I’ll be one of the first to admit that I’m a pack rat. I come from a proud line of pack rats. Not quite hoarding-level, but that’s just one floor up from where I am.
My wife, talented woman that she is, has a lot of materials and tools that she uses to create things. Her crafting area in the house is well-organized. Still, though, our space isn’t endless, and some of the tools that she has have gotten buried, tucked away in a drawer or a box somewhere. They’re almost always in their proper place, but the boxes of things tend to “blend together” after a while.
The rediscovery process
Today, she was cleaning up one area, and found a good set of craft knife blades that she had forgotten about. The way she put it was neat: She was rediscovering the stuff that she already has.
There are probably areas of my stuff that I can do this, too: magazines, various electronics and computer cables and adapters, metal parts, office supplies, etc. Things that I had saved from the trash or the giveaway pile that I envisioned using someday. A bit like a throwback to the 1930s when people saved almost everything that could be possibly reused.
This rediscovery process can get expensive, though. If out of sight does indeed become out of mind, then you’ll end up paying twice, or more, for items that you only need to buy once. So, treasure-hunting in your own house is a bit like making lemonade out of a bunch of lemons.
Some suggestions for breaking the cycle
Here are a few ideas that we’ve tried with varying degrees of success, or will try:
- Catalog, high-tech. I got a number of CDs one time at a flea market, and eventually tried cataloging them with a smartphone app that read the bar codes from the CDs.
- Catalog, low-tech. Pencil and paper, man. I assembled as many of our printed instruction manuals as I could and put them in big 3″ binders with a handwritten index tucked in the front cover.
- Catalog, medium-tech. A quick internet search turned up a promising desktop app called Data Crow. It has out-of-the-box capability for cataloging several common kinds of collections, and the capability to be customized for just about any kind of collection.
- Display things better so that they don’t get out of sight (and out of mind).
- And there’s the tried and true suggestion of just saying good-bye to stuff that hasn’t been used in a while.
Do you catch yourself saying, “OOHHH! THAT’S where that was!” often? Or used to, and don’t anymore?