Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Being Organized Pays

So in case you haven't noticed, I'm a fan of being organized. I prefer investing the time and effort up front, which allows for less stress on the back end. 43 Folders' post on his organizational pursuits reminded me of the nuances of getting and staying organized. If you have limited storage space, which we do, being organized is crucial. It means you don't have to spend hours trying to find and retrieve something (barring the occassional keys snafu). 43's lightbulb moment came when he realized that he was organizing, but not eliminating. That's a huge part of being organized, though. Shuffling useless stuff throughout your home can be easy, unfortunately.
Possible thoughts:

(1) It's still good - I'm sure it is. Aunt Glinda gave you that coffee maker, but you already had one. You kept it because you didn't want to hurt her feelings, but you've never used it. Sure, it's still good, but guess what. Not to you. I have trouble discarding things that are "still useful," too, which is why we make periodic donations to local charities. You might consider eBay, freecycle, or charities like Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or local shelters.

(2) You might use it again - You bought that dress with good intentions, but you wore it once and it no longer fits. If you hold on to something like clothes waiting for them to fit again or to come back into fashion, you're just avoiding the inevitable. I'm not trying to be a pessimist here, but it's important to be rational. And we're beyond that...we're ruthless. If you haven't worn it in a year, assuming it's not seasonal (e.g., ski clothes), why is it taking up precious space? If you're really hesitant, put it in a box out of sight for a year. If you forgot it even existed, come on! Give that dress a new life on someone else ;-)

(3) It was expensive and you don't want to have to buy it again if you find out you need it - If you didn't use it the first time, you won't use it the second time.

I'm sure there are many other reasons to keep things that you can't bear to part with, but the point is to evaluate your reasoning and examine your logic. Are you keeping things for emotional reasons? Do you have enough space for the stuff you've accumulated? Even if you do, is the extra clutter and maintence (e.g., cleaning around stuff) necessary and worth it to you?

The interesting side effect of purging our closets is a mental shift that has resulted in saving money. I don't impulse buy (as much) because I'm much more conscious of the ramifications of my purchase. The big questions I ask myself when shopping are:

(1) Can I afford the expense? - Is it worth the price? Will it put a dent in my budget?

(2) Can I afford the space? - Where will I put it? Will it create clutter? Will I have to get rid of something else in order to keep this? Is that worth it to me? I find this question especially useful with toys because I want to give our little guy everything, but he hardly cares. He'll play with a cardboard box just as well as an expensive toy. We can only store so many toys, and he's usually happier playing with one of us than the stuff we buy him. Added bonus.

(3) Do we need it?- Better yet, will we use it? Do I do things that require this tool (e.g., if I didn't bake, I wouldn't need a stand mixer--and yes, I need my stand mixer). Unitaskers are lame. Do I have something else that could substitute for this (e.g., paella pans are for people who don't know you can make paella in a pot)? It doesn't matter how small or cheap something is if I won't use it. It's just taking up needed space, which defeats my organizational efforts.

On that note, a friend suggested to think about purchases for a month, and if you still want/need it, get it. Stopping to think about purchases really keeps your budget in check.

Whatever you decide to keep, store it wisely. Personally, I like storage boxes, space bags (when the seal works, which has been a nuisance), and my trusty label maker. You can fit more in a box with space bags, and if you label things, you don't have to rummage to find anything. Put little sachets of I'm a virgo and a little OCD, in case you haven't noticed.

Do you have any tips to share?