Today, I am working with Sally. Overwhelmed with the stuff in her home and frustrated to not be able to find what she was looking for when she needed it, Sally called about a month ago to get started on her organizing project. Her objective is to be more comfortable in her home. She wants to be able to have friends and family over without stressing for days and weeks ahead of time. But, Sally is also busy at work. Her kids are grown and she is a manager working at a local bank.
A large part of organizing is sorting possessions and making decisions. Sally’s project is no different. We decide to start working in Sally’s bedroom to give her a comfortable place to retreat. Grouping and cleaning up the clothes begins well and we are making good progress but then it becomes clear that with the closet and dressers already full, clothes in the wash and more clothes strewn around the room there are just too many. We haven’t addressed the clothes that are being stored in other rooms. We have come to our first decision point.
Sally has some obvious constraints: the size of her home and her existing storage space are clear limiters. However, with her busy job her time for managing all her clothes is also a limiting factor. After discussing the situation, Sally agrees that fewer clothes would be easier to manage. She could have just what she enjoys wearing and what looks great on her available. We first sort the clothes by type; creating large piles on her bed. We create rules around what she would like to keep and part with. Starting with pants, Sally decides to keep five of each: pants, jeans, shorts and capris. But we soon run into a problem.
Sally has two responses that slow down our project. First, “I may want to wear that some day.” And second, “That pair of jeans is worth a lot.” When working alone, these responses can stop a project in its tracks. Sally had agreed that she only needed five of each kind of pants but soon her piles are bursting. One way to combat this problem is to pick favorites. Instead of asking Sally what she wants to part with, I ask her which five jeans are her favorite. The project is moving along again until we come across response two. She has specialty designer jeans that she paid a lot for.
But, Sally has only worn those jeans once. They didn’t quite fit right and they were in style two years ago. They really don’t fit into her wardrobe now. Sally is only seeing the price tag. She regrets her original splurge but feels guilty letting go of those jeans now. She has several options. Sally could donate the jeans and take the tax write off. This would be the easiest option and there are plenty of great organizations that appreciate gently used clothing like this. Option two would be to sell them herself using craigslist.com or eBay, this would be the most involved option and if the jeans don’t sell she’ll still need to find a new home for them. Option three is to use a consignment shop, she will not recoup the original cost but she would receive something for them. If the jeans do not sell, the consignment shop will donate them. Sally decides to set a pile of her nicer clothes aside for consignment.
With the money that Sally earns from consignment, Sally decides to pay for a day’s worth of sailing lessons. Her latest purchase will not bring any new items into her home, she will gain memories and experience and de-stress from her busy job. Sally and I are able to complete the clothes sorting in one organizing session and her bedroom is well on it’s way to the beautiful retreat she desires.