Friday, May 18, 2012

De-cluttering and the parable of the duplicate employees

A certain CEO was visiting his employees and chatting with them and happened to ask three of them what they did. 
The first employee, Alex, said, “I am in charge of creating our sales campaigns.”
“Good, you are very important to our business,” said the CEO.  He then turned to the second employee, Bob.
“What do you do?”
“I do nothing.  But I create our sales campaigns in case Alex is gone, ” said Bob.
“Hmm,” said the CEO, his eyebrows narrowing a bit.  He turned to the third employee, Casper.  “What do you do?”
“I do nothing too.  But I create our sales campaigns in case Bob and Alex are both gone,” said Casper, cheerily.
Hmmmm,” said the CEO.  He turned back to Alex. 
“How often are you gone, Alex?” he asked.
“I have perfect attendance!” said Alex proudly.

What should the CEO do?  Should he keep Bob and Casper "just in case" or should he do some downsizing? 

If we think of duplicate things that we have "just in case" as if they were duplicate employees, it seems like a no-brainer to let them go, especially if our favorite is tried and true and always there.

Now, I know there are people who advocate having duplicates of small cheap things like scissors or reading glasses or tape just in case one gets misplaced or broken.   Sure, the smaller and cheaper the object, the less it seems to matter, but if so, it makes me wonder to myself, where is the line that separates the cheap and duplicable from the things that I consider expensive enough that I will put effort into not losing it?  Is it $3?  Or $5?  Or $20?  

When I got interested in rollerblading, I was able to find a second-hand pair of rollerblades.  All I had to do was replace the wheels that were worn down.  When I replaced the wheels, I considered keeping the old ones around "just in case the new ones had a problem," but I realized after a day or so that the new wheels were so much better than the old ones, that there was no way I'd want to reuse the old ones in any circumstance!   So I got rid of those old wheels.

How about you?  What items do you have duplicates of and why?  Was there something you decided to cut down to just one of?  Why?  Please share your reasons, since others will benefit from it.

Do you need extra help with organizing and de-cluttering? Hire me! Go to for more information about my services! Did this article help you? Be sure to share it with your friends!

1 comment:

Rozy Lass said...

I have LOTS of duplicates in my kitchen because I prepare three meals each day and do dishes once each day. I like having clean utensils available rather than searching through the dirty and then having to wash something. I have several pairs of scissors in specific places around the house so they are where I need them, when I need them. I don't have a lot of "just in case" duplicates anymore. How I decide to have duplicates is measured by the level of frustration I experience when having to search for something I need.