Do you have items that are on their last legs?  That is, have you ducBroken piggybankt-taped (either literally or figuratively) something that you depend on?  What would happen if it stopped working?  For example, has your computer done things lately that let you know that the hard drive is just about to die…but you keep hoping it will just hang on a while longer?  The last time you used your big flashlight, did you have to bang it against your hand so it would flicker back to life?  And how will it be the next time your electricity goes out for a couple of hours and your flashlight doesn’t work at all?

Here are some thoughts on putting in pockets around your STUFF:

  1. Proactively, you’ll only want to buy the very best you can afford. This is true in every category from kitchen faucets to hair dye to cars. Spend 10% more than you think you can so you’ll save (big time) in the long run.
  2. Help the organization where you work understand this as well. Government agencies, in particular, are famous for being expected to “take the low bid.” Sometimes the low bid is the best one, and other times, the agency is ‘stepping over a dollar to save a dime” as the saying goes. You end up spending so much more in the long run if you buy ‘on the cheap.’
  3. If, and only if, you are an EXPERT in repair of your particular item, should you attempt to repair anything yourself. If you factor in the time you expend (and the wear-and-tear on your personal relationships) when you attempt to make an amateur repair, the real cost(s) becomes apparent.
  4. Keep an up-to-date list of “Experts” in your address book. Put them all under “E.” You’ll forget their names from time to time–especially if the pocket has run out on a particular item and you need to get something repaired immediately.
  5. If you elect to buy service contracts, write in your planner when you’ll call for your free check-up appointments. Yet another reason to have a good planner system.
  6. Keep a list taped to the inside of a cupboard for things you’d like to have replaced that are currently marginal (a new tape measure, a great flashlight, a set of tiny screwdrivers for repairing your glasses, etc.). Tell folks that this list is there and they should consult it when they want to get you a little something. Then, when you receive the gift, seek out the old item and THROW IT AWAY. These will truly be gifts you appreciate. (Consider using the list as ideas for things that you’ll buy others.)
  7. Constantly get rid of non-working/non-functional items. If you’re staring at a lamp (as I was when I first wrote this) that needs to be re-wired, and you’ve been staring at it for more than a few weeks (make that months or years), then THROW IT AWAY. If it’s not working, it’s just clutter.
  8. Build a “super-reserve” of certain items. Thomas Leonard, the father of coaching, talked about this idea. For example, when you are at the post office (or wherever you buy your stamps), don’t just buy a roll (or less), buy several rolls. Build a super-reserve so you never have to worry about running out.
  9. Design a way to remind yourself when you are getting low on an item. Sometimes it’s obvious, e.g., when you grab the last package of toilet paper, you know it’s time to put toilet paper on the grocery list. On the other hand, other times it is not as obvious so you need to set up a system. When I travel, I have one little pouch that nothing goes into unless I realize that it needs to be replaced before my next trip. It’s the only pouch I check when I get home since all the other pouches just stay packed and ready to go for the next out-of-town speaking event.
  10. Use the “Use + 2” method for determining pockets for some of your items (but to prevent clutter). If you use one set of queen-size sheets in your home, keep 3 sets (the number you use +2). If you use 2 coffee cups every morning, keep 4. If you use a box of #10 envelopes each month for your work, then keep 2 extra boxes on hand.

All of these ideas need to be adjusted to fit your circumstances. But remember, the definition of what I refer to as pockets is the area around you (and your ‘things’) that provides a cushion, a space, a reserve.  Knowing what to have available can help keep chaos at bay for you.

Layout 1And for strategies to help put pockets of time into your writing, check out Putting Pockets in Your Professional Life: 52 Tips to Implement Immediately. This booklet is for professionals who are frequently rushing from meeting to meeting, promising and then not delivering, or wondering if they will ever “catch up.” In this booklet, readers will find tools to support them in our often-crazy world so that they can live their professional lives more peacefully and productively.