Decluttering and rearranging only form one side of the organization coin. The other side is consumption. For so many of my clients, the true root of their struggle with disorganization stems from the speed, quantity, and quality at which they purchase objects.
As straightforward as this concept may seem, it’s really hard, for me at least, to tell a client they’re buying too much. There is shame attached to shopping, especially for women – we often see it as a guilty pleasure and as financially irresponsible – and calling out a client’s shopping habits means acknowledging the negative aspects of what may be one of their favorite or most frequent activities. I have to walk a delicate balance of calling their attention to the cause of their ongoing disorganization, while at the same time ensuring that they understand that I’m not judging them.
And believe me, I’m not judging them. I love to shop, too, and I have plenty of complex and uncomfy feelings attached to the pastime!
If you, too, struggle with acquiring too much, too fast, check out Rosie Spinks’ article for The Guardian earlier this year: Marie Kondo tells us to ditch joyless items, but where are we sending them? Spinks reminds us that when we get rid of things we don’t use, it’s not just out of sight and out of mind – that stuff takes up space in the universe and it has to go somewhere.
What I don’t want you to take away from this article is that you shouldn’t get rid of things when they no longer serve you. You’ll never achieve a level of organization that’s satisfying for you if you keep a lot of stuff you don’t need out of guilt.
Rather, I want you to take away that there is a direct connection between what you buy and what you get rid of. The more you buy, the more often and more thoroughly you have to declutter. And the lower the quality of the pieces you purchase, the more you accelerate this process.
The great thing about buying fewer, higher quality things is that, as Spinks points out, they can be fixed. I definitely do this – most of my shoes have been re-heeled and/or re-soled multiple times, and I’ve just spent a month going back and forth with a designer to try to get a dress I love re-pleated. Yes, this does take some time, effort, and… wait for it… organization. But because I don’t have too many things and I love (most of) them, I’m more motivated to put in the work so that I can keep using and loving them.
So, buy less. Fix the things you love. And wear and use the absolute hell out of the stuff you love, because that’s the whole point of owning it!