Clients always seem amused and relieved to find that I have my own organizing issues to deal with. I tell them, “I’m organized, not perfect!” If you and I both have a pile of clutter on the kitchen counter, the difference between us is that I know it’s a temporary situation, and that it will be easy for me to get it back under control. My home is relatively tidy, organized, and clean… for the most part… but don’t open that one door, or get out your white gloves! And I am sometimes late…. but not often, and not by more than a few minutes.
What fascinates me are the people who are surprised (if not horrified) at some of the things I choose NOT to organize. These are usually friends and family who visit my home and see for themselves. They can’t understand why a professional organizer would NOT organize something. Why is everything not alphabetized and situated to OCD standards? Well… what is the point of organizing? The point is to enable you to find your stuff when you need it, right? Also to make it easy to put your stuff away again where it belongs. Making it look pretty is nice, and more important to some than to others, but it’s secondary to functionality, if you ask me. More organizing is more work. The trick is to organize as much as you need to… and no more. It’s true what they say: Organized people are just too lazy to look for things!
Here are some personal examples. Keep in mind that these systems work for me, but they might not work for you. It depends on how much stuff you have; how much storage space is available to you; how big your family is; and your personal goals, style, and preferences. When working with a client, my job is to find a system that will work for them, not for me.
Clothes: I organize by Casual (wear at home, for exercise, or to the grocery store), and Less Casual (suitable for a networking event or whatever). Within those categories I group tops and bottoms. That’s about it. I don’t sort by color or sleeve length because I don’t need to. Keep in mind, I don’t have very many clothes, and they all live in the same closet all year long. Also, I’m the only one using that closet. I don’t have seasonal clothing other than a few shorts and tank tops for summer; I just wear more, or fewer, layers. I do have a variety of jackets in the hall closet which, if I had a family, would need some seasonal switching out due to space limitations.
Socks: All my socks go in the sock drawer. There is nothing in the sock drawer besides socks, and there are no socks elsewhere (except the laundry). That’s organized enough for me. I don’t feel the need to pair them up, much less stick them into a honeycomb sock organizer! (My poor friend gave me the one in the photo as a gift, never imagining that I wouldn’t put it to immediate use.) If you have lots of different kinds of socks, or a family whose socks are co-mingled in the laundry, this might not work for you.
Spices: I do not alphabetize my spices! I also don’t cook that much, so I might not have as many spices as you do, either. I keep mine in two places: Baking spices are up on a high shelf with other baking stuff because I only use them a few times per year. Savory spices are within arm’s reach of the stove. It only takes me two seconds to find the spices I want, so more organizing isn’t going to help me.
Papers: In How to Create Your Own Simple Filing System, I suggested grouping related files into broad categories, like Utilities and Insurance, and not by vendor name. The fewer file categories you have, the less need there is for alphabetizing, and the easier it is to find what you need. This one is true for everybody, not just me.
Books: I have two book shelves in my house. Ten shelves altogether. I do have a few categories: Newbery Medal winners; books about organizing and business; books I haven’t read yet; and everything else. It really isn’t that hard to find a particular book. So why organize them further?
Of course, the less stuff you have, the easier it is to organize it. And find it later. And put it away. And clean around it. Owning more stuff leads to taking care of more stuff; needing more elaborate organizing systems to find it; more difficulty putting it back where it belongs; and cleaning around it.
If you ever feel you are in danger of being over-organized, ask yourself these questions:
- Is the level of organizing that I am considering (or already maintaining) worth the trouble (time, mental energy, and expense)?
- Will it really make it easier to find what I am looking for?
- Will it make it easier, or harder, to put things back where they belong when I finish using them?
What are you over-organizing? Or, what did you feel inadequate about, until you read this, because it wasn’t as organized as you thought it should be?
Are you relieved to hear that simpler might be better? Or do you just think I’m a lazy slob? LOL!
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Copyright 2015 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
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