What does it mean to know your real needs and priorities? Do you recognize what makes you feel satisfied and comfortable? Or do you mostly only notice when things feel pinched, either in your closets or in your life?
Not knowing the answers to these questions can lead to much stress and chaos, and this month I’d like to explore the concept of measuring.
As I was thinking about the topic originally it seemed like people have lost touch with the idea of enough.
The first work of getting organized is to know when you have enough and second, how to store it so you can actually find and use it, whatever “it” happens to be. Too often the first part is skipped over in favor of measuring space and how to fill it. Getting pretty boxes is a lot more fun than measuring your real need for all those greeting cards or jeans or useful car parts.
If you focus on the limitations of your storage areas and closets it is easy to keep the focus outside, and avoid looking at what you have chosen to keep in them. In the same way, if you are convinced that you have no time, you’ll probably skip actually questioning what you are doing with the real time you have. It’s important to measure your space and your time, but in order to make lasting changes, the real measuring starts with your self.
In order to design a kitchen or a calendar that works for you, those questions up at the start of this article must be faced. For example:
- What appliances do you really use on a regular basis, and must they be out on the counter?
- If the pantry is so full you never use what is in the back, but keep buying more tomato sauce, how would it feel to have less in it? Scary? Really?
- Are the tasks you never find time for an effort to be perfect and how hard would it be to let go of that impossible goal?
These questions are ways to measure your own values and perhaps unrecognized agendas.
Another aspect of awareness related to enough is acquisition. If you’re swimming in stuff, and know that there is really no more room to store it, what is going to change? There are two sides to this problem.
The first is letting go of the excess, and the second is facing why you acquire. They are very different activities. Some people are ready to relinquish, but only in order to get more. Others have seen that they must make space, and re-filling it is not an option. Either way, they have measured themselves for a particular result.
I also work with people who have no intention of letting things go, but want the closets to somehow magically get larger. In this case they need to focus on the acquisition part, and realize that this behavior either changes or things get worse. Measuring closets will not matter if they do not measure why they need to keep what they have, and also have even more stuff.
Is it even a question of enough? At first I thought so, but what I see are people who really don’t know what that means, to the point where only the walls of their house tell them. (And sometimes it has to be the property line.)
Would it not be better to have a sense of when you are content? It’s a fascinating thing.
And it happens with time management, as well. Do you really need to acquire commitments, meetings, classes, chores, appointments, all without real understanding of when your week becomes a nightmare of obligation? This requires self-measurement, too.
In both these arenas, stuff and time, the “reasons” may have to do with external obligations, but I think the real key is internal. Acquiring can be satisfying, distracting, and rewarding. It can also be addicting. As with any habit or perceived need, only you can decide when a cost has become so great that the behavior must change.
My comfort and ability to relax are really important to me. My sense of being at home in my space is crucial to my well-being. By knowing my values it’s easier to say no to another appointment, the cost will be just too great. But you can be sure that sometimes I do choose to pay it! If I allow myself to buy one more pair of boots, there will be no room on the closet floor and something will have to be donated. Period.
Measuring your space and your self is one way to find out what enough really is. Your “enough” may look very different from mine, but the experience should be a feeling of satisfaction and contentment with your stuff, your time and your self.