I am an organizer. I have always been an organizer. I have organized everything from stuff to events. I enjoy it, and I’m good at it.
Some of my friends aren’t that good at it. They want to be. They want to get a handle on the stuff bloating their closets and garages but have a difficult time teasing through each item and knowing what to do with it. Does this sound like your struggle?
Many have taken a run at the KonMari method by Marie Condo (The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up). Her approach has worked for thousands. Some play the game of threes. This where you take three items and place them on the table. One item goes into a “keep pile,” one goes into a “giveaway pile,” and the last article is to be thrown away. If you want to keep two items on the table, you have to sacrifice something else from your “keep pile.” This is an easy clearing out game for children, especially right before or after Christmas. It gives them the opportunity to take control of their clutter and donate their less desired items.
However, for adults, I have another a strategy I would like you to consider. It is taking a hard look at your fantasy-self vs. your real-self. It’s essentially the idea of being brutally honest with yourself. Look at who you wish you were vs. who you really are.
Let me give you an example. My daughter went through a period where she wanted to be a great letter writer. She bought all of the fancy paper, made her own envelopes, and acquired expensive calligraphy pens. She wrote beautiful letters to international pen pals. She relished her selection of stamps and personal wax seals. In six months she was done. She realized that her fantasy-self loved the romance of old-fashioned letter writing but her practical, real-self didn’t. It was time-consuming and laborious. To this day she still has a great appreciation for beautiful stationery. She donated her letter writing accouterments to a coworker who has taken up the interest in calligraphy. If she ever feels the urge to revisit that kind of letter writing she will buy one piece of stationary rather than a ream.
A friend went through a period where he wanted to be a bowler. He bought the shoes, the shirt and bowling ball. He even joined a bowling league. After a season, the bowling stuff sat in the garage for years. He hung on to it in case he ever wanted to get back into bowling. He finally parted with it when I convinced him he didn’t need those things to bowl. He could bowl anytime he wanted to. He could rent shoes and a ball. And if he really got back into it, he could always purchase another ball. The truth is he probably won’t. His fantasy-self wanted to be a great bowler, but his real-self wouldn’t make the time.
My ex-husband wanted to be a podcaster and bought all of the fancy equipment. He spent countless hours setting it up and tweaking things to get it just right. He did make a handful of podcasts, but in the end, it was too much to really get off the ground. His fantasy-self wanted to be a podcaster, but his real-self had other things to do.
If we are brutally honest with ourselves, we can employ this tactic to all of the cluttered areas of our lives. When shopping we can ask ourselves if this is a fantasy-self purchase or a real-self purchase. If it’s a fantasy-self impulse, you can look at it, admire it, appreciate it and let it go. You don’t have to own something to enjoy it. If you look at your “bucket list,” how many things are fantasy-self objectives and how many are real? My dad says in all seriousness he wants to bungee jump before he dies. It’s on his “bucket list.” He’s 76, has had four back surgeries and is in a wheelchair. I don’t think his real-self is going to let his fantasy-self jump off of a bridge.
How many things in your closet, shed or garage are fantasy-self items. If you get honest, how many are real-self things? Were the Jimmy Choo’s a fantasy-self purchase, and you haven’t worn them in years? Maybe you crack them out once a year for that special occasion? Consider reselling them. Does it make practical sense to take up the precious real estate in your closet for a pair of shoes you barely wear? What about the snowboard? How often do you hit the slopes? Once in the last three years? Sell it to someone who will use it. You can still rent one if you ever get around to snowboarding again.
What about digital apps. How many of us have apps that we thought are useful and cool but don’t actually use? Are you using the meditation, yoga, calorie counter or compass app you downloaded four months ago? If not, get rid of it. You can always download it again if you recommit to its use. I give myself the freedom to download whatever apps I want, but if I haven’t used them within two weeks, I delete them.
What about photographs? How many of us have taken dozens of pictures on vacation? We go back years later and quickly swipe past the 35 ocean views to get to the highlights. Pick your very favorites and delete the rest. No one else wants to see 35 pictures of your ocean view either. Fantasy-self might have fancied himself a travel photographer, but real-self just wants a handful of pictures to remember a few precious moments.
My fantasy-self really, really wants to be a gardener. I love gardens. I fantasize about growing my own vegetables and herbs. I want butterfly and bee gardens. I want to have fresh cut flowers all summer out of my own garden. I have poured over garden magazines and seed catalogs. I have pinned the heck out of garden plans on Pinterest. I’ve daydreamed of cute little garden sheds. But when I actually take a few moments to consider how much work and time it takes, I realize I need to chill my fantasy-self’s jets. How about I just do a few container gardens, something I can actually manage…by myself.
The objective is to be really honest with yourself. Consider it to be a launching pad for taking control of the “stuff” in your life. If you make some headway, keep going! Every time you make a purchase or want to take up a new hobby, ask yourself who is really speaking. Don’t let your fantasy self-sabotage your goal to have an organized home, garage or office. When it comes to your hard earned money, tell your fantasy-self to take a back seat, you’ve got it handled.