These days, we are all busy people. Many of us have lots going on in our lives and in our work, often with competing priorities. It’s inevitable that some of those priorities fall to the bottom of the list and rarely get any attention. If there are physical items involved, they end a junk drawer, a MaGoo closet, or a garage we don’t use for our car – a place where things go to die.
Why does this happen? In the organizing biz, it’s referred to as:
Delayed Decisions and Delayed Actions
So the simple response is; make a decision and take action. But it’s not that simple. We need to delve into the reasons for those delays in the first place. Today, we are going to address
The # 1 Reason for Not Knowing What to Keep and What to Get Rid Of
The good news is, with the exception of paperwork, there are no absolute rules. That means you get to decide. But of course it’s the decision you’re struggling with to begin with.
Most professional organizers will have you ask yourself questions about each item. The famous Kon Mari method, suggests you ask if this item bring you joy. That might work for clothing and knickknacks, but it doesn’t quite cut it when it comes to your paperwork and cleaning supplies. Also, asking these questions for every single item can be quite time consuming. So now do you speed up the process and get through a large backlog of items quickly?
1. Limit your choices
Set yourself some ground rules before you even begin to sort and purge.
- For clothing, you might decide to only keep items that currently fit, or that orange really isn’t your color and anything orange goes.
- Even with paperwork, there a limited number of things you must keep; vital documents such as birth certificates, proof of ownership of major assets, and 7 years of tax returns. For the rest, you might decide you only want to keep the last 6 months of your household bills and toss all those annual reports that you have never read.
- If you have a stack of unopened mail that you know are requests for donations, make a list of the charities you want to support. Open and deal with any of those requests and toss the rest.
Write down your self-imposed “rules”, so you don’t have to keep making them. You can change the rules any time you want, but for now, these are your guidelines. Go through your first pass and create your piles that best suite you:
- For Paper: Keep, Recycle, Shred, and Toss
- For other items: Keep, Donate, Sell, Give Away, and Toss
Always use a garbage bag for the Toss pile and get it out of the house as soon as possible.
2. Ask yourself questions about items in the keep pile.
After you’ve done your first pass there may still be things in the keep pile that are questionable. So now is the time to pull out the questions and evaluate those things on a more thorough basis.
Just in case
One of the top 10 reasons people say they keep this is “just in case”. If this is you, an important question to ask about any item is: What would be the worst thing to happen if I let go of this item? The essence of this question boils down to: Would it be difficult or expensive to get another one, or would I sincerely regret parting with it? Could I handle the consequences of having to replace it?
Here are some addition questions you might ask yourself. Choose the ones that resonate with you.
- Do I need it (for function or with paperwork, for legal purposes)? Does it make my life easier?
- Does this item bring me joy? e. Do I feel good when I see it or wear it?
- Does it fit? (my body, my space, my style, my needs)
- When was the last time I used this? How often do I use it?
- Is this a duplicate? How many other items do I have that serve the same purpose?
- Would I buy it again if it cost twice as much?
- Could I borrow it from someone if I needed it?
- Would I rather have this item or the space that it occupies in my home.
- Would I keep this if I moved?
- Would someone else enjoy it?
- If it’s broken, am I really going to get it fixed.
- Why do I have this?
- Can I access this information online?
- Can I or do I want to store it digitally?
For unfinished projects:
- Do I love this project and excitedly anticipate the time each day when I get to work on it?
3. Become very intentional about what is brought into your home or office.
Now that you have gone through the process, keep your rules handy and use them to help you. Again, you can change the rules over time if you need to, but having them handy will help to eliminate the indecision.
- Have a garbage bin and recycling box in your office. If you don’t have a shredder, have a box dedicated for those items and take them to an office supply store such as Staples. (They shred for $1/pound)
- Have a donation bin for items that you no longer have a use for. When it’s full, put it in the car and drop it off while you’re running errands. Or, have someone pick it up. Check our resource page a list of donation options.
I hope this helps you with your decision-making process. As always, we are here to help, so don’t hesitate to give us a call.