“…out in these woods I used to hunt.  Don’t worry, babe.  I’ve got your back and I’ve also got your front.  I’d hate to waste a night like this.  I’ll keep you safe you wait and see.  The only thing allowed to crawl all over you when we get there is me.  ‘Cause I’d like to see you out in the moonlight.  I’d like to kiss you way back in the sticks.  I’d like to walk you through a field of wildflowers and I’d like to check you for ticks…”

Please tell me you at least chuckled when you read those lyrics.  Maybe a giggle?  A  snicker?  Come on, Brad Paisley is funny!  Seriously, I LOL every time I even think about this song!  (That’s right, I said LOL.)  Best. Pick up. Line. Ever.  You know, equal parts mischievous and healthy concern.  You don’t want your girl to walk away from a date with Lyme disease.  That would be pretty tough to come back from.  “Oh, how’d you meet?” “He’s the reason I got Lyme.” “Um, oh.  Huh.  Well…”  It’s both flirty AND practical!

Now I don’t know about y’all, but I’m NOT a camper.  As a matter of fact, I’ve never been camping.  I prefer to rough it with indoor plumbing and WiFi.  Plus, I’d really rather not be mauled by a bear.  I’m chubby and slow.  The bear WILL catch me.  Catch me and feast.  I do, however, love to use a camping analogy when organizing.  You know, since it’s bear-free and all.

It’s called the base camp and outposts strategy.

I introduced you to the annex last week  (If you missed that post you can find it by clicking here!) and while the base camp and outposts strategy is sorta similar, they’re still their own animal. (Get it?  Animal? Base camp?  Bear?  Okay, I’ll stop.)

The annex is a purposeful secondary storage location for a group of items that don’t fit in their primary storage location.  An annex is dependent on the fact that you actually have extra storage space somewhere else in your house.

The base camp and outposts strategy just means that a group of items has an assigned primary storage location but those same items can be found in smaller amounts in other purposeful locations throughout your home.  The base camp and outposts strategy is NOT dependent on additional storage space.

Are you thoroughly confused?  It’s okay.  It’ll get better.  Just keep reading.

Picture this.  You live in a two-story house.  Your laundry room is on the first floor.  This is where you keep your cleaning supplies.  You have a bathroom on the first floor and two on the second floor.   Instead of keeping all of your bathroom cleaning items in your laundry room, you keep most of them there but store a few specific items in each bathroom.  Perhaps a Clorox Toilet Wand, a package of disinfecting wipes and some shower spray.  This means that your base camp for cleaning supplies is in your laundry room but you have an outpost in each bathroom.   Each outpost allows you to keep a few key items at your fingertips so you can scrub that ring off of your toilet when you see it instead of traipsing all the way back downstairs to MAYBE get your supplies but more likely to just get distracted.

Now think about office supplies, of which you have MANY.  Like, A. LOT. You’re going to need a place to store all that crap.  One specific, assigned location.  The office supply base camp.  The thing is, you use different office supplies throughout your home.  You keep a few pens, stapler, hole punch, sticky notes and paper clips on your desk.  You have a pen cup with some sticky notes next to your mail basket.  Your husband keeps white out and a few pencils and pens in that basket of his beside the couch.  There’s a pad of paper in the kitchen for the grocery list. These are your outposts.   When you run out of something at an outpost, you get a refill from your base camp.  Your base camp is neatly stored away out of sight so it doesn’t look like you’re running a black market office supply store out of your home.

Maybe this strategy is hitting you a little wrong.  I mean, after all, aren’t you supposed to store like items together?  Yes.  Yes, you are.  It doesn’t make sense to be running to your hall closet every time you need to use the stapler though.  This strategy allows you to have one purposeful home for your items that EVERYONE knows about but to still keep small amounts of supplies right where you need-AND USE- them the most.

Think about a nail file.  I’m a recovering nail biter so I’ve gotta have those things all over the place.  On my beside table.  The pen cup on my desk.  My purse.  In with my make-up brushes.  It doesn’t make sense for me to get up and go into the bathroom cabinet and root around in my nail stuff every time I have a hang nail.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s why I bit my nails for so long.  A stupid file was never convenient!  Since I’ve established a series of nail file outposts, it’s way easier to grab one instead of using my teeth.  AND when one breaks or wears out, I go to toiletry base camp to get a new one.

Not only does the base camp and outposts strategy allow you to keep items where you actually use them, but it also helps you put your hands on an item more quickly. Think about this for a second.  Your kid needs a pencil.  He’s yelling “MA! I NEED A PENCIL!  AND SOME MEATLOAF!” Instead of yelling back something along the lines of “GOOD LUCK WITH THAT”, you can tell him to check outpost  A and outpost B.  If he can’t find any pencils at either of those locations,  then he should check the base camp.  If there aren’t any pencils in base camp, then he’s shit out of luck and needs to start carving a stick.

Here’s a little quiz.

You live in a three story house.  Your kids have a playroom in the basement.  At night, they like to read books in bed on the third floor. They also like to play card games in your bedroom on the second floor. Maybe you’re teaching them to gamble.  They’ve gotta pay their way through college somehow, right?  Do you:

A.  Make them put their books and card games away in the playroom every night before bed.

B.  Establish a toy annex in the attic because clearly they have too many toys if they’re not all contained in the playroom.

C.  Set up an outpost for books in each kid’s bedroom as well as a small outpost for card games in your bedroom.  Each outpost is purposeful, clearly labeled and checked regularly to see if any items in it can be safely returned to base camp.

Did you pick C?  YAY!  Good job!

See, organization is supposed to make your life EASIER.  It’s not supposed to run you ragged.  That’s the genius of the base camp and outpost strategy!

Now, the MAIN difference between the annex and base camp/outposts is accessibility.  You’re not going to get into the annex all that often so it doesn’t need to be as convenient.  The base camp though?  That’s still the primary storage location for a set of items so convenience is key. Run out of printer paper?  Go to office supply base camp.  A candle burns out?  Decor base camp, here you come!  And if you’re out of something in base camp then you know it’s time to restock.

On the off chance that you’re  not quite pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down, here’s a little illustration that might help.  Yes, I did draw it myself. You’re welcome.  And don’t hesitate to ask questions!

The Annex vs Basecamp and Outposts