The Case for Clutter Part I
by Cary Farrell
July 22, 2019
The Case for Clutter
When working with my clients, I have them gather their most important treasures and their most often used items to place in prime real estate spots in their homes or offices. In order to determine the value and usefulness of the rest of the items, I ask my clients these questions: Do the items belong in this room? Are the items needed in another room? Can any of the items be recycled or donated? Do any of the items need to be trashed? Are the items memorabilia that you want to display or store away? As we sort through the remainder of their stuff, most clients begin to advocate with the same justifications, reasons, and excuses for keeping items.
The top four arguments I hear from clients for holding on to unnecessary items are:
I’ll keep it “just in case” I need it.
I could use it for something.
I am passionate about recycling and don’t want to throw it away.
Someone gave this to me.
September’s Organize Me Newsletter is the first in our four part series on addressing the reasons and excuses for holding on to unneeded and unwanted items.
Reason #1: I’ll keep it “just in case” I need it.
The problem with hanging on to the “just-in-case” I need it item is that you usually can’t find it when you do need it. It is easier to go to the store to get another one because you know where to find it there. If you do keep the item, you feel the responsibility to organize, containerize, and maintain it which almost always costs more than the item would cost to replace.
In my experience, most of the “just-in-case” items end up deteriorating or becoming so unusable that they no longer benefit anyone. For example, kids clothes that are kept “just in case” you have another child often become yellowed and out of style, making them difficult for anyone to use. It would be better to give the clothes away to a friend or to sell the clothes at a consignment shop and pocket the money to use for buying next season’s clothes.
Keeping an extra or a backup of a certain item is one thing, but if you are keeping 10 extra blankets, 4 or more sets of sheets for each bed, bits of string, too many plastic containers to count, bits of hardware you have no idea what it goes to, old appliances in case the new one breaks, every box that comes to your door... then those “just-in-case” items can fill a whole room of your home taking up valuable living space that is needed now!
Another major reason my clients keep stuff is “just-in-case” the kids will want it some day. Be sure that your intentions are to bless and not burden your children with those items you are keeping for them. Many parents want their kids to “want” what they have accumulated over the years but if the kids don’t want it then you are burdening them and not blessing them. If they are old enough to answer for themselves, ask them if they want you to keep old dishes, kitchen items, tools, wedding dresses, or furniture for them one day. Most kids want to choose their own items and don’t want their parent’s cast offs.
People feel wasteful if they have to go out and replace something that they gave away. However, they don’t ever take into consideration the wastefulness of the time, space, and containers it takes to maintain an item so that they can use or find it if they do need it one day. Instead of keeping things “just-in-case,” consider sharing them with someone who needs it NOW and trust that when and if you or your kids do need that item again, someone will share it with you.
Next month we will discuss the #2 Reason people give for holding on to an unnecessary item: Maybe I could use it for something.