This is Part Four of a Five-Part Series on Personal Styles of Organizing Space. So far we’ve covered: (1) Everything Out (2) Nothing Out (3) Right Angler

When Pack Rats put something somewhere, chances are good the item will stick around for years. Pack Rats are not necessarily slobs, however. Neither are they collectors in the sense that they buy and sell their valuables. They just have a need to save.

If you think you may be a Pack Rat, ask yourself the following questions:

– Do you save things because “they might come in handy someday”?

– Do you hesitate to throw something out because someone else might have a use for it?

– Do you keep clothes hoping they will come back in style?

– Is your home or office running out of storage space?

If this sounds like you, you might not realize that the value of things changes with time. Pack Rats tend to accumulate things year after year without being aware what they are doing or recognizing that what seemed essential to keep years ago – for whatever reason – may no longer have the same importance today. Or their stash of stuff might feel like a security blanket. They often feel guilty about letting things go.

As with the other organizational styles, the negative aspects of this style can be controlled so that Pack Rats experience more pleasure than pain from their collections. The best way to do this is to regularly evaluate what you’re saving and decide what possessions have value to you today. Ask yourself if you like what you have; if each item is conveniently placed or stored; and if it is easy to put things away.

If you’re a Pack Rat, getting organized can seem overwhelming. It takes a lot of energy and commitment to part with things that have resided with you for a lifetime. What you have to remind yourself of, though, are the eventual rewards of having more free space, fewer possessions to clean or keep track of, and the feeling of liberation that comes with the knowledge that you’re in control of your belongings and not the other way around.

And finally, remember that it’s important to be able to:

1. find, use and enjoy what you want to save

2. pass on or dispose of what has outlived its value or usefulness

3. teach your children how to evaluate what has meaning to them over the years

4. reserve space for new items in your life that serve a function or bring you pleasure


3 Responses to "Personal Style Series: (4) The Pack Rat"

  1. Martha Lawton

    March 13, 2008

    There’s one point you didn’t make.

    I, for one, am a packrat out of sheer poverty. It doesn’t matter that material things change in value over time. It’s that the value, no matter what time, will always be unaffordable later.

  2. sunny

    March 13, 2008

    Martha — Thanks for writing. I believe that if you have a defined need or use for what you save, that’s a good reason for keeping it. To me, Pack Rats save without determining why, and that’s how things pile up.

  3. Pingback: Personal Style Series: (5) The Total Slob | Sunny Schlenger - Best Selling Author and Organizer

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