In general, I have a really hard time getting rid of things. I come firmly from the “but I might need it” and “but maybe I can use it for something” camps. Add in a dash of sentimentality and a deeply rooted superstition that as soon as I get rid of something I will need it, and you have boxes and boxes of notes passed to me in the hall in high school. (Ok, just one box.)
Every now and then I find myself in the perfect mood, and then woe to anything extraneous in my house, nothing is safe. (Except, perhaps, the high school notes.) But that’s far from a continuous state of affairs, and mainly keeps itself to culls of the bookshelves and Happy Meal toys.
But when we’re moving, it’s a totally different thing. I don’t want to pack anything I don’t have to, and I definitely don’t want to find it a place in the new house. So how do I decide what to keep and what to throw? Here’s my thought process:
1. Is it loved?
If yes, keep it.
If no, move on to question 2.
2. Does it serve an important purpose?
If the answer to this is no, I ask myself why I’m keeping it, and it always ends up being one of three things. Someone gave it to me, I might need it, or I’m keeping it for reference of some kind. But you know what? Those three reasons are kind of dumb. Because either the person will never know I got rid of it, I can get another one if I really need it, or it’s not important reference, or it would have passed the “serving an important purpose” test. Out it goes!
If the answer is yes, then I move to question 3.
3. Does it serve that purpose adequately?
If the answer is yes, then it’s a keeper. I’d like to only have things in my house that I love, but that’s not always possible. So if I really dislike it, I put it on a list to be replaced at some later time.
If the answer is no, then out it goes, and it goes on a list to be replaced as soon as is reasonable. (These are things that serve an important purpose, right?)
So the books that I love? Keep. The fabric that I’ve had for 2 years and don’t love but figure I might use at some point? Going to a different home. The spatula with the head that keeps falling off? Gone.
But what about the high school notes? I’d been considering them as a single unit, but when I went through them individually I could see that some passed this test while others didn’t at all. Some of them were hilarious and held wonderful memories. Absolutely loved. Others served the purpose of documenting specific events in high school. And others did neither. So I tossed them after carrying them through multiple (I don’t even want to tell you how many) moves, and now I just have a discreet number that I have for a reason, instead of from habit.
If I did this on a regular basis instead of just when we move, it would be far more effective in simplifying and streamlining our possessions, which, frankly, would be very welcome.
So tell me, how do you decide what to keep and what to purge? How often do you get rid of things? Do you have it scheduled? Have a constant “Goodwill box”? What works for you?