When I check out of my local grocery store, the clerk asks, "Did you find everything?" Frequently, I reply (and I'm sure the clerks hear this often): "I did. More than I came for!" I have to admit that I have become a big fan of online shopping, and one of the primary reasons is that I find what I am looking for and check out. However, it's much harder to stop when I find what I'm looking for if I go into the store.

One of the principles of a "productive environment" is "You can have anything you want, but not everything.” Shopping is a great example! Shopping online makes it easier to eliminate the temptation of buying more than you were shopping for -- unless, of course, you get caught by the tagline, "People who bought this often buy..."

However, one of the new challenges created by online shopping is what to do with all the boxes! I keep some of them in the garage, but I often don't have the size I need when I go there to get a box. I collapse the ones I don't keep, and Alfred hauls them off to the dump along with the rest of the garbage -- a task he says "Keeps me grounded!" (The challenge of getting the product you purchased out of the packaging is a topic for another email!)

My early days as a residential organizer, the stories from colleagues in the years since, and the TV programs such as "Hoarders" reveal what I call "the evil of the big box stores." This week a friend told me about going to the home of an elderly couple who had a basement full of expired canned goods but were struggling to pay their rent.

I've always been troubled by this shopping phenomenon, but my awareness has increased in recent months. I have made friends with a family in rural India. They struggle to find even basic necessities. Because of the Covid lockdown, there is little I can do now to give them what they need.

So, here's a challenge for you to consider in the future: Before you purchase anything, ask yourself, "Is this purchase going to help me accomplish my work or enjoy my life?" If you're not sure, postpone the purchase until you are confident it will!

Author's Bio: 

In 1978, Barbara took out a $7 ad in a New York City newspaper to advertise her professional organizer business. For 20 years, she focused her business on organizing paper and physical clutter for home offices and organizations. Then the Internet Age came about, and she utilized her principles and expertise to help clients with digital clutter.

Over the past 40+ years Barbara has helped 1000's of companies, and became an icon and top expert in the industry. She has been featured on national media platforms such as Good Morning America, The Today Show and CNN Nightly News. She has also been showcased in publications including USA Today, New York Times, Fast Company, Reader’s Digest, Real Simple and Guideposts.

Barbara and her team teach business owners a 9-step system to go from overwhelmed to optimized. Step 1 is a free Assessment that can be found at www.ProductiveEnvironmentScore.com.