I'm always reading and learning more about organization, whether it's new tips and tricks or the psychology behind clutter. Regardless of the subject, sometimes I come across a gem that I must share. I read this two days ago, and I can't stop thinking about it. It's simple and completely accurate. I definitely identify with several of these laws, and I bet many of you will feel the same. I'll reproduce it here in its entirety. Anything I add will be minimal and in brackets. (See below for the source.)
Basic Laws of Stuff
Law 1: Stuff breeds. The more you have, the more you need.
Well, okay, if you leave two objects in a dark corner, they don't actually reproduce, but sometimes it sure seems that way. Let's suppose you buy a new computer system. This basic system consists of a keyboard, a mouse, the CPU, and a monitor. Oh, and of course there are all those manuals and cables. And let's not forget a printer. Oh, and extra printer cartridges. You should probably have an external hard drive to back up your files. Of course you'lll need new software and maybe an Internet router so you can go wireless. Plus there are various gadgets and cleaning solutions to keep your computer in tip-top shape. And so on, and so on.
Lots of things operate like this. Consider the food processor and all the special attachments, racks, and caddies that go with it, not to mention cookbooks, DVDs, and whatever else you need to get the most out of your appliance.
Maybe you're thinking about starting a collection of some kind. All those collector plates need hangers, or holders, or shelves. Those baseball cards need albums or boxes to keep them in. The cute little porcelain figurines need a display case or even a piece of furniture. Even the stuff used to store other stuff, such as Tupperware, just begs for something to hold all those lids when you're not using them!
Law 2: The useless stuff crowds out the good stuff.
The more you have that's useless, obsolete, broken, or just plain junk, the harder it is to find (and find places for) the stuff you really value and use often. Finding the good stuff takes twice as much time and raises your blood pressure in the process. The more you have in your life that's extraneous and without purpose, the less time and energy you have for the good stuff.
[I see this a lot in closets, including my own. When the clothes you really love and enjoy are crowded out by things that don't fit and other stuff you simply don't like, the junk crowds out the good stuff. It's more difficult to find what you're looking for and to enjoy getting dressed!]
Law 3: Dust love stuff. Bugs love stuff. Rodents love stuff. Moisture loves stuff.
When you store something unused for long periods of time, odds are that when you finally need it (if you ever do), it'll be useless or damaged anyway.
[And the more you have, the more you have to clean.]
Law 4: Stuff loves to stay where it lands.
It takes time and energy to put things away. That's why the coat or sweater that's flung over the chair tends to stay there forever. Inertia is working against you. If you don't put it away, it takes more energy the longer it stays there.
[YES! YES! YES! And then it gets buried under more and more stuff. Clutter is delayed decision-making. Decide where it goes and put it there. Don't put it down, put it away! ]
Law 5: Stuff expands to fill the space available.
The bigger the house and the more storage space it has, the more stuff tends to accumulate.
Law 6: Over time, stuff becomes invisible.
Ever notice how after you put something on a bulletin board or the fridge, in a few days you can no longer see it? Things fade into the background through familiarity. I call this the Disappearing Stuff Phenomenon. After that scrap of paper hangs in plain view for a while, it can be completely visible, but you still won't see it.
[This is something I've never before considered, but it's completely true.]
Law 7: Stuff costs you money more than once.
Don't fool yourself that the only cost of an object is its purchase price. First you pay to buy the item. Then you have to get it home. This may involve driving your car, taking public transportation, or incurring shipping charges. Next you have to store it which may mean buying a container or a shelf to put it on. If it's valuable, you may need a security system, not to mention paying additional insurance premiums. If you move to another house (which will probably be bigger, because you need more storage), you need to pay to move it.
And if all this isn't enough, your stuff continues to cost even beyond the grave, when you saddle your family with the unpleasant task of getting rid of it after you die. Think about the real cost of stuff next time you rush out to grab that "bargain."
Law 8: Stuff has a powerful effect on your state of mind.
Clutter can be oppressive and depressing. If the possessions we depend on every day are in need of repair, that can add to our feelings of depression and failure. Stuff can weigh us down. We feel burdened by it and what we have to do to get and keep it.
[I've had several clients whose anxiety peaks noticeably when they enter a cluttered space in their home. There is no doubt that your environment affects your health and mind.]
Law 9: Stuff takes on value only when it is used.
Unused stuff is just junk or clutter. How often you use it gives it increased value. Less use, less value. Stuff that may seem not to have any utilitarian value can add beauty to your life, and therefore is being "used" by your senses and your soul. These aesthetic additions to your environment should be chosen with great care, to give you enjoyment every time you look at them. If you don't love it or use it, lose it!
Law 10: Stuff doesn't make you happy, you do.
I think this law speaks for itself. You know the drill: money can't buy happiness. Well, it's the same with stuff. Both are just tools to help you achieve your own happiness.
Try spending an entire week without bringing any more stuff into your life. Call a moratorium on shopping, and use what you already have as much as possible. During this time, review the Basic Laws of Stuff and see whether you don't become more aware of how stuff gets into your life.
- Source: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Organizing Your Life. Fifth Edition. By Georgene Lockwood.
What do you think? Do any of these laws speak to you? Comment below and let me know. Until then....
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I'm Jen, a professional organizer ready to help you take charge of your space, free up your time, and lead a more organized life! (Read more about me here)