Organization tips to keep a collection from becoming clutter
Submitted by A.J. Miller of Miller Organizing
A collection is just what the name implies – similar objects collected from various places at various times. The objects don't necessarily have to be of great value, they only need to have significance to you.
A collection may start off innocently enough, but often people find themselves obsessed with owning as many of the objects as they can. Inevitably, over the years, well-meaning friends and relatives help add to the collection with birthday and holiday gifts. Unfortunately, often thus begins the slippery slope from collection to clutter.
Collecting can be a fun pastime or a very serious endeavor. The trick is for you to control your collection, not the other way around. Here are some tips to help keep a collection manageable while still holding on to what you love.
- Location, location, location. Objects need to be well-displayed and bear some relationship to one another in order to be shown to their best advantage and fully appreciated as a collection.
- Think first. Before you begin a collection, seriously think about whether you have the space to properly display it or if it will ultimately end up on a shelf in a closet taking up space.
- Determine when your collection gets too big. When it gets so crowded that people make a game out of counting just how many items you have in your collection, you probably have too many.
- Learn to say “No.” If it gets out of hand, you need to firmly but gently tell well-meaning contributors to your collection you are no longer adding to it. You might want to suggest to them that you now prefer to receive clutter-free gifts, such as museum memberships, consumable gifts or course enrollment gifts. You could also request a donation to the charity of your choice.
- Play favorites. Not having enough room to display all of the items in your collection is also a wake-up call that it is too big. Stop adding to it. Keep your favorites and consider selling, donating or giving the rest away.
- Less is more. If you already have a big collection and can’t bear to part with any of it, put some away. If you find yourself walking past what were once prized treasures that now go all but unnoticed, freshen things up by exchanging some or all of what's out for what's been put away. It will also spruce up your space, and visitors might think you redecorated.
Miller is a residential and small business organizing expert, a popular motivational speaker and writer based in New York. She founded her company, Miller Organizing, in 2005. She is a past member of the board of directors of the New York chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), the recognized authority in the field of organizing. Over the course of her career, she has helped hundreds of busy New Yorkers to get – and stay – organized. She writes a column on getting organized, clutter control, time management, living more simply, increasing productivity, how being organized reduces stress and other related topics for a local New York newspaper. She also runs the Clutter Support Group of the New York Public Library.
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