Picture this - you’re outside on a hot day; you go inside and pour a tall glass of water. Did it spill all over the counter? The floor? Into the garage? Of course not – you knew when to turn off the faucet. You knew the capacity of your glass and stopped before you exceeded the level.
Now picture going to see a movie. The theater holds 250 people but 500 tickets were sold, so everyone packs in, two in a seat. There’s people everywhere! Your comfort and enjoyment has been compromised, not to mention your safety.
For public facilities, signs are posted with the capacity and these limits are enforced with good reason.
How does this relate to organizing? It has to do with equilibrium. Essentially, being organized equates to achieving equilibrium; the balance of matching the contents to the capacity of a container. However, those struggling with clutter and disorganization must first begin to view their homes, offices, calendars, purses, garages, closets, even junk drawers as a container with a limited capacity.
Our society makes it too easy to tip the balance and exceed the capacity. With shopping centers on every street tempting us, it’s just way too easy. Ask any teenager to list their hobbies and shopping will make the list. It has become a favorite pastime of many Americans.
Occasionally I’ll hear, “I’ll get rid of this now and go buy another one.” How does that help?
Once equilibrium is achieved, a system is needed to maintain it, either with (1) no additions or (2) addition = subtraction. The first option is not likely but the second option of one in – one out is more realistic. However, we add one, add another and another and so on. Every now and then, yard sales and donation trucks restore our equilibrium, but is only temporary and needed again months later.
You knew when to stop pouring the water – before it spills. Purchases brought home will become clutter spilled out if the capacity is not considered.
Evaluate your container – look at it in a new way. What would the capacity sign read? Mentally post a limit for yourself and adhere to it.
In my small closet, I have had to limit myself to 24 shoes. That’s how many shoe cubbies I could fit without compromising the comfort (think movie theater). If I find a pair of shoes I just “have to have”, I determine IN THE STORE which pair I’m donating. If I don’t want to lose any, I pass on the purchase.
This really works! We set a closet for a client with a specific number of hangers (determined capacity). Years later, she still says it saves her money because she has to decide if she likes the new outfit better than her current wardrobe because she can’t add any hangers. She shops less and smarter.
Giving away more will certainly reduce the clutter, but what about purchasing less?