday’s work first. And yesterday’s work = Friction.

Clearing my Living Room to Neutral means putting away any glasses, schoolwork, bedroom pillows, shoes, etc. so that I don’t wake up to things already out of place.
And guess what? Friction is a huge contributor to procrastination! And who doesn’t hate procrastination?! So, how can we overcome this and free ourselves of excuses?! That is where Clear to Neutral comes in! The basic idea of this is to leave every space exactly the way you want to find it!
Clearing my closet to Neutral (the hardest) means putting away all jewelry, purses, shoes, dirty clothes in their bag, and hanging up all clean clothes.
For example, I want to easily be able to edit my research paper the next time that I open my computer. In order to do this, I need to save it to a place where I can quickly find it, with a name that I will quickly recognize, and I need to close all of the other open windows or unnamed documents on my computer so that I don’t have to do it next time! Otherwise, they will create friction between me and my schoolwork. And I definitely don’t want that!
Clearing my schoolwork to Neutral means putting every paperback in its appropriate section in every notebook. It also means putting all of those notebooks back where they belong.
Now, whenever I reach a stopping place on a paper/project, I save it and put it in its appropriate folder. I make sure that I put every note from my schoolwork into its appropriate section of my notebook before closing it. That way, when I’m ready to study the next time, I don’t have to look for it or reorganize my notebook. I’ve already done that! I just flip to the correct section, grab my notes, and start! And do a bunch of documents/photos saved on your desktop count as friction? Um… absolutely.
Clearing my office supplies to Neutral means putting every marker, pencil, paper clip, etc. back into its designated container in my “office space”.
Once you get used to looking for it, you’ll realize that friction can literally be all around us! How about our purses? Holy Chicago! That’s like the Mecca of all friction! Closets? Do you have to pick up a bunch of clothes before you can do laundry or choose an outfit for tonight? Bathroom? What if you have to throw away a bunch of old or empty bottles before you can even spray down the bathtub and counter? Cars? Nope. Definitely no problem with friction in my car (#sarcasm).
Clearing my “office space” to Neutral means putting all office supplies away, updating all to-do lists and calendars to reflect the progress I made during my latest work session.
Today, go through your day leaving everything the way you want to find it! 🙂
Have you ever heard of Clear to Neutral? Do you think it could help you become more productive in your daily life? Or are you already using a similar system? 
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Dorm Room Organization

{ So, let me first start out by saying I’M SORRY for how little I’ve been posting since the summer started. As a person who thrives on busy-ness and structure, I have just had the most difficult time ever making myself write regularly when I’m off all day, every day. To most, that would sound like a dream come true, but I know that some of you fellow OCD-y people know exactly what I’m talking about! So, thank you for your patience and just bear with me until I can get a full calendar (or several) again! 🙂 }
Okay. A few weeks ago (I’m lying… it was a few months ago. shhh) a reader asked me to do a post on dorm solution ideas. “Great idea!”, I thought. Then summer happened. So, finally, here it is! AND I feel like the timing is a little perfect because: a. It’s better to get a head start on things like this, and b. The stores are in “summer mode” right now, so it’s a good time to be buying storage supplies for less!
One more thing: I do have to divulge that I’ve never actually lived in a dorm (aside from a week-long softball camp at Auburn), BUT I did live in a studio apartment in college, which is pretty similar! Okay, here we go!

Dorm Storage Solutions:

1: Make sure that you have the right layout.

If you follow me on Pinterest, you may have noticed that I pin a lot of Feng Shui things. Now, before you skip right over this because you don’t believe in “energy flow”, hear me out! So many Feng Shui rules are backed up by psychology, and there is a ton of information out there that discusses how important environmental factors are to learning (which is why most high schools have that medium blue color in the hallways). 
This Greatist Post by Jordan Shakeshaft explains how to arrange a dorm room perfectly! 

2: Banish all clutter.

As with any organization project, clutter is the #1 enemy. This is the rule I use: 
If it doesn’t have a home, find it a home; if you can’t find it a home, get rid of it. 
Tiny spaces are the ones that are the MOST important to keep clutter-free! You know that feeling you get when you walk into an old person’s home and it’s just full of every little figurine or paper they’ve ever received? That’s the feeling that others will get when they walk into your dorm that’s overflowing with textbooks, picture frames, makeup, and clothes that can’t fit into the closet. 
I like to try to get rid of 15 things every week! I promise, it’s easier than it sounds!

3: Find (or make!) a home for everything

The most important part of a “storage solution” is, of course, the storage! In our new loft, I don’t have an office like I did in my house, so I’ve had to hide my office supplies in plain sight (more on that coming soon!). First, make a list of everything you’ll need to store: textbooks, computer, chargers, notebooks, files, etc. Then, look for (or create) pretty storage solutions for each thing! 
I don’t mind displaying things that are uniformed, such as clothespins, paperclips, binder clips, matching pens, etc. However, find a “hidden” home for things that are mismatched, sloppy-looking, or just plain unsightly (used textbooks, for example. EW!). The Container Store, Etsy, Office Max, and Target are just filled with canvas bins, covered storage containers, and cute document boxes. OR, you could take to Pinterest and find ways to create your own pretty storage solutions out of paint cans, plastic cups, shoeboxes, etc!

4: Multi-Purpose items are lifesavers 

Functionality is essential in small spaces! The more purposes that a piece serves, the more valuable it is! Target’s furniture aisle is always filled with $40-ish ottomans that can be used as a table, extra seating for friends, and a place to discreetly store books, extra blankets, or even shoes! Always be on the lookout for things that can pull double duty such as bedside tables with lots of drawers, decorative vases that could store writing utensils, or jewelry organizer/mirror combos!

5: Clean Constantly 

When I was in undergrad, I made the mistake of having a “cleaning day” once a week… which would have been a great idea, if every week looked the same! However, things always came up for me to do on my cleaning day. Then I would get all stressed out over how messy everything was! Now that I’m older (and oh-so-much-wiser), I just do a little bit every day! There are literally hundreds of cleaning systems out there! I use this one from Apartment Therapy! But FlyLady and Modern Parents Messy Kids have some nice ones as well! And, of course, I have a Pinterest board just full of printable to-do lists to help you stay on track! 
It’s never too early to start organizing for the fall! 🙂 
When it comes to storage solutions for small spaces, the options are limitless! Feel free to add any advice, information, or links to your favorite dorm organization solutions below! 

Do you want to know about storing anything specifically?! 
(I would love to have something to research with all this free time! haha)