In my nearly 16 years as a Professional Organizer, I have heard two statements uttered in almost every client session: “I was looking for that!” and “I’d forgotten I had that!”
A quick search of my blog reveals that I wrote about “I was looking for that” in this post. The bottom line: when you come across something that you had previously been unable to find, relocate that item to the place where you were originally looking. In your mind, that is the “home” for this item.
So let’s talk about “I’d forgotten I had that!” Even for organized people, it’s impossible to remember everything you own. You are most likely to forget about owning something if it hasn’t been used in a long time and it has gotten pushed to the back of a closet or cabinet, or buried in the bottom of a drawer.
When clients say, “I’d forgotten I had that!”, I ask, “Did you miss it? Are you glad to see it?” If they are excited about using this newly-discovered item, then we relocate it to a more visible and convenient place.
In some instances, the reason why they haven’t seen that item in a while is because they got a newer one and just never got rid of the old one. If they are happy with the new one, we dispose of the forgotten item (donate, recycle, or trash). If they aren’t happy with the new one, we consider swapping it out for the older item, which probably needs a good dusting after months or years of neglect.
In other instances, the item was purchased on impulse but never used because it was not really a good fit for the person’s lifestyle. Or it was an unloved gift. In both cases, I recommend that the item be donated.
How can you prevent forgetting about things you own? One way is to be sure to rotate your items. For example, when I put away my laundry, I put my clean items on the bottom of the pile or in the back of the drawer. This ensures that everything gets used and nothing gets lost.
Another way is to regularly revisit what’s in your closets, cabinets and drawers. If you notice things getting crowded on a particular shelf, take a few minutes to take everything out and see what’s hiding back there. When you get something new, instead of shoving it in, rearrange what’s there and eliminate what is unused.