As we look forward to everything that a new year will bring into our lives, I think of the saying, “new year, new you”. Don’t diet and exercise companies use the phrase at this time of the year? I’m not sure there is any such thing as a “new you”. I wonder if the saying should be “new year . . . same you . . . new habits”?
Speaking of new habits. If “get organized” is one of your goals for this year, I suggest that you start with something more manageable than the huge task of organizing your entire home and life. Perhaps start by developing new habits around purchasing “stuff”. No matter how much decluttering and physical organizing you do, if you continue to purchase more “stuff”, your organizing efforts will soon be thwarted.
There is a system that many professional organizers use that was coined by Julie Morgenstern many years ago called S.P.A.C.E. S is for Sort, P is for Purge, A is for Assign a Home, C is for Containerize and E is for Equalize. The idea is that you start each organizing project at S and end with E. It’s that word equalize that very few people know and understand. The philosophy is that once you’ve edited your possessions and stored them nicely sorted and organized in proper containers, that every time you bring a new item into your space, you equalize by removing something from that space.
If you keep bringing new stuff into your house and then have to keep removing stuff in order to keep it organized, it’ll still be a lot of work. Believe me, I know that many of you understand the concept but struggle with implementation because of the volume of “stuff” that comes into your home. That’s why I have so many clients whom I visit several times a year to help them keep this system in place.
If we dig deeper and look at how the new items come into your home in the first place, I wonder if staying organized will be much easier. If you follow my column in Herald Homes, you know that I am obsessed with The Minimalists and with the tiny house movement. I am not suggesting that any of us need to be that extreme, but I do believe that having less and buying less makes life simpler and staying organized much easier.
As you can imagine, as a practicing Professional Organizer,I work with people who buy way too much “stuff” and then have to hire me to help them let go of it. If I counted the cost of all the clothes, food, and toys alone that I have dropped off to charity, it would be tens of thousands of dollars. One thing I have heard in the tiny house community is that they are looking to leave a smaller footprint on the planet by consuming less resources. That should be something that we can all embrace and may give you the motivation you need to form new habits around purchasing.
Ask the Question
When you’re caught in the excitement of a new purchase, stop for a brief moment and ask yourself, “Could I live without this item?” or as The Minimalists suggest, “Does this thing add value to my life?”. Maybe, just maybe, instead of buying a bunch of new clothes on sale that you don’t really need, you can save your money and have a new closet unit installed so you can enjoy the clothes you already have. Or maybe, instead of buying a bunch of bins to put all your stuff in, you can save your money, give your “extra stuff” to someone in need, and save for that kitchen renovation you’ve been dying to work on with me!
What are some new habits you might consider for 2020?