Wednesday, May 27, 2015

But I NEED it! (Part 2)

Photo: Tat via Morguefile
For our final week at this location, we'll take a look at some strategies for (perhaps) getting rid of those I-think-I'm-ready-but-I'm-not-sure items.

One of the best limbo strategies I've ever seen was on a now-defunct HGTV show called Mission: OrganizationI wish I could remember which professional organizer to credit, because the idea was genius. Here it is, step-by-step:
  1. Find a box, preferably one with a lid or one that can be closed completely (nothing showing).
  2. Put all of those "can't quite get rid of it" items inside (by category, if you wish).
  3. Close the box and put a sticky note on the top with today's date. 
  4. In an amount of time that you determine (I typically use 6 months), if you haven't opened the box, get rid of it without opening it.
There are two key factors here. First, keep in mind that the end purpose of this exercise is to get rid of things, so you need to choose the items that go into the box carefully (don't put your wedding photo, graduation tassel, or your grandmother's jewelry in the box). Second, you need to get rid of it without opening it. If everything going into the box is expendable (by your standards) and you haven't used it in 6 months (longer if you need more time and have a place to store it), do you really need it?

Photo: kconnors via Morguefile
So what about your wedding photo, graduation tassel and grandmother's jewelry? Are they
important enough or attractive enough to display? If not, or if you want to protect them, these kinds of things can go into a box of their own -- maybe even a pretty trunk or decorative container. While the boxes used for the first exercise should be expendable, the ones you use to preserve items of sentimental value should do just that -- preserve them. If you want those items to come out of the box in the same condition they were in when you put them there (not faded or crumbling with age), do a little research to see what kind of container will work best for the item(s) you're storing. Then, find a home for that container.

Another suggestion popular with professional organizers is to take a picture of the item, then get rid of the item itself. Much as I like the idea, I've never quite been able to do that, and I fear that I'd then be left with a pile of photos that needs to be appropriately stored. But, if you're someone who loves looking through photo books and remembering the stories they inspire, this approach may not only work well for you, but free up space as well.

A few summers ago, we went to an open house at the beach. The condo was beautifully decorated, and in one of the bedrooms, framed articles of baby clothing adorned two of the walls. It sounds kind of creepy when I write about here, but it looked really cool. Done well, this kind of repurposing can be a beautiful keepsake.

If this is all sounding too high maintenance, then here's a simpler strategy. Choose a medium-to-large container, preferably with a lid, and find it a home. Use it to collect all of the homeless items that you can't immediately recycle, repurpose or resell. Then, once a week (or month) or when the container is full, go through it and weed it out to make room for more stuff. If you make it a rule to never allow the container to overflow, you'll always be the boss of your stuff -- at least the stuff in that container.

It's been a fun three months writing about Organizing by STYLE. If you'd like to keep up with future posts, stop by the Organizing By STYLE blog, where next week, we'll tackle the E in STYLE: Easy Upkeep.

Meanwhile, here on The Porch Swing Chronicles, I'll continue the Saturday Specials (which run as an "Organizing Extra" on the Organizing By STYLE blog, but on Wednesdays, I'll return to other blog topics.

Whatever you do, do it with STYLE.

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