Dealing with DOOO (Differences of Organizing Opinions)

Dealing with DOOO (Differences of Organizing Opinions)

I moved in with my partner (and his kids) when he and I were in our mid-forties. I had lived by myself for years before I met him, and I had very specific ways of organizing my house. And of course he and his kids had their own systems of organization.

When we first started dating, I was dismayed to find that he stores his glasses upside down in his cabinets. I thought this was icky. I mean, when was the last time anyone cleaned those cabinet shelves? Were my lips touching years of grime every time I took a sip?

Because I’m Highly Organized Person (HOP), there’s a reason for nearly everything I do. Usually it has to do with cleanliness or efficiency, or both.

I wondered to myself, “What’s his reason for putting the glasses upside down?” I didn’t ask because I was new in the house and didn’t want to ruffle feathers.

But this upside-down glasses thing got me thinking. To me, the way someone organizes represents his values. And since we had a Difference of Organizing Opinion (DOOO), it seemed that we might have different values. If he put his glasses upside down, what other values did he have that didn’t align with mine??

Instead of venturing into this potential minefield, I casually commented to him before I move in that we seemed to have different preferences when it came to organizing our things. He agreed, and we decided to compromise: whoever did the chore could do it however he saw fit. If he emptied the dishwasher, he put the glasses away upside down. If I emptied the dishwasher, I put the glasses away right-side up.

(Yes, I did wipe down the cabinet shelves after making the deal!)

One of the byproducts of our deal was that I jumped at every opportunity to do a chore so I got to do it “my way.” He probably knew exactly what he was doing when he agreed to my proposal!

Well played, my dear, well played.

But why?

Whether you're an HOP, chronically disorganized, or somewhere in the middle, we each have our reasons for doing things the way we do.

I never did ask why he stored his glasses upside down, but it became obvious when I started helping out in the kitchen at his parents’ house. They stored their glasses upside down! Mystery solved.

Often, as in the case of the upside-down glasses, it’s part of the family culture. “This is how my mom did it, so this is how I do it.”

(Have you ever heard the story of why one woman cut the ends off a roast before putting it in the pan? Whether it’s true or not, it’s a good one!)

Other times it’s having different priorities or simply not caring enough to do it differently. (I admire people like this, because I can’t NOT care.)

Sometimes a person isn’t really happy with how her home is organized but is overwhelmed at the thought of changing it, doesn’t have the time to do it, or doesn’t want to ruffle feathers with the family. (That’s where hiring a professional organizer can help!)

In the end, as long as you can agree to disagree over your DOOO, it doesn’t matter how you or your partner or your family do things, as long as it works for you!

What do you and the people you share your space with have DOOO about? What solutions or compromises have you come up with to deal?