Wednesday, January 21, 2009

It's a Keeper!

Since we're just starting with cleaning and organizing, it's a good time to talk about what we are going to do with all that "stuff." These are rules that you should use anytime you are working on cleaning or organizing an area, so I'll refer to them often.

"Stuff" falls into only two categories:

1. Stuff I want to keep.

2. Stuff I don't want to keep.

See how easy that is?

You either want to keep it or you don't want to keep it. It's really that simple.

Today I'm going to deal with the stuff you want to keep. Or at least the stuff you think you want to keep. You may change your mind by the end of this post!!

Pick up every single item in the area where you are working and ask yourself "Is this something I want to keep or not?"

We keep things for a lot of reasons:

1. It is useful. If an item is useful AND you are using it, then it's easy to make the decision to keep it. If you aren't using it, ask yourself why? Can it be used in that area or another area? If you can't come up with a use for it, maybe it's not as useful as you really think it is.

2. It is valuable. Value is sort of a funn
y thing and means different things to different people. If you are keeping it solely because of the value, then that may not be a good enough reason. Remember, it only has real value if you are using it (useful value) or if you are willing to part with it (financial value.) Sometimes those things that we think have financial value aren't worth as much as we think they are. They may not even deserve a spot in our home.

Do I
need to say the words "Beanie Babies" to anyone at this point?

If it has useful value, then take advantage of that and actually use it.

If it has financial value but not useful value, you may want to investigate the real value of it and cash in on it. It really doesn't hold any financial value until you get the cash out of it.

3. You love the item. That's a great reason to keep an item - and reason enough to not even give it another thought. We all need items we love in our home and if you don't have some in each area, then you may want to think about why. You should be able to look around your home and see photos or other items that you love and make you happy. I prefer to love things that don't require dusting though, but the choice is yours.

4. It has sentimental value. Here's where it gets a little sticky. It is something that belonged to your Great Aunt Gertrude so you say it has emotional value. But does it also fall into the category of being something you love?

Is the sentimental value that you place on something a positive value or a negative value? After my mom died, most of her things were passed on to me. While they all reminded me of my mom, most of them were an emotional burden. I felt like I NEEDED to care for them because they were hers. They weren't things that I really loved or that had I had any emotional attachment to other than the fact that they had once belonged to her. Once I separated those feelings out and passed those items on to someone else, I can't tell you the weight that was lifted off my shoulders. And it hasn't altered my memories of my mom at all. There have been some things that I have kept, but I have kept them because they are pleasing to me, not just because they belonged to my mom.

I should also put in a quick word about things that we keep because we feel they are "keepsakes." They aren't really all that special to you if you are willing to shove them in a box and put them in a musty basement or a dusty attic. If they are truly keepsakes, then you will find a place to honor them in your home.

My personal rule is that we each have one large box of "keepsake" items that we store neatly. Most of those things are childhood or school treasures, so we don't really add to the box much anymore, but we go through it regularly to make sure that those things are still really keepsakes in our heart. At the very least, determine a set amount of storage space that you are willing to devote to those things and stick with it.

Sometimes there are things we would like to preserve or keep but the items take up so much room. Trophies, awards, and school papers all fall into this category. Take pictures of those items and put them in a photo album or even frame them (how great would a photo of all of your trophies artfully arranged look?!) and then ditch the space sucking physical item itself. Kid's art and school papers are definitely fun to look back on and it's hard to decide what to keep and what to get rid of, so scan them in to preserve them. You could even reduce several pieces of artwork onto one piece of paper and just display that. There's just no need to keep the physical items when they take up so much valuable space in your home.

See. I told you it was simple. In order to keep it, you have to use it, love it, and it has to hold some sort of value to you.

Next time I'll deal with the things we don't want to keep . Hopefully, that pile is a little larger after today.


Casii said...

Great post! What about the things you don't want to keep, but feel guilty for tossing or donating for odd reasons? That's my problem!

ChickenStamps said...

Okay, your last post was great. This one is brilliant. I've heard all that stuff before. Somehow the way your saying it combined with my desire to actually act on it is exactly what I've been looking for. You are just what I need, exactly when I need it. Thank you.

Mrs. Jelly Belly said...

I love the tip of photographing things and getting rid of the actual stuff. Great idea.

But what do you do with the clutter that is not useful in any way at all, but your husband refuses to get rid of. My husband is a huge packrat. Huge. Don't get me started on the condition of my garage which stores all of my late FIL's stuff. (He was also a packrat.)

Great post!