Are You Keeping Items for Some “Just-in-Case” Day?
Andover resident Nancy Patsios runs a move management and organizing business.
It’s a fairly common refrain, and one that I and countless professional organizers hear quite often. It ranks right up there with ‘I don’t know where to begin.’ The latter is typically proclaimed at the outset of any decluttering or home organizing project. The need-it-someday phrase is uttered somewhere along the way when a long-forgotten item is unearthed from its years-old hiding place and magically becomes buried treasure that must now be kept, you know, just in case.
The Someday Pile
The someday pile contains all sorts of things from kitchen gadgets to formal wear. The reasons to hold on to these items, or rather the justifications, are plentiful.
The item is in perfectly good condition.
That is probably true if it has not seen the light of day or ventured outside the original box and packaging.
The item was a gift.
Although it is not your taste or style (why else are you not using it) letting go causes a guilt trip.
The item can be repurposed.
Maybe so, although to date, that hasn’t happened.
I’ll need it as soon as I get rid of it and will have to buy a new one.
That’s an assumption not a foregone conclusion.
The Future of the Someday Thing
Holding on to the might-need-it-someday thing can feel like you have control of a situation and that you can eliminate the worry of not having it at a future event. Worry not control, however, is the stronghold here and prevents you from truly moving forward with a logical decision. The worry of not having the someday item wraps itself around feelings of regret, loss, failure, or shame — past or future.
But it’s a tradeoff.
What feelings are you willing to live with now — stress, frustration, perhaps anger — to protect the worry of an imaginary future event? Are these feelings aligning with your goals of being free of physical clutter and its companion, mental clutter?
Think about a time when you controlled a future event from your front seat present view. When you peered into your crystal ball, what did you see?
There are other reasons that people hold on to belongings, not because they may in fact be useful someday, but due to environmental concerns for one. Many people rightly so, do not want to throw things mindlessly or irresponsibly into the trash, adding to the world’s landfill woes. They simply don’t know what else to do with these items. Rest assured, there are lots of options to distribute the goods. If something is in good, working condition, it can be donated to a charity, offered for sale, or given away by other means.
The original cost of an item is also a sticking point because it becomes frozen in time. It may not matter that the object of your newfound attachment has not been used in who knows how long, and that the current cost or market value is wildly different from the original. The initial cost automatically transports you back in time and you have only that price as a reference.
Both scenarios prevent you from moving forward with logical decisions, not to mention keep you rooted in the past.
I Might Need It Someday Questions
While there is no magic in making decisions about what to keep or not, there are practical, reasonable questions to ask.
Is keeping the item based on a want or a need?
This will take an honest evaluation. A want and a need are two distinctly separate things. A want does not automatically qualify as a bad thing, it just needs to be identified as such.
What circumstance might develop where the item would be used?
Consider sincerely your current lifestyle. This is not the time for a made-up scenario to justify keeping it.
What is the likelihood or probability of that circumstance happening?
Are you sensing the pattern here of making an honest assessment of the situation?
What happens when the circumstance arises, and you don’t have the item?
How can the situation be resolved? Can the object be borrowed or rented, or can a substitute be used? Or perhaps is it something that can be purchased inexpensively and easily if truly needed? Apply the 20-20-20 rule as a guide: Can it be obtained for $20, in 20 minutes or within 20 miles?
What is the worst thing that will happen if you don’t have this thing when the circumstance arises?
You just might find that you are completely comfortable coming up with a satisfying alternative.
Perhaps more importantly, what will you gain by letting the item go?
It may go without saying that you gain physical space; add to that, freedom, confidence, and peace of mind. How much is that worth to you?
Will there be an occasion where you parted with something only to truly need it again? Perhaps, although the odds are against it. You may feel a momentary pang of regret.
Remember that your decision to part with it was a logical one. It created more space, physically and figuratively, and allowed you to move toward your goal.
I often joke with clients that Someday is not one of the seven days of the week. I can’t claim that phrase as my own, but it rings true. If ever Someday is added to our 7-day week, let me know. I’d also like to borrow your crystal ball.