With red cheeks and profound apologies, I must admit that it wasn't until I went to write this week's post that I realized that last week's post was pretty much a carbon copy of the one from the week before.

Some weeks are like that. Even when you write about organization.

I'm just glad that if I had to make an error like that, at least the posts were about something foundational that could be used across a variety of situations. Still, I apologize for both the inconvenience and the lack of fresh material.

This week, I'm continuing with my closet theme, moving from that plan you read about (twice!) to action.

As it turned out, what I needed was "found time." When a trip I'd planned fell through, I was disappointed, but, motivated by all that writing about closets, I knew just how to take advantage of my windfall.

I also knew I didn't want to create a big mess or spend the whole day on one project, so I set aside an hour to review my bin and drawer situation (in and out of the closet), which is approximately one third of the job. Because my system is (mostly) working, an hour (okay, an hour and half) was enough time for me to make visible progress.

"STYLE Savvy: Found Time and Organizational Improvements" by Lisa Hess (CatholicMom.com) Via Flickr (2010), all rights reserved.

[Tweet "3 ways you can tell your #organization system works, by @L2Hess #STYLEsavvy"]

How can you tell when a system is working?

The side effects of your default styles are minimized -- or better yet, gone. Pile-ups, mystery locations, crushed, torn or broken items and that horrible feeling of being overwhelmed by stuff are wispy memories. In fact, I knew that my closet needed to be re-evaluated because of the re-emergence of pile-ups and visual clutter. If my storage systems were 1) working as they ought to and 2) consistent with my styles, there should have been few pile ups and little visual clutter. Finding the why behind the visual clutter and planning accordingly (in this case, rethinking what went where) resulted in streamlining that will (I hope) make those side effects a thing of the past.

You use it on a regular basis. Good systems are easy to use and maintain. If you're bypassing your system, a key component of one of your styles is probably going unaddressed. Set aside the "shoulds" and plan realistically. Maybe that metal file cabinet that keeps everything hidden is a great tool for your spouse, but if you pile things on top of it instead of opening the drawers, maybe a file holder with an open top is a better fit for your style than the traditional tool that you think you "should" be using.

You can find what you're looking for.  The true proof of a working system is that you can find what you're looking for in five minutes or less. Smoothly running systems earn their keep in saved time and reduced stress. If you have to go on a scavenger hunt for something every time you need it, it may be time to re-think the location you've chosen. This is also true when the supply of something has overrun its container or when you remember where it is, but it takes you more than five minutes to dig it out.

At my house, the first battle of the closet re-vamp wars has been won. I got rid of a few things and  relocated a few things, which created space. Then, what appeared to be visual clutter could easily be given home of its own.

As it turned out, the stuff that was out of place was only a symptom; the real visual clutter was the storage containers themselves. Because they were in the wrong place, they displaced other things, creating an eyesore which greeted me every time I opened the closet door. Once I moved the bins to a different spot in the closet, everything not only worked better, it looked better, too.

And I didn't even need to buy new stuff.

Copyright 2016 Lisa Hess