Free Your Space: Oooooh, shiny things

Sale flyers arrived at my house this week advertising Back-to-School savings. As office supplies are integral to my job, sales like this catch my attention. Back-to-school shopping was also one of my daughter’s favorite activities of the year when she was little and, I must admit, it is also nostalgia and habit from those years that attract me to these ads. In staring at the brightly colored folders and markers that adorn the pages, it occurs to me that this common experience draws so many of us away from a possible beach day into air-conditioned department store splendor and, for many, rightly so. Parents of school-aged children can take advantage of these savings, get a break from the heat and simplify the end of summer chaos. Business people can restock supplies at a terrific savings.

However, after working in the organizing profession for many years, I believe I have discovered something else. Something different. An occurrence that is common but, as yet, unspecified. I have put a name to this recurring phenomena and it is Shiny Things (copyright - Annette Reyman) Syndrome. I threw in the copyright so that I could abbreviate the whole thing to S.T.A.R.S. Here is how you can know if you suffer from Shiny Things Syndrome a.k.a. if you’re seeing STARS.

Shiny Things Syndrome or STARS:

Characterized by:
Impulse actions/follow-through
DisorganizationCan sound like:
I love this, where can I use it?
It’s so much cheaper if we buy it in bulk.
This is a great price; I know I’ll find someone to give it to.
I have to have this even though it doesn’t fit just right/have nothing that matches it.
It’s so cute!
Do you know how much these used to cost? I can’t believe I found them at such a great price.Can lead to:
An excessively cluttered environment
Feelings of overwhelm
Goal derailment
Anxiety & depression

Not to be confused with:
Healthy, natural curiosity
Imaginative minds

As for myself, I wouldn’t say I actually have STARS, but must admit that I have had bouts of it from time to time. Here is one instance: Fabric book covers (referred to as book socks) became popular when my kids were in elementary and junior high schools. Up until then at our house, we simply made book-covers out of paper bags. I couldn’t see paying almost $4 to cover each book and I refused to buy them. Years later, with the kids in high school and college, I found them in a sale bin for .50 each! I was so excited I bought a dozen. I brought them home so proud of my thrifty prowess only to hear that the kids no longer wanted or needed to cover their books. The book socks went into a supply drawer and got donated (unused) years later. STARS. It got me.

Noticing things that are not in our plans or on our lists can merely be a sign of a healthy awareness of the world that surrounds us and can often lead to new ideas, solutions, growth and change. In other words, it can be a good thing.

It is when we allow ourselves to get derailed from our goals and distracted from our priorities that seeing STARS becomes a problem. Do you see STARS? What do yours look or sound like?

* Annette Reyman is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO®) and President of its Greater Philadelphia Chapter. To contact her for organizing work, professional unpacking, productivity support, gift certificates or speaking engagements call 610-213-9559 or email her at Visit her websites at and Follow All Right Organizing on Facebook and Pinterest.



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