I hear a lot of people say they need to “get organized”. When faced with large, untamed piles of stuff, it’s entirely reasonable to have a desire to put that stuff in order.
The only problem with that is that “getting organized”, broadly speaking, means that you generally keep all of your stuff, but find ways to arrange it so that it’s not a huge problem.
Much of the time, people who want to “get organized” don’t need to “get organized” as much as they need to “get downsized”!
The Difference Between “Organized” & “Downsized”
Let’s do a thought experiment, shall we?
Pretend we have, in front of us, an average 5 year old child. That child has a room full of toys, books, etc. You’ve just spent the better part of two days putting all of that child’s toys in boxes and bins, hanging all of his clothes up in his closet and putting them away in dresser drawers, and putting all of his books back on the bookshelf.
With me so far?
Now, imagine that this hypothetical child throws a yelling, screaming, tornado-inspired temper tantrum and throws all of his clothes around, rips all the books off the shelves, upends the boxes and bins, and generally makes a mess of things. I know parents, and this isn’t completely inconceivable!
How long does it take you to get the room back to “normal”?
If it initially took you the better part of two days, it’ll probably take you close to that again, as much of the time required is dictated by the amount of stuff.
But what if, in that same two days, you’d gone through and purged all the excess clothes, the toys the child doesn’t play with, the books that the child no longer reads, and other items that just weren’t valuable to the child anymore?
If you’ve decreased the amount of stuff by half, the time it will take you to clean up has been cut by half – in perpetuity.
In the first scenario, you organized. In the second scenario, you downsized.
Adults Can Be A Lot Like 5-Year-Old Children!
Okay, we’re not likely to go on rampaging tantrums where we upend the contents of our entire house. But that’s not that much difference in practice from some people I’ve known that have found themselves with every pot, pan, utensil, and dish in their kitchen dirty at the same time – to the point where they can’t do dishes because there’s so much in the sink!
It may seem odd to think of it this way, but if you don’t own 20 place settings of dishes and silverware, you can’t have 20 place settings of dishes that are dirty. In the past I’ve deliberately gotten rid of excess dishes in order to force me to wash them more often. I’ve suggested to others that they box up extra sets of dishes if they want to save them for when they have company, rather than just leaving them in the rotation.
And of course it’s not just dishes. Paperwork, books, cables and cords, tools, just about anything really – the less of it you have, the less of a mess it can possibly be. It’s basic physics.
The Benefits Of “Downized”
Reduction of the quantity of stuff that we have, for most people I’ve known, trumps fancy organizational systems. Hands-down. Even if you go crazy with fancy organizing systems and hanging racks for things and all that, you’ll still benefit because you’ll need less organizational equipment to organize your stuff!
But once you’ve started to downsize, you might find something interesting – the organization sometimes starts to take care of itself.
After all, if there’s room in the cupboards for all of your dishes, you don’t have to do the three-handed juggling act to get them all wedged in the cupboard and shut the door before they fall out.
If the only clothes in your closet are clothes you wear, it’s not nearly as hard to get your laundry put away.
You don’t have to come up with a shoe rack that holds 50 pairs of shoes if you only have half a dozen or so good, reliable, comfortable pairs of shoes.
And that’s not even counting the mental benefits, including clearer thinking, more creativity, less stress, and elevated mood!
What’s Holding You Back?
Are you struggling with downsizing or organizing? Pop on over to the private Facebook group, and let us know what’s going on. Or send me an email directly – I’d love to be able to help!