Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Breaking the Rules

Two basic organizing guidelines are:

1. Store like with like - all the vases, all the craft supplies, all the snack foods, all the garden tools, etc.

2. Eliminate duplicates. If you bought a great new can opener, get rid of the old annoying one. If you have ten pairs of black slacks, are three of them your favorites while the others never get worn? If so, let those unworn pairs find a new home.

But sometimes these two guidelines are trumped by another one: store frequently-used items where they will be used.

Gretchen at The Happiness Project writes about the perils of over-consolidating:

"I was always slightly annoyed by my need to run around the apartment getting this or that — a screwdriver, a pair of scissors, some Advil. Finally, light dawned, and I realized that as an expression of my love of clearing clutter, I was an over-consolidator.

I’d consolidated all the tools in the toolbox, all the scissors in the office-supply drawer, all the medicine in the medicine cabinet. Not a good idea. Some items SHOULD be spread around.

I put a screwdriver, a pair of scissors, and a bottle of Advil in the kitchen. I scattered scissors throughout the apartment. Etc."

My favorite personal example: I realized at one point that I needed two label makers - one for my office, and one for the car to take to client sites. Anything else made it too cumbersome to create my own files, or to be prepared for client visits. So I bought a second labeler, just like my first one. I've never regretted it.


Suzanne said...

I couldn't agree with you more! Being organized doesn't mean that everything should be where the text book says. It should be where YOU need it, where YOU will find it, where YOU want it! Because in the end, it's all about YOU! =) Thanks for pointing it out!

Jeri Dansky said...


I just gave a talk about organizing today, and I stressed just this idea. I never suggest the exact same organizing solution to any two people, because each person has his/her own style and needs.


John Trosko said...

Good to see you back blogging, Jeri. I am thinking about you...

Interesting idea. I had never really thought about over-consolidating at all. I totally can see how it can hurt someone. But if you live in a small home, it makes perfect sense. Bigger home, not.

- John

Jeri Dansky said...

Hi John,

Thanks; it feels good to be back.

I was thinking that over-consolidation might be an issue particularly in homes with two (or more) floors; going up and down the stairs all the time, while great exercise, might get old.