This week, we’re wrapping up our series on improving your everyday life with Parkinson’s Law!
So far, we’ve looked at this important idea in its original format: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
And we’ve looked at a twist in relation to your money: “Your lifestyle expenses increase so as to use up the income available.”
Today, we’ll tackle one more twist on Parkinson’s Law as it relates to getting organized: “Your stuff expands so as to use up the space available.”
Yeah, this one is so true!
When I moved out of my tiny graduate school apartment, I loaded up all of my belongings into my little sedan. Seven years later, it was a whole different story! When my husband and I moved from our townhouse rental into our current home, it took a medium-sized U-Haul and a truck with movers to wrangle the big stuff.
Our stuff had expanded.
So how can you keep your belongings from multiplying like Tribbles? Growing into piles, seeping into tidy areas, and taking over your home?
Be ruthless about what comes in (and what stays).
The best way to avoid increasing quantities of stuff? Stop it in its tracks before it even gets in your door.
Take care of your mail the moment you grab it, or it’ll park itself in your home and multiply!
Skip buying clothes, decor, toys, books, knick-knacks, and more unless it’s something you can justify to yourself. You can even create your own pre-purchase checklist like this:
- Do I really need it?
- Do I have a plan for how to store it?
- Am I willing to put in the time, money, and effort to maintain it?
- Is this a planned purchase (or an impulse buy)?
Make staying organized a brainless task.
Most of the time, you don’t want to have to stop what you’re doing and really think about what to do with that piece of paper in your hand, that magazine, that set of scissors, or whatever.
What you want to be able to do is put that thing away on autopilot. To make it so easy to stay organized that the effort required to drop that item where you stand is pretty much the same as the effort it would take to actually put the thing away.
The way to make that happen? Take the time to set up organization systems . . . and to give everything you have a home.
Got kids? Set up toy storage systems, show your kids where everything goes, and enjoy having even a 1-year-old tidy up after himself without difficulty.
Got paper? Create an intuitive filing system, an easy and accessible center for your family mail, and family rules for what papers you keep and what gets tossed.
Got an overstuffed closet? Get some expert tips on getting your dresser and closet space in ship-shape form!
Make clutter prevention a regular part of your routine.
No matter how vigilant you are, some stuff will get inevitably get by you. And waiting until it transforms from a few pieces of clutter into a mountain of mystery items will make you crazy.
So set aside some time on a regular basis for maintaining your organization systems.
- Go through your clothes once or twice a year to see what’s too worn, too big/small, or too unwanted to bother keeping it.
- Sift through your kid’s toys every few months to check for safety, test the functionality, and assess whether it’s time to rotate some of them in or out.
- Leaf through your filing system annually to get rid of papers that have aged out of usefulness or that you’re no longer required to hang on to for tax purposes.
By nipping the clutter contagion in the bud, you’ll set yourself up to corral your stuff and win the battle with Parkinson’s Law!
What’s your best tip for keeping clutter at bay?