You see it all the time on organizing blogs and in magazine articles. “Pros” suggesting you take a small step toward order by purging and organizing just one drawer or cabinet.
Here’s why doing that is a complete and total waste of your time and energy, and will actually set you back in your quest for organized living:
1. You can’t make decisions in a vacuum. It is near impossible to decide whether or not to keep something without considering it in the context of your other belongings. For example, how can you decide to keep or trash this tube of toothpaste if you don’t know how many other tubes you have, what brand they are, and when they expire?
2. The efficient way to purge is not to decide what to trash but what to keep. If you started out with nothing and were moving into your first home, would you search worldwide for all of the trillions of items you didn’t want to buy? Of course not! You would search for the few items you did want. So “shop” in your own home for the things you want to keep and discard the rest. Again, this requires considering an entire category at once.
3. Making quick, uninformed decisions means your results might be inappropriate for your needs and lifestyle, and almost guarantees you’ll have to do the whole process over and over again. Sure, you might have a day or two to enjoy your orderly drawer, but you’ve done nothing to evaluate your actual needs so you’ll be right back where you started before you know it. Now, you’re frustrated and have lost faith in the value of purging and organizing. You’re worse off than you were before!
So what should you do instead to make progress toward order?
1. Identify a small category that is the least emotional to you. Begin with toiletries, for example, as opposed to clothing or memorabilia.
2. Choose a category and collect ALL of the items within it. Don’t forget to look all around your house, car, and office! You don’t want to leave anything out. Gather it all onto a large table or in a cleared area on the floor.
3. Sort everything into subcategories. For toiletries, for example, sort into piles of hair products, dental care items, makeup, etc.
4. Select from among these items, the few that you know are immediately useful. One subcategory at a time, “shop” for the few critical items you have no doubt you need.
5. Discard the rest. No second guessing! Just let it go.
6. Congrats! You have made thoughtful, strategic choices about your needs and priorities. Rest assured that THIS process has created positive, sustainable results.
Now, on to the next category … !