Life Is Too Short For Crummy Pens (The Question of Duplicates)

If you’re reading this article, you probably have clutter.

Let’s be honest, every person has at least a little clutter. You certainly have stuff, as we all need at least some stuff – food, clothes, furniture, books, etc. – to survive.  And when we have stuff, stuff can build up and become clutter.

Clutter is anything we don’t need, use or love. (Barbara Hemphill)

A powerful questions, as asked by a FB friend just today, is “Duplicates: how much is enough, and how many is too many? ”  This friend was asking about her sons’ clothes, but the question can be asked about pretty much ANYTHING.  TShirts, socks, cars, hammers, mugs, pens.

We need pens.  But with just 2 hands, we only need one pen at a time.  And it had better be a good pen. Few things frustrate me more than reaching for a pen and coming away with a broken/dried-up/wrong color pen.  Life is just too short for crummy pens.

I talk about Duplicates in my Clear the Clutter classes.  I mention Mug Math:
  • Ask (# of coffee drinkers  x  # of cups per day) x # of days we take to run the dishwasher.
  •  So, in my house, that would be (1 x 2) x 2 = 4.
  • Now, that’s a need.  We NEED 4 coffee mugs.  OF course we have more than 4 coffee mugs. Because sometimes we have company, or use the mugs for ice cream because mugs have handles, or I shake things up and have tea, too.
  • So, I NEED 4.  But I don’t need 40.  There will never be 40 people drinking coffee in my house at once.  When I have more than 40 people over, we’re usually drinking beer, wine or soda, which conveniently come in their own containers.
And the Kid T-shirt question?  We asked
  • The child wears # of shirts a day x how often you do laundry (2 shirts a day x 7 days)
  • So, for the child, we NEED 14 shirts. And since we like options, we keep more than 14 t-shirts. But not 40 or even 30.  Now may be a good time to re-choose or re-shop the favorite 20 or 25, and let the rest go.But I digress.  I hope you see my point.  We need the find the happy medium for our items – enough mugs or socks or pens that our needs and wants are met, but not so many of something that it falls out of the cabinet or clutters our dresser drawers or drives us crazy.
There are some items we need in duplicate: 
  • Every room needs a garbage can, box of tissue and surge protector.
  • Most rooms need apair of scissors, some band-aids and some pens, too.
  • Charging cords – at least a couple.  Definitely one at home and one at work.
  • House keys – We always need extra house keys.
  • A class participant last week pointed out that we should have a hammer on each level of our homes – in the bedrooms, in the kitchen and in the basement, plus one in the garage – so she doesn’t have to run up and down the stairs all the time.  Fair enough.
  • And there are others.  So, some items we need in duplicate, but certainly not everything.
So, how can you figure out how much is  enough and how much is too much?  Ask yourself some questions:
  • What is the relative cost of the item?  Having duplicates of things like scissors, garbage cans or pens doesn’t cost too much, and definitely saves time and hassle.
  • How often do you need to use that type of item?  Have extras of those things you use ALL THE TIME.
  • Are there convenient alternatives?  For example, scissors have a very specific function that few other items can perform.  Anything can be a book mark, not anything can cut a piece of paper cleanly in half.
  • Perhaps we just need duplicate accessories?   For example, I only need one bullet blender, but I may have multipe cups for multiple smoothies.  We
  • When we need an item, how quickly do we need it?  For example, we buy extra socks. Because when we need to leave the house, missing socks really slow us down.  So it is worth it to have extras, just to make our departures easier.  Not everything requires such immediacy, though.
So, how much is enough?  How much is too many?  That depends on who is asking, and what you’re asking about.  But these are great questions to ask as we get organized and purge our clutter!
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