How much is too much? What is the “right” amount of something to have? As an organizer, these are questions I’m frequently asked, and the answer is different for every situation. It depends on three factors:
I recently found a stockpile of brand new socks that my husband, Jeff, had stored between two stacks of sweatshirts. I was horrified. And, when I opened his sock drawer to put them away properly, I was even more horrified. There were piles and piles of socks… So, I asked Jeff to explain. Here’s how our conversation went:
Me: What’s the deal with your socks? Why do you have piles shoved between your sweatshirts? Why did you buy a dozen new pairs of socks?
Jeff: They were on sale.
Me: So what? You clearly didn’t need socks.
Jeff: Why do you care how many pairs of socks I have?
Me: Because this isn’t reasonable. How many socks do you think you have?
Jeff: I’m not playing your sick game.
Me: Clients pay me to play this “sick” game.
Jeff: Don’t touch my socks.
After thinking about it for a minute, I did what any self-respecting professional organizer married almost 25 years would do… I ignored him and organized his sock drawer. I knew he would come around.
First, I took every pair of socks out of the drawer. Into the garbage went at least 20 pairs with holes in them. Another 10 pairs had patterns so loud or so ugly that I couldn’t let him wear them. Then, I sorted the remaining socks by color and pattern and folded them “file drawer style.” Jeff loves that he can see all of his socks now, and every pair fits in his drawer.
For the record, after the purge, Jeff still had 60 pairs of socks, and that is way too many for anyone who doesn’t change socks 5 times a day, and he doesn’t. Yet, he has a large sock drawer that can accommodate that number, so that is the “right” number of socks for him.
I was recently working with a client who claimed he didn’t have enough clothing storage. When I walked into his bedroom, clothes were piled on every surface, including on top of his large, six drawer dresser. When I opened the first three drawers, I found the culprit; three of the drawers were filled with socks.
Again, how much is too much? In this instance, having three drawers of socks was clearly too much. Unless this client thought that socks were the most important part of his wardrobe (he didn’t), then it made no sense to prioritize socks over the t-shirts, work out clothing, and bathing suits that were piled throughout the room.
Generally, people have less sentimental attachment to socks than other clothing (I haven’t met anyone yet who’s saving the socks worn the night they got engaged, for example). Purging three drawers of socks took less than 30 minutes, and we spent the rest of the session putting away clothing properly in the newly emptied drawers.
There are many organizing projects that are time consuming and require commitment, but organizing socks isn’t one of them. So, go ahead, start purging, and knock your socks off.