How Much Is Too Much?


Most of us acknowledge that we have too much “stuff” but how much is too much? How do we pin down that number?

I am a strong believer that “less is more” but I am not a minimalist.

I love coffee. I need a coffee cup or mug. My husband likes coffee. He needs a coffee cup. Sometimes we have coffee cups that are dirty and in the dishwasher. I have friends that visit, sometimes in groups, that like tea or coffee. So now I figure I am up to 8 – 10 cups. Some days I prefer the cup from Paris. Some days only the really big mug will do. My friends have favorite cups. I have about 25 mugs are cups. Yeah, that is too many. I figure I could get it down to 15 the next time I work in my kitchen zone.

The thing is, I have room for the 25 so there is no real pressure. But still, I will feel better if I let some go.

How many pens do I need? I use a black one daily and I like to have a red one and a blue one at times. I like a pen by my bed and a couple in the living room (for crossword puzzles). I like a pen in the kitchen for grocery lists and to label food for the freezer. I have a couple in my briefcase and one in my purse. I like to use a Sharpie fine point pen gut sometimes I need a ballpoint. I certainly want a few backups because they do eventually fail. So what does that add up to? I also know I have a container of pens in my desk drawer and I often dig through the lot to find one I like. So why are the others even there?

Still, there is room for all of them in the container so no real pressure. But when I clean out my office zone, I know quite a few of those will go.

It seems like most areas of my home have some abundance – clothes, shoes, linens, books, etc. I am good about applying the “container rule.” If I have a designated container for items and the items easily fit into that container and the container has a good home, I’m good.

But a little more breathing space would be a good thing. So this year, as I go through each of my zones, I will ask myself, “How much is too much?” as I make my sorts and purge.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

The Minimalists

The keynote speakers at our NAPO conference were the Minimalists. (http://www.theminimalists.com/) I had been looking forward to their presentation and I was not disappointed.

They told their life stories and the lessons they learned. Both men had great six-figure jobs, nice cars, big houses, all the latest electronics, and lots of stuff. It dawned on them that they were really caught up in gathering stuff and status. They were actually spending more than they were making. And they were not happy or contented. In fact, they felt stress, anxiety, loneliness, fear, and worry over growing debt. What was worse was that they didn’t have control of their time and thus didn’t control their own lives.

So in 2010 they took back control using the principles of minimalism to focus on what was important to each of them.

They reminded us that minimalists don’t focus on having less, rather they focus on making room for more: more time, more passion, more experiences, more growth, and more contentment. Clearing out clutter made that room.

A few bites from their talk that I loved were:

  • You can’t change the people around you, but you can change the people around you.
  • Love people and use things – it doesn’t work well the other way around.
  • Feel comfortable getting rid of anything that is under $20 and less than 20 minutes away.

The final take away was that getting started is as simple as asking ourselves one question: how might your life be better if you owned fewer material possessions?

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer