Keep Only What You Use – rule #3


Those of you who read my first book might remember that I have 10 Absolutes of Organizing These are rules that organized people follow in all aspects of their life.

My third absolute is perhaps the motto of minimalists. Why keep something if it is of no use to you? Think about that for a minute. Especially if you are moving, why would you box something up, move it, and unpack it if you don’t USE it? Or, you’re in the midst of organizing and yet you want to hang on to something you haven’t seen or used in years for SOME reason. It may be guilt or wishful thinking or unrealistic expectations.

Here are some reasons I’ve heard from people for keeping something that they never use:

  • my mother(best friend, sister…) gave it to me
  • it’s worth a lot of money
  • some people collect these
  • I could turn that into a ___________
  • And the ever popular: I might need it someday

To which I say, “really?” Are you really going to do something with this item we found at the bottom of a box in your basement? Or if it is so valuable, why has it been hidden for so long? And if you’re only holding on to it because of who gave it to you, ask yourself the next question, “Do you like it?” or “Does it give you pleasure to look at it? If you answer yes to either of those then okay, keep it but put it somewhere so you can enjoy it. That might be a display shelf or a memory box.

I really don’t force clients to throw anything out, I just ask the right questions so they can take a realistic look at what they keep and what they toss.

When all is said and done, after you sort through a particular closet or room, you want to be left with those belongings that you use, you love and you want. Everything else can be donated, given to someone who really wants it, or recycled.

To each of the reasons above, I say:

  • Don’t worry about the person who gave it to you. They have had the pleasure of giving and have most likely forgotten about it by now.
  • If something is worth a lot of money and you got your use out of it, so what? Pass it along if another can use it. A $300 dress from the 80’s is really not worth $300 today.
  • For collectibles, check into what the real value is today. Believe me the antiques market is not what it used to be even 20 years ago.
  • If you want to turn something useless into something else, make a plan to do that in the next 2 weeks – or let it go!
  • And if you think you might use it someday, think again. If you let it go and “someday” comes, will you be able to find that and afford it? If yes, then let it go. (think of the theme from Frozen and sing it to yourself as you do it!)