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Why We Keep Stuff, from Ask the Experts' Elizabeth Tawney Gross

“I might need it someday”

???????????????????????????????????????????????“I can’t let that go, I might need it someday.” I hear this from clients all the time. As I look around their houses, there are heaps of things they think they might need someday.

The perceived need to hold onto something for someday is used by many people to avoid making a final decision about an object. If I can say I am keeping because I intend to use it, then I can justify having it.

The question I ask my clients is: “When did you use it last?” Often they say that it was a long time ago. If you haven’t used it in the past, what is the chance you will use it in the future? Let the item go. If you really need it in the future, you can get another one.

Jars and jars of random nuts, bolts, screws and nails seem to be the favorite “I might need it” item for men. When I ask how often they have actually found what they needed, most guys tell me it’s easier to run to the hardware store than dump out all the jars and search for something. Chances are you’ll need more than one screw anyway and waste a lot of time trying to find a match.

Buy what you need, then keep the leftovers organized so you can find them. Labeled zipper bags will hold most sizes of hardware and can be stored in a shoe box. Don’t keep the parts you didn’t use when you installed something.

Once the blinds are hung you probably won’t be moving them, so don’t keep the hardware for the other option. By the time you might need it you’ll be buying new blinds anyway.

I have often found several of the same type of item. Clients use the new coffee maker but hold on to the old one just in case the new breaks. The next oldest is also kept in case both of them break. I always ask clients which model they prefer. Most will say they like the newest one because it has features they like. If that’s true, when the current one breaks, they will most likely buy one like it to replace it rather than going back to the older one. Keeping old, outdated items “in case” doesn’t make your life better. It robs you of space you could be using for more important things.

Make your life better, don’t waste your irreplaceable time and space to an item you “might need someday.”

Copyright© 2014 Elizabeth Tawney Gross, Organizing For Everyday, LLC

About Elizabeth Tawney Gross

Ask the Experts panelist Elizabeth Tawney Gross is the owner of Organizing for Everyday and a certified professional organizer in chronic disorganization. Send her a question at Elizabeth@org4everyday.com. Find out more about her at org4everyday.com.

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