Make Conscious Trade-offs
When you’re in the process of getting organized, and later, when you’ve achieved the level of organization you want and you’re maintaining, you will find that you are constantly called upon to make trade-offs. Here are some examples:
- More space or more stuff. Which do you want more: to own everything you want to own, or to have enough room in your home? You probably can’t have both. (If you could, you wouldn’t need this book, right?)
- More space or more time. Which do you want more: fewer clothes (thanks to judicious pruning of your wardrobe) with frequent laundry duties, or tons of clothes in jam-packed closets and drawers with occasional laundry marathons?
- More stuff or more money. When considering a new purchase, which do you want more: the item or the money? When considering purging an existing item, which do you want more: the object and its attendant upkeep costs (cleaning, protecting, the square footage it occupies) or the availability of that space for something else?
The decisions you make with these trade-offs determine how organized you are and will remain into the future. Get used to making these trade-offs consciously, based on how they contribute to your organizing priorities. Here are some examples from my house:
- I have two towel racks in the main bathroom that will hold a total of eight rolled bath towels. I wanted to use wall space instead of cabinet space to store towels (applying another key concept: Go Up), so I have consciously chosen to own just eight bath towels and to do laundry more often.
- My mom gave me a new set of dishes (service for 12) for my last birthday. I decided to donate the old set, because I have no need for more than one set of dishes. I considered keeping the old set as a backup, an option that most people find tempting (even professional organizers), but I satisfied that urge in a different way. I put only eight place settings from the new set in the cabinet for regular use, and stored the other four as replacement parts for the breakage that’s bound to occur eventually.
- Last year my Great-Aunt Lil passed away and bequeathed all of her furniture to me. It’s beautiful and well-made, and although I already had a houseful of furniture, I wanted to incorporate these pieces, so I made some trade-offs and sacrificed some space. Now my living room is stuffed with a couch, a loveseat with two built-in recliners, two armchairs, a center coffee table, an entertainment center, two bookcases, and three end tables, and so it’s less spacious than I prefer, but I value these items over the space they would free up.
- I go shopping for groceries and household supplies more often than I would like to. I choose to make more frequent trips as the lesser of two evils: I don’t like shopping, but I really don’t like schlepping dozens of bags from store to car to house, making room to stockpile months’ worth of food and supplies, or spending hundreds of dollars at a time. Plus, I try to eat fresh produce every day, so I have to go to the store at least once a week anyway.
What trade-offs are you making right now that could be changed to better serve your organizing efforts?