When Multiples Make Sense

How many corkscrews is too many? Learn when multiples make sense.

When Multiples Make Sense

More often than not, when I meet with a new client during our initial organizing session they are worried I’m going to make them get rid of all their stuff. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. There have, in fact, been times I have said to clients “you’re getting rid of a lot of shoes/books/clothes. Are you sure you don’t want to keep some?”

Usually the client is shocked, as if in their mind they are thinking “wait aren’t I supposed to be getting rid of things?!”

I have to check with them because I have found some people give away in excess because they think that’s what I want from them, or that is what they are supposed to do. It’s not, and that mentality can actually be very harmful to a session or the overall progress made.

I’ve found that when a client has gotten rid of something and then they realize a week later they need it, that they didn’t really want to get rid of it. I’ve then asked: “Did you really want to donate that item? Or did you think that’s what I wanted you to do?” They then reply, “I wanted to impress you.” Or “I thought that’s what you wanted.” It never is.

My motto is: if you use it and you love it, then you can keep it.

If you follow me, you’ve probably heard me refer to “nine corkscrews” in many of my posts and videos. Here’s why: early on in my career as a professional organizer I was working on a crew for another organizer. We were unpacking a beautiful, large home in Palo Alto and I was placed in the kitchen with another organizer. I was unpacking the bar drawer and found nine corkscrews. I was in shock – did they really need NINE? I didn’t think so but it got me to thinking. How many corkscrews are appropriate for a household? How many corkscrews do I own?

Well I have two that I really like using (same style as a bartender or wait staff would use). Why two? Well, I had one that I packed before a big move, and then still needed a corkscrew and so bought a second one. If one goes missing I still have a version of the one I like. Then I have one that has a CO2 cartridge and helps pop the cork up and out. I don’t use that one often (it needs new cartridges) but it’s a hit at parties and was super helpful when my arthritis flared up. I have an ah-so corkscrew for large format bottles or if a cork breaks, so this is a definite must-have. When I worked for a wine company doing in-home wine tastings, I had a branded corkscrew that I used. I didn’t like so much but it had a built-in foil cutter, which was super handy.

My five corkscrews and why I've kept them all.
If you’re counting we are up to five. Yup, five corkscrews for one person.

So maybe nine wasn’t so far off for this family? Certainly the wife may have her favorite corkscrew and the husband may have his? Likely they were gifted some, or some may have come with picnic sets. Regardless, if they loved and used all nine, had the space to store them, and always knew where they were, then why should any of us judge how many they should keep?

For the record, I do think that nine is too many, but I also think you can justify having more than just one or two (same with peelers or can openers). So now you know the story of the nine corkscrews and why I reference it so much.

It got me to thinking… when does it make sense to have multiples when one will do just fine?

I travel a lot, and like many of you – despite being very organized – I have left things behind in hotel rooms or friends’ houses: phone chargers, reusable water bottles, clip-on reading lights, etc. I’ve then had to replace them – which is not a big deal – but I thought in these instances it made sense to have multiples.

Yes, I have 5 different iphone charging cables - because I've left so many behind.
For example: I have a phone charger plugged in by my nightstand, one permanently plugged into my car, a spare in my work bag, and another one in my travel items. That’s four chargers when one would do just fine. For me it’s about convenience, and not having to worry if I accidentally leave one behind.

My eye pillow collection - ok I could probably let one of these go!
Another example:

I’m a light sleeper so I am armed with earplugs, an eye mask and a white noise machine. I keep these in or by my nightstand and use them nightly. When I travel – which is often – I could certainly bring the supply I have. But what if I accidentally forgot one of those things when I came home? Sure I could survive a night or two without them but having multiples of these items works for me. Why? Because I have the room to store them, and because I’m realistic about how many multiples I have. I keep a spare eye pillow and earplugs in my travel kit, and even invested in a travel-size white noise machine (not my favorite as it requires a lot of charging; and yet another cord to keep track of). I keep these with my suitcases in my travel section so I always know where they are. So to me, having these multiples makes sense.

I can't sleep without my white noise machine - it's so soothing.

Ok one last example:

I was heading to Los Angeles to work with clients and forgot to bring my label maker, which I really needed. I ordered one on Amazon and even got a handy carrying case to contain the label maker and the extra tape, and it came the next day (btw if you’re an organizer, the case is worth it!). I now have two label makers – do I really need two? Maybe not. But again, I am human and I absolutely have forgotten my label maker at a client’s house before (see I really am just like you). Instead of having to go back and get it right away, I know I have second one and could go on with my work day and not stress or rush back to retrieve the missing item, or worse, look like an unprepared organizer by showing up to the next session without a label maker.

Brother P-touch, PTD210, Easy-to-Use Label Maker; image courtesy of Amazon

The moral of this blog: it’s ok to have multiples if: you use them, you have room for them, and it makes sense to your lifestyle.

What are some items you have multiples of?

Do you feel better knowing that a highly organized person has and uses multiples?

Were you afraid if you worked with an organizer they’d make you get rid of multiples? Honestly most organizers won’t – so give us a chance if you need help downsizing. We’ll give it to you straight – at least I always do.

Lauren Mang
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