Out with the old, in with the new … Really?

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January 2016

I like change; and, for the most part, I look forward to it. I also like “before” and “after” pictures. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to see how much better a space looks after clearing out the clutter. For this reason I love greeting a new year because it gives me an opportunity to re-evaluate. However, when it comes to organizing, “Out with the old, in with the new,” does not apply

A while back I worked with a client who hired me to organize her home. Our first project was her walk-in closet. The closet was packed with clothing and accessories she used, no longer used, as well as with all sorts of items that didn’t belong there. Together we spent a total of eight hours emptying, sorting, and re-hanging clothing. By the end of the session my client was very excited. All the clothes were hanging nicely or put away neatly. She could walk in easily and find what she needed. When I returned two weeks later to work on another part of her house, she enthusiastically showed me her closet. When I saw it I was speechless. While it was still neat, the closet was full again. Once I recovered, I asked my client what had happened.  She very innocently said that she thought that an empty closet meant it was supposed to be filled up again, so she went shopping. It was time for a heart-to-heart talk.

We talked about how the closet had made her feel before we organized it. She recalled the stress and frustration she felt every day when she had to get dressed. She was unable to find clothing to wear to work. She would pile the clothes on her bed, or elsewhere in her bedroom, because she couldn’t find a place to hang them in the evening. We discussed the return on the investment she made when she hired me. Going out and buying new clothes negated her investment. I also encouraged her to practice the “One in, one out” whenever she goes shopping. For every new item she brings into the house, an old one must go out.

Although we continued to work together for a few more sessions, I don’t know if she changed her shopping habits. If we were to work together again, I would suggest an even better saying, which is my favorite … “Less is more.”

Happy New Year!