How would you describe your dream home?
“It has color-coded closets, file-folded drawers, a plastic-bin-bedecked pantry, and a minimalist shelving game.”
“It is beautiful and simple. It feels like an oasis of calm, like a sanctuary.”
Right… Let’s dive into the counterproductive trends keeping your dream home at bay.
1 / Organizing “Product”
When I was a small child, the best part of school was my dreamy multi-compartment pencil case. The romance of neatly compartmentalized “stuff” is intoxicating, and can have serious drawbacks: Organizing product is expensive. And not just in the conventional sense.
Have you considered how long it takes to measure all the spaces that need “product”? And how much time it’ll take to match those measurements to “product” at the store? If they don’t have enough of the kind you need in stock: Do you wait for stock to come in, or do you start the search over? Account for the opportunity cost (what you could have done instead) of your time and money!
Be honest: is inviting a ton of plastic into our home, to say nothing of our planet, worth it?
DO THIS INSTEAD
Use what you already have (it’s “free!”) creatively so you can finish your project faster and get back to living.
If you’re motivated by a uniform look, wrap mismatched boxes with inexpensive contact paper.
You could also intentionally save containers from things you routinely buy. They’re also “free,” match, and get upcycled – win-win-win! I save paper tomato pints for drawer organization.@REVEAL.METHOD
Plus, when you get “product,” you’ll be rewarded with peeling all those annoying labels, only to… wait for it…
2 / Custom Vinyl Labels
Yeah… re-label them. I love pretty too. Custom labels will give your eyes that nice, deep exhale. But they also cost money. And here’s the real rub: In my own and my clients’ experiences labeling only works when it’s adaptive.
You might think you need six snack bins when you organize your pantry… Then the kids’ preferences change like the weather and now you’re suddenly co-opting a Snack bin for Dinner items… and before you know it, your pretty labels are tripping you up and you’re back to organized chaos.
Here’s where it gets tricky. Humans are susceptible to what is known as “Escalation of Commitment,” or “Sunk-Cost Fallacy.” We tend to persevere down a doomed course of action because it aligns with prior decisions. That is, those annoying store labels were peeled off, expensive new labels were bought, then carefully applied, and now everything finally matches – even if it’s not serving you. [SOURCE]
To work – to be adaptive – labels need to be easy: Inexpensive to implement both financially and time-wise.
DO THIS INSTEAD
Use plain white labels or tape and the nearest sharpie!
Your handwriting is part of your personal, unique signature. Even if you think it’s messy, when you put together a collection of matching labels, they harmonize.
The magic isn’t in the pretty font, it’s in the unifying effect of “it all looks the same.”@REVEAL.METHOD
On first pass, you might think that the organizing trends bandwagon is headed toward No More Mess city. Think again. These aren’t just trends and harmless hacks, they angle at something much bigger and more complex: habits.
3 / Unnatural Folding Techniques
You and I know just how hard it can be to form a new habit – like eating well to improve a health condition, exercising to feel better, or parenting our phones.
“Changing a habit requires changing what’s happening in your brain. Initially, it will involve shifting your awareness so that the frontal lobe is in charge of your behavior, which is why it takes the deliberate practice of new thoughts and behaviors to break out of your default patterns. Repetitively and consistently thinking and behaving differently alters your brain’s pathways and patterns — and habits — through a process known as neuroplasticity.” [Source]The Best Brain Possible with Debbie Hampton
I marvel at how counterproductive a lot of the organizing advice can be when we consider how the human brain actually works.
DO THIS INSTEAD
Test your natural folding technique next time you do the laundry. Roll with it – no judging! Then, put your stuff away. (The back of your bedroom chair still isn’t a natural hanger!)
Pay close attention and see if there’s a quirk in your storage system “begging” for a new folding technique. You’re more likely to adopt a new habit when it makes a broken or frustrating routine meaningfully better.@REVEAL.METHOD
4 / Restrictive “Systems”
The goal of getting organized is to have a home that serves you on your terms.
If your Capsule Wardrobe is giving you hunger pains, or if you experience low-level anxiety when you walk by your closet and notice that the red shirts aren’t all hanging out together… Trust me when I say you deserve so much more from an adventure in organizing! A scarcity mentality is not the way to freedom.
DO THIS INSTEAD
Welcome the path of least resistance when creating a system of any kind.
Yes, I said that: take the easy – and more importantly, sustainable – way onward! That is the only way to find lasting equilibrium.@REVEAL.METHOD
Less can be more only if you’re not denying your true identity, authentic desires, and unique gifts. No ready-made formulas and rules here!
A successful system is well-thought out, but crucially, it’s tested in action and adapts to the course things actually take, not the one we wish they’d take (hello, family members who don’t cooperate – but that’s a topic for another post!).
The verdict on organizing trends
Only you know what can work best for you. Evaluate your options from a strengths-based posture! If color-coding is your thing, then honor it. If it’s not, pining after a Pinterest closet will only dampen your experience of your own space and stuff!
It costs you precious attention and time to pursue bright shiny trends everyone else seems to love, but that leave you bent backwards trying to stay on top of. Stick around, and I’ll show you the better way.
– PS: If you liked this post, I’d appreciate it if you’d share it with friends! Join my mailing list so you can get new ones and newsletter-only content!
– PPS: I believe that our light can get hidden under the bushel basket of guilt and shame – the feeling that we’re all alone in our personal plights. This is the chief reason I add science to my posts and method. If we better understand our human condition, we’re more likely to be kinder to ourselves and change our situation.
Further reading from today’s post: