Out on Your Own: 31 Basic Life Skills in 31 Days” draws to a close
today, we’d like to use the final post in the series to discuss
a saying your grandfather was probably quite fond of: “A place
for everything and everything in its place.”
likely used that maxim too, and his grandfather as well. It actually
first appeared in print way back in 1640. The saying was born among
sailors, who needed to both keep things orderly in the tiny galleys
and cabins below deck, and to make sure all their tools and ropes
were placed and secured properly up above, so that things didn’t
wash overboard when the ship was rocked by storms and waves.
then, while you are little boys, let there be order in everything.
Try and have a place for everything and everything in its place.
If your father has things in that way, see that you place everything
back after using it. Hours, days, yea, months and years, are wasted
by too many in hunting tools and farming implements; time thus
wasted is time needlessly lost, precious time that will never
return…I mention this first because it is first in importance.
It governs your every act through life. If you start life
thus and have a place for everything, you cannot fail to make
good farmers.” -Report of the Secretary of the Iowa
State Agricultural Society, 1865
“A place for
everything and everything in its place” came ashore in the 19th
century, and was adopted most rigorously by farmers, who owned and
used a wide variety of tools and pieces of equipment, and who couldn’t
afford to leave them to rust in the rain or exposed to elements
during winter. Keeping track of their tools ensured they could get
to work when they needed to, and there was always plenty of work
to be done.
The maxim was
subsequently taken up by men in all trades and businesses, white
and blue collar alike, who saw how having a set place for their
tools and papers, both at home and at work, contributed to their
success. The standard espoused in old books was for a man to be
able to dress himself in the dark or find any tool in his shed with
his eyes closed.
While a man’s
tools and necessities may have changed over the centuries, the wisdom
in “a place for everything and everything in its place” remains
the same. Whether at school, work, or home, creating a system of
order for your possessions will create numerous benefits in your
Importance of Having a Place for Everything and Everything in Its
of every grade must especially avoid slovenliness: they
must bear in mind the proverb, ‘A Place For EVERYTHING AND EVERYTHING
IN ITS PLACE’…When a soldier can bring himself to be habitually
exact in small things, he may be safely regarded as reliable in
important matters: but he who is negligent over apparent trifles,
will find it difficult, if not impossible, to be punctual on occasions
of the greatest moment.” -The Manual of the Patriotic Volunteer
on Active Service in Regular And Irregular War, 1855
a place for everything and everything in its place saves time (and
too). Do you know someone (perhaps yourself!) who spends
ten minutes looking for his keys every single morning? Or a gent
who every time he leaves the house, must turn it inside out searching
for his wallet? When you have a set place for all of your possessions,
you can grab them and go. You’ll never be late for a job interview,
date, or other important event for a silly reason like not being
able to find something you need.
in the habit of haphazardly dropping things around the house, you
may do so because you feel it takes too much time to put them in
their proper places, or because you’re just too tired from a long
day of work. But by spending and expending a minute of time and
a bit of energy now, you’ll save yourself from a ten minute hunt
and a lot of hassle the next day.
a place for everything and everything in its placesaves
money. Sometimes a hunt for a lost item comes up empty
– it is never found again, forcing you to buy a replacement. You
don’t have any idea what happened to it – and that’s precisely the
problem. There’s no set place you keep it, so it could have ended
misplaced item is eventually found – but because it was stored carelessly,
it was damaged, and you still have to buy another.
post about being a savvy consumer, we mentioned that a man should
not seek to own a great many things, but that those things he does
possess should be of good quality. Well, once a man obtains a quality
item, he must then take care of it in order to make it last. To
live the principle of “a place for everything and everything in
its place,” is to refuse to follow the dictums of a disposable society.
a place for everything and everything in its place will make life
smoother and less stressful. As we’ve mentioned a few times
during this series, keeping your place in order gives you a sense
of peace and confidence, and conserves
your willpower. Being able to get out the door without first
running around like a headless chicken only adds to this invaluable
sense of calm and control.
safety and comfort in the field will depend upon the manner in
which you keep your arms and equipment. You must take particular
care not to lose them, as you may not be able to replace them
by the time you will need them most. Before dark, place everything
where you can quickly find it in the dark. Remember that carelessness
in the protection and condition of your arms and equipment may
cost you your life or health, or that of a comrade.” –Army
Field Manual 21-100, 1941
a place for everything and everything in its place prepares you
for an emergency. At boot camp, members of the armed forces
are rigorously drilled in strict discipline – their uniforms, beds,
and lockers must all be kept just so. For a soldier, attention to
little details can mean the difference between life and death. He
needs to know where his equipment is every moment — an attack
can come any time so he must be always ready to spring into action.
abode may never come in for a shelling, it’s nice to know that if
you ever had to run out the door quickly or jump out of bed in the
middle of the night, you could dress yourself, grab what you needed,
and be gone in a flash. By the way, according to ITS Tactical, the
proper order of dressing when awakened during such a crisis
is pants, socks, then shoes.
Place for Everything
in order to have everything in its place, you have to establish
the places you’re going to put your things. Your selection of places
shouldn’t be done willy-nilly, either; if they’re inconvenient
or ill-chosen, you won’t use them, and the habit of putting things
there won’t stick. The place should be intuitive – putting your
stuff in it should require the least possible thought and effort.
It should be entirely natural. You’re not going to want to climb
on a chair to reach a shelf to retrieve and replace something every
day, for example. The place you choose to put something has to preserve
the quality of the item and protect it from damage as well.
Of course there
are as many methods for storing things as there are different items
to be stored, and every man will have his own system. Below I walk
you through the possible placement of some of the most common possessions
for men, as well as offer my personal suggestions on how to organize
and store them.
We men often
carry around a lot in our pockets — smartphone, wallet, pocketknife,
handkerchief, keys — and so on. We need these items every
day, so they should be as easy as possible to grab each morning
when we head out the door.
hook. The minute you step through the door — keys
go up on the key hook. Now this isn’t strictly necessary if
you have a dresser valet/box (see below) into which you plan to
deposit your keys along with the rest of the contents of your pockets
when you change into your lounging wear or pajamas. But even then,
if you share the car with someone else or don’t have a habit
of putting your keys back into your pocket and instead tend to plop
them on the counter or couch, the key hook still comes in handy.
There will also be times when you want to retrieve something from
your car, but don’t want to walk into your bedroom to get
your phone, pocketknife, wallet, spare keys, etc into a dresser
valet or other receptacle.
valet. Instead of dumping all of your pocket accoutrements
on top of your dresser at the end of the day, depositing various
items around the house, or leaving them in the pockets of the pants
sitting in your hamper, place them all in a dresser valet. That
way in the morning you can grab everything you need without spending
ten minutes looking for your phone and keys.
dresser valets with drawers and chargers for your phone and
whatnot are available, but if you’re just starting out and
on a budget, a $3 basket from Hobby Lobby or even a topless shoebox
will do — anything that keeps your stuff together in one place
will work fine and dandy.
got me this coin bank for Christmas one year. It’s made
with the door of an old post office box.
bank. Coins always somehow end up in every conceivable
nook and cranny in your house. So every man should have a bank in
which to place his change. It’s really worthwhile to pick
change up wherever you see it at home and when you’re out
and about as well, and then to deposit it in your bank at the end
of the day. I knew a guy who would actually throw away his pennies!
Foolishness! Just save your coins for a long time, and then put
them into rolls, and exchange the rolls for cash at the bank (unless
they have a handy coin-counting machine you can dump your whole
loose stockpile into) — you’ll be surprised how much
green stuff your pocket change will amount to. There’s something
so satisfying about turning your coins into cash.
have a wallet that also holds my iPhone. I find that keeping them
together this way is quite handy.
If you don’t keep your wallet organized, it can quickly swell
Costanza-sized proportions. An overstuffed wallet looks silly
when you pull it out, is uncomfortable to carry in your pants, and
makes your jacket lopsided when kept in a jacket pocket (not to
mention possible back problems if you’re sitting on it all day).
A giant wallet can also create creases in your pants or jacket which
can shorten the life of the garment.
So clean out
your wallet regularly, and only put things in it that belong there:
credit cards, ID cards, business cards, photos of loved ones
Discount club membership and library cards (keep in car, or grab
for a specific trip when you’ll need them), Social Security
card (very risky if wallet is stolen — keep at home), condoms
(can degrade in your wallet), receipts (transfer to files when
you get home — see below), too many coins (unless it’s
a major part of the currency in your country)
an area where our best-laid plans for order often go awry: our garments
frequently end up slung over chairs, tossed on the bed, crumpled
in piles on the floor, and spilling out of dresser drawers.
But by the
same token, taking time to put away our clothes properly will go
a very long way in keeping our bedrooms looking neat. Getting ready
in a messy environment puts you in an out of sorts mood right from
the get go, whereas waking up to a neat room in the morning really
helps get your day started off on the right foot. Plus, proper care
and storage of your clothes will make them last longer, saving you
There are a variety of ways to organize your dresser — you
might choose to group clothes together by weight, season, or use.
It also depends on how many drawers your particular dresser has.
Here’s how I do mine:
underwear, socks, undershirts.
dividers are handy for keeping your underwear/sock drawer from
becoming a chaotic mess and can help organize your others drawers
as well. The expandable dividers seen here are quite handy, but
a little pricey; if you’re on a budget, shoe boxes or tissue
boxes from which the top panel has been removed can also work.
Fill it with the things you reach for most. Mine has got t-shirts
and workout clothes.
Shorts, pants, sweaters. You might also put these types of items
on a shelf in your closet.
I put my seasonal-specific
clothes in a plastic tub depending on the season, and then rotate
them into the dresser as the weather warms or cools.
you stack your clothes into nice piles inside your dresser drawers,
as soon as you pull something out that’s in the middle or bottom
of the stack, the piles topple over into a mishmashed heap. A
method that will keep things a bit neater is the file fold method.
My drawers are too shallow for it, but it allows you to see all
your garment choices and draw one out without disrupting things.
If you want to give it a try, let this nice lady show you how:
year, take everything out of your drawers, remove anything you
haven’t worn in a year and donate those garments, then refold
everything and put it back.