As a professional organizer, I’ve seen it all. So, when I say, shopping can – and in far too many cases does – lead to disorganization, I know what I’m talking about.
The theory is pretty simple: the more you shop, the more you own. The more you own, the less space you have. The less space you have, the more likely you are to become disorganized simply because you’ve run out of room.
One way to control this “shop ‘til you drop” behavior is to recognize why you shop. Following are a few examples of how and why people shop and a few suggestions how to curb the urge:
Impulse shopping: We all do it. Myself included. We see something in a store or online and have got to have it…right now! It’s not a matter of need or want, but rather the feeling of instant gratification. Force yourself to walk away (literally and figuratively) and wait 30 days before making the purchase. If, in 30 days, you’re still thinking about the item, buy it, but my bet is the urge will be gone.
The thrill of the deal: You go to the store in search of a white, boat-neck T-shirt in a size small, but come home with an armful of V neck T-shirts in a variety of colors and sizes, none of which fit and most in colors you don’t even like. Your reasoning is that the deal was too good to pass up. Deals like this typically get tossed in the recesses of your closet, never to be seen again. The next time you go to the mall, pretend you’re grocery shopping; make a list and stick to it.
Pretend Friends: Many older women, especially those who have lost a loved one, feel isolated and crave companionship. Sadly, that “companionship” might very well come in the form of a telemarketer hawking stainless steel Japanese knives. But more often than not, the companionship they crave comes to life when the packages are actually delivered – sometimes more than once a day – by a real live person. Before hitting the button to complete the sale, wait 30 days and while you’re at it, get out of the house and have lunch with a friend.
Thrifting: Strangely enough, there is no such word as “thrifting.” Shopping in thrift stores, yes, but “thrifting,” nope! No such word. If you have a purchase card from Goodwill – one of those cards where you get a small discount after making ten purchases – you know you’re in trouble. I have a friend who “thrifts” every weekend and loves to fill her cart to the max only to turn around and put most of the items back on the shelves. She then posts her “finds” unsocial media, the majority of which she left behind in the store.
Bragging rights: People are obsessed with designer logos. Unfortunately, when the bills come due, those designers are nowhere to be found and you end up having to pay to wear someone else’s initials. And although I strongly believe it’s better to buy one good handbag versus ten “cheap” ones, that rule applies only if you can afford to buy the bag. Remember, what you own does not define who you are.
Boredom: What else is there to do on a rainy day in Florida besides shop? My suggestion is to stay home and shop in your own closet. You’ll be amazed what you might find. Shopping can lead to disorganization.
Mindfulness: A year ago, while sorting through my own closet, I realized every item I was getting rid of had been purchased, on sale, and at the exact same store. I realized something else, which I probably knew from the start, and that was that the items I had purchased had no “place” in my wardrobe in the first place. The solution is I no longer shop for sale items in this particular store.
Need versus desires: I challenge you to start the new year off on the right foot and to stop shopping for three months! No, I’m not joking. During this period of “shopping withdrawal,” try keeping track every time you think you “need” something. If, after three months, you’ve marked the same item two or more times, then you know you need it. Shopping can lead to disorganization.