How an Organizer Has Less

There are a lot of ways to have less. Buy less. Make less. Keep less. But, it's always easier said than done in our very capitalist, Keeping-Up-With-the-Jones' society. There's always pressure - from celebrities, media, friends, family, ourselves - to have the latest and greatest. And, after the last year we've all had, to make sure we never run out of the important things (remember all those empty shelves at the beginning of the pandemic?).

So, how does a person who makes a living on not only guiding people through the process of creating organized systems in their space, but also help them live with less do so herself? Of course, I can go on and on about one-in, one-out rules or the use of containers as a limit for how much of something I want to keep (side note: these are all super useful organizing strategies!), but instead I'm going to give you simple, easy, true examples of things I do at home to prevent more from entering or staying in my home.

I stopped using produce bags from the grocery store. I'm pretty sure every kitchen I've worked in has the inevitable bag of bags under the sink or in the pantry. It just sits there. It collects more. It grows in the night. To prevent that giant stash of unused plastic to take up space under my sink, I started using reusable fabric produce bags. I have handful that are either filled with produce in the fridge or empty inside the reusable grocery bags I take to the market. If they get dirty, I toss them in the laundry with the dishtowels before they go back in to the grocery bags. 

I use a grocery list. My kitchen isn't huge, and there isn't a pantry. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to have shelves full of cans and bags and a small store of my own ingredients available at all times. But, I just don't have the space for it. So, I make a list before every shopping trip. I cross reference it before I go to the store with what's already in the cabinets. For the most part, I stick to it, minus the occasional, "Oh, how did that Nutella fall into the basket?"

If something is supposed to leave the apartment, it sits in front of the door. A store return? Bagged up with the receipt, hanging on the door handle. A bag of donations? Sitting on top of my shoes. Electronics recycling? With my work bag. If it's not supposed to stick around, I'm going to put it in the most obvious place I can to get it out as soon as possible.

When the seasons change, I inspect. When it's cold enough to start wearing hats and gloves again, I pull them all out. I assess if they're still something I'd wear. I donate those that don't make the cut. When it's finally warm enough to wear shorts again, I try them all on (Booo!) to see if the zippers still zip all the way up. If they don't, they're added to the donation bag. 

Nothing sticks around longer than it should. Space is at a premium. Not because there are so many belongings to try and squish into this home. Rather, because I want the space to enjoy my time. My home. My space.

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