The Cost of Getting Organized

Does one need things to be organized?

Photo: Windall Oksay/Flickr

Every now and then, I will fling my closet door open, look at the tangle of handbags and boxes full of papers on the top shelf, then close the door and immediately take to Amazon, filling a cart full of storage bins and shoe holders and containers. I’ve yet to buy a single under-the-bed storage box or one of those flapping, over-the-door shoe holders, but one day I will. I want to be more organized, but should it cost money?

Falling down the rabbit hole of various slideshows and shoppable lists of things to buy to organize all the things you’ve previously bought is a slippery slope. While I appreciate the utility of a functional spice rack that fits neatly into a small space or a set of stacking Tupperware that will ostensibly eliminate the avalanche of rinsed-out takeout containers in the cabinet, I don’t necessarily want to spend money to buy these things.

Can I force organization into my life if I simply buy my way into it? If I spend an hour at The Container Store and drop $200 on systems and units and wire baskets and containers, will I somehow be more organized. It’s easy to fall prey to this line of thinking, even though the listicles and the shopping galleries are exceedingly clear in their intentions: we are meant to buy stuff from those lists, in order to store the stuff we already have.

Minimalism is not the aim here — you will pry my stuff out of my cold, dead hands — but the kind of maximalism espoused by the personal organization industry seems silly. Half the issue of being “organized” is the kind of stuff you hold onto, anyway. Consider whether or not your college notebooks are of any use. Throw them away. Fill the space you created with neatly stacked rows of magazines or books or video games for the PS3 you bought on a whim. Maybe it’s possible to feign organization by just getting rid of the stuff that you already have.

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