Monday Musings: The 5 Ss--S-3 Set Locations and Visual Cues

How did you do with week two? Personally, I'm pleased to report that I now have bright, shiny, sharp and unbent pins on my magnetic pincushion. Yep, I ponied up for that new pack of pins. As Maureen pointed out in a recent comment on a previous blog post, if I keep this pack of pins for 15 years like the old one, I'm only spending 80 cents a year. I think I can live with that.


S-3 Set Locations and Visual Cues

This week, we're supposed to set locations and visual cues. 

Do you have set locations for things, or do they tend to wander about your sewing room? My biggest issue was my glasses. I don't wear glasses all the time, but the older I get, the more I rely on readers. I have several pairs with the intention of having a pair near anywhere I may need to do anything. The problem is that I tend to wear them to another area and leave them there, with the end result being a pile of 5 pairs of glasses next to one chair and none to be found anywhere else. In my sewing room, it wasn't quite as big a deal because my one pair of actual prescription glasses lives on my office desk--so if I didn't have a pair of readers at my sewing machine or cutting table, I could just walk a few steps and use my "real" glasses. However, then I'd wear them out of the room and the next morning when I started work, well, let's just say I wouldn't be a happy camper.

One day at Target, I noticed a couple of handy-dandy 3M wall storage units. I immediately thought, "Those are great for keeping track of my readers!"

So now one pair lives next to my cutting table. I can honestly say this pair has never wandered out of my sewing room. Other pairs have periodically wandered in to visit for a time, but for the most part, knowing I already have glasses here, I'm less inclined to keep downstairs glasses on my head when going upstairs.


The glasses-holder near my sewing machine also doubles as a place to keep spools of thread when I have to change colors out in mid-project but know I'm going to want to use the one I'm removing again. Another problem solved. 

To be honest, I rarely wear these glasses because I'm usually wearing the other pair from the wall or my desk. But they still come in handy if I decide to grab 10 minutes at my machine on the spur of the moment and don't already have a pair of glasses on.

And then I picked up a third cpntainer to hold my rotary cutters and various other need-to-have-right-at-hand tools at my cutting table. This one sticks to the side of one of the cabinets that makes up my cutting table. Yes, usually my main rotary cutter is just sitting on my cutting mat but if I'm clearing the decks to do something that doesn't involve cutting, my cutter takes a snooze in this container.

I don't like having my rotary cutters, marking pens, and such, in a mug or canister on the surface because those always tip over on me--plus, they become one more thing to have to move out of the way if I'm cutting big pieces of fabric. I really prefer to keep my cutting table surface as clear a possible, although my bluetooth speakers are a must-have for listening to podcasts while I'm sewing. So I do make exceptions. Still, if I can eventually find a 3M shelf the right size to hold those speakers up and out of the way, golden.

I'm pretty good at having set places for things. What about you? Do you have some wanderers that you need to settle down?

For me, visual cues are the answer to "out of sight, out of mind." I know lots of people keep WIPs in grocery bags or boxes or opaque bins. I can't do that. I need to be able to see at a glance what I've got going on. If I stuff something in a bin or a box that I can't see through, it's like it never existed in my life. I suppose, in that regard, I never quite outgrew the infant's perception that if they can't see your face, you've actually disappeared. Poof--it's gone! So for me to remember I've got projects waiting for my attention, they need to be all up in my grill. I've got everything on open shelves and in transparent bins so they catch my eye and remind me they exist.

I also leave myself visual cues when I'm in mid-project. For example, if I finished quilting in the middle of the quilt, I'll leave something unusual (not a tool I was working with at the time, something that would stand out to me) laying on top of the quilt right where I left off--this not only reminds me where I left off, but it reminds me at a glance that hey, I still need to finish quilting that thing! 

Finally, the biggest visual cue I leave myself is my to-do list, or my "next step" list. I talked about this on a recent podcast episode. I've been using a post-it note system for a couple of years now, listing on each post-it one next step for each project I had going on and lining those post-its up on the edge of my cutting table. That way, I could see at a glance what next steps I had to do to move various projects forward, and quickly choose whatever one I was in the mood for or had the time to do. I also had the visual satisfaction of seeing the post-it notes disappear.

Ahem. Yep, there's a lot of post-its languishing on the side of my cutting table these days. I'm slowly taking care of that.

I'm now trying a white board instead, but we'll see if it has that same impact as a visual cue. I'm kind of partial to my post-it system, but see previous comments about trying to lessen the amount of stuff on the surface of my cutting table. 

I feel like I'm already in pretty good shape with S-3, although I'm still trying to find a good home for certain things so I guess I can still use some work on the "set locations" end of things. What about you? What do you feel you do well, and where do you feel you could improve?