While many people are acquainted with the traditional meanings of the words: strangers, enemies and friends; these words can also be applied to an organizational strategy. In the book ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life, Judith Kohlberg and Kathleen Nadeau, PhD., walk the reader through various organizational tips that have broad scale application as the focus of the book is to help people who have difficulty organizing things.
Strangers, enemies and friends are the names of three piles people can create whenever they are sorting a group of similar items.
Suppose I were to organize one of my dresser drawers. First I would collect the contents of a drawer. Secondly I would place each item into a group based on how I feel about that item. Strangers are clothes that I can't remember wearing. Enemies could be clothes that my well intentioned in-laws bought for me, or things that fit before I lost weight.
Friends are the clothes you like. These are the clothes that boost your self-image and enhance your self-esteem, in other words these are the clothes you don't want to live without.
It may seem that your wardrobe options are increased if you have more things to choose from however having to bypass strangers and enemies wastes your time and limits the number of friends you can have.
Owning clothing that you like is efficient. This will simplify the getting dressed project leaving you with more time. You may even want to pare your wardrobe down so it contains simple neutral items that go with almost everything. For example; I wear a lot of black so if I have a drawer of black socks I can reach in, grab any pair and not worry whether they will match what I'm wearing.
In the previous example I used clothing as a medium to apply this strategy however I also use this to categorize people. If you decide to categorize the people in your life relationship experts suggest asking yourself how you feel after you're done spending time with them. If you feel good that person is probably your friend. If you don't feel good maybe that person needs to be moved out of the friend category.
While the book uses the terms: strangers, acquaintances and friends, I've found that substituting the word enemies for the term acquaintances helps people understand that they might be their own worst enemy when it comes to hanging onto possessions that handicap their ability to find things they are looking for.
Strangers, enemies and friends may be a technique you want to pass along to others. Remember, everyone should make their own decisions about what they want to keep. If someone needs parameters set them up beforehand and make sure the rules are clear to the sorter. Strangers, enemies and friends may be easier for some than for others. People who own thirty sweaters may not be able to part with twenty-five of them.
While this process is infinitely repeatable the goal is to help people identify what they really need on a daily basis.
Clothing is a basic necessity as is food. Neither of these things are bad in and of themselves however if your food routinely goes to waste or your clean clothing no longer fits in the space you have it may be time to rethink your lifestyle.
Overall I like strangers, enemies, and friends as a strategy because it is simple, easy, and effective. For as long as my children can remember we have used this method to help them make decisions about their possessions. Things they want to keep go in one pile, everything else goes into 'The Get Rid Of Pile'. Our 'Get Rid of Pile' contains clean, well preserved items that have utility. These we donate to charity or pass along to someone else who can use them.
This method can help people save money although recognize that it may be hard for people to think about how much money they have invested on items that don't fit into the space they have. Next time you go shopping think critically about your purchase. Is it an item that has long term utility or is it an impulse buy destined to hang in the back of your closet? Don't be too hard on yourself after you buy something you really don't need. Be ruthless when determining the quality of friends you decide belong in your life.