I didn’t think I was a collector of anything until I was shopping with my daughter in a used bookstore. I was browsing in the “Organizing/Time Management/Productivity section and she reminded me how many books in that category I already owned. She may have suggested I had a problem. I thought about the shelf and a half in the bookcase where they lived in my house and I realized she was right.
I didn’t buy any books that day, and over time I gave away most of those in that category that I owned, keeping only a handful. The numerous ebook titles on my Nook and the Audible versions of others don’t take up any physical space so I don’t count those. And I don’t read most of them anymore.
The organizing books were easiest to let go.
I finally figured out that it’s impossible to organize too much stuff.
When you have too much stuff no amount of organizing is going to make it easier to deal with. You can buy all the cute boxes, drawer units and containers you want – if you simply have too much then you’ll still have trouble dealing with it all.
The ultimate organizing tip is to get rid of much of what you own.
When you start to get rid of more and more things that no longer serve you (if they ever did) you don’t need so much help organizing it.
- There’s room for it all in the space you have.
- You can remember what you have so you can find whatever you need – easily – whenever you want to.
It’s more than “decluttering.” When you think of decluttering you usually think about a corner (or an entire room) that has a pile of stuff that needs to go somewhere else. You attack that pile, put away, donate and dispose of the items and you’ve decluttered! The fact that you can’t find what you need in every other room in the house, because what you need is buried under and behind piles and piles of other items you own….. Well, let’s not think about that.
But all the stuff you own causes you a lot of stress.
The other day I watched A Cluttered Life: Middle Class Abundance on YouTube (I love YouTube. Everything is on YouTube, and it takes up no space – ha!). It recounted a study and subsequent book by UCLA anthropologists. They studied the consumption habits of dual income American middle class families. Thirty-two brave families allowed these social scientists to come into their homes, take pictures and count each and every item in each room (and garage) of their homes. The anthropologists opened every cabinet and every drawer. They went into the children’s rooms. They opened the refrigerators. And freezers in the garage. (Anthropologists are so nosey!)
Are you horrified yet?
These anthropologists state that contemporary American households have more possessions per household than any other society in human history. These possessions are causing a significant amount of stress, particularly for women in the household who feel responsible for keeping it tidy, and who are bothered by the clutter the possessions cause. If clutter bothers you, you can be sure that your cortisol levels are higher than they would be if you had no clutter. (Hooray for those women who are bothered not at all! They experience no added stress.)
Even though I’ve gotten rid of a substantial portion of what I once had in my space, I’m determined to rid myself of more after watching this video!
It’s an ongoing process.
Still, I feel like I’ve solved the problem of feeling like I need books on ‘organizing stuff.’ I feel calm and content in my surroundings and all the rooms in the house feel spacious, though none are very large. But I’ve continued to struggle with time management and being productive at work and at home. All the tips and hacks that were offered in the books I got rid of and the books I decided to keep weren’t helping me solve my time management and productivity problems.
- I still wasn’t “Getting Things Done” no matter how many hours I worked at projects (there are so many!)
- I often nearly missed scheduled appointments – without the reminder calls from diligent office workers, I wouldn’t have gone to them
- The stack of files I have to deal with at my job never got smaller.
And the books didn’t help at all with the overwhelm I experienced, the crushing weight I felt when I started thinking about everything that I needed to do both at work and at home.
That is, until I started to think differently about the concepts of time and productivity.
I’ll share more about that next time!
In the meantime, what are your thoughts about stuff? Are you content with what surrounds you at home or does it bother you?
Do you have any unrecognized ‘collections’ even if you’re not a collector?
Leave a comment and share!
Thanks so much for stopping by, See you next time!