May 2013 Newsletter

Tip of the Month: Rules of thumb for decluttering


Here’s a question I recently got via email: “I’m de-cluttering again. I never finished the original de-cluttering. What rules do you follow for throwing things out?”

The person who asked said my reply was helpful, so I thought I’d share it with you:

I don’t use the rule that goes: “If you haven’t used it in 6 months” or “1 year” or whatever, then toss it. I’d go more along these lines:

1. As Peter Walsh says: Imagine the life you want to live (within any absolute constraints of health, money, etc.). Then ask yourself: Does this thing, whatever it is, contribute to that life?

2. The old William Morris quote is also good: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” Many people add “or incredibly sentimental” — which is good, as long as “sentimental stuff” isn’t such a huge category that it causes a problem.

3. For people with small spaces, I’ll often ask: Is this good/special enough to earn a place in your home? Do you have room for something that’s just OK, or that you “sort of like”?

4. And then there are categories of things we don’t need to keep: gifts we don’t really like, broken things we’ll never get around to fixing, books we thought we “should” read but don’t really want to read, outdated reference materials (or reference materials we’d never pull out, because we’d just look it up on the Internet), etc.

And something I didn’t say in my response, but which I should note: “Throwing things out” is usually my last choice: many things can be easily donated, freecycled, recycled, etc. That’s good for the environment; it also often helps often helps us to let something go if we know it will go to a good new home — or at least not go to landfill.

Organizing Quote of the Month

The phrase “I might use it one day” most often means “useless junk.” jaimystery, on Ask MetaFilter

Organizing Product of the Month

I couldn’t resist sharing this — The PQTier from Presse Citron — even though I have yet to see a vendor in the U.S. The PQTier comes in white, gray and black, and I found it being sold by PointWC (which also sells the colored paper), Sit On Design, Pure Deco, Mooviin, and Acaza.