Stuff will never make you organized | Wise Bread


Stuff will never make you organized

by Philip Brewer on 15 June 2009 
There's a store near where I live that sells stuff for organizing your other stuff--racks, boxes, cabinets, and shelves for tools and toys, sweaters and shoes, spices and CDs. 

They've got a perfect container for anything. 

But there's only one right time to buy any of that stuff: When the stuff you want to store in it is already organized.

At least, that's my experience--both with my own stuff and with stuff that belongs to people I know.

If I've got two tidy row of shoes on the floor of my closet, and buy a shelf that lets me store those rows one over the other, that works fine: I install the rack, move half the shoes, and I'm done.

If, on the other hand, I've got shoes scattered all over the house--some near the door, some in the bedroom, one pair in my gym bag, the pair I just took off next to the chair where I sat to put on the ones I'm wearing now--then buying that shelf will do me no good at all.

I've seen it happen so many times that I'm prepared to call it a general rule. 
If you've got all your receipts neatly organized in a shoebox, then it may well make sense to buy a handsome wooden receipt box. 
But if your receipts are scattered among drawers, tucked into envelopes, folders, and purses, and stacked up with unfiled bank statements, then buying a handsome box will do you no good at all. 
In fact, it's worse than no good at all: next time you need to gather your receipts you'll have to look in all those old places and your box as well.
Understand this, and you come out ahead two ways. 
1. - For one thing, there's some money to be saved here, by not wasting money on "storage solutions" for stuff that's not already organized. But that's not the big win.

2. - The big win from internalizing the rule is that it improves your organization.

Here's the key: Before buying a "storage solution," organize the stuff you're buying it for.

At this point, you're doubly ahead of the game: Your stuff is already organized and you haven't spent any money. 
If you still want to buy the storage solution, go ahead (at least now that you know exactly what's going to go into it, you know exactly what you need). My own experience, though, is that most of the time it turns out to be entirely satisfactory to use a file, folder, shelf, box, or drawer that I've already got.

There's much to be said for handsome boxes, shelves, cabinets, and racks.
Don't hesitate to improve the tools you're already using to keep your stuff organized. Just don't imagine that buying new stuff will help you become organized. The only thing that organizes your old stuff is organizing your old stuff. If you haven't already done that, any new stuff you buy is just more stuff to organize.

Stuff will never make you organized | Wise Bread