March 10, 2017

Clutter Spotlight #5: Two Bowls

This town ain’t big enough for two bowls.

Okay, that’s a little melodramatic, but that’s what it can feel like when you realize you have two nice items in a category where one is all you will ever use.

Ted had two bowls that were actually of the same design, both from Ikea — never mind that one is decorated with a flagstone design and the other is plain white. They stacked perfectly, so it was easy to overlook the fact that there were two of them. But there were two. Ted had bought them with the best of intentions — in the As Is room, to boot — but realized he had bought one too many. He used them only on occasion, a few times a year. He had never used both at the same time and probably never could, so one of them must be extra.

Let’s apply the Value Card section of the Spotlight Scorecard. With two bowls, each one has a low likelihood of use. When they are used, the benefit is pretty nice — they serve food, which is important, and they are easy to clean, also important. They are medium-sized serving bowls, so they fall somewhere near the middle of the size scale. The cost to replace is perhaps a little below the middle of the scale.

It might not look like a compelling case for keeping an item, but getting rid of one and keeping the other makes the value equation twice as good. It doubles the likelihood of use for the one that remains. That’s the answer in this case. One of the bowls has to go.

You might face the psychological effect of cognitive dissonance in deciding which item to keep when there is hardly anything to distinguish one from the other. How does it make sense to keep one thing and throw away another that is just like it? Of course, the economic case is sound, as just described, but the psychological stress applies to the decision of which one to keep. Luckily, in this case, the decision was obvious. If you look closely at the bowl on the left, it is chipped in one spot. That was the one to throw away.

No comments: