Take It From Me: To Keep or Not To Keep: How To Decide When To Throw Something Away

March 4, 2014

To Keep or Not To Keep: How To Decide When To Throw Something Away

As human beings we are inherently wasteful creatures but there are some things we just can't bring ourselves to throw away when we're 'having a clear out'. Unfortunately however, many of these things turn out to be almost completely useless. Knowing what to get rid of and what to keep is something of an art form, an art form that is easy enough to cultivate if you simply ask yourself the right questions.

Why am I keeping this?

Those 'smart' trousers that you grew out of more than a decade ago, that biscuit tin full of 'POGS' and that box of assorted cables and wires you're not even sure ever actually belonged to anything. These are just examples of some of the things you might expect to find in an average loft space, conservatory or 'storage room' and examples of items we really don't need. So if you're having a clear out and you have to ask yourself this question and you can't find a reasonable answer, it probably belongs on the scrap heap. On the flip side, items that might have a defined use (boxes from products you might eventually want to sell, spare mechanical or electrical parts etc.) might want to be set aside into the 'keep' pile.

Am I becoming a hoarder?

You've no doubt seen the shows and read the articles, in fact you've no doubt marvelled and scoffed at them but it doesn't take much wriggle room for a sane person to turn into a hoarder, it could even happen without you realising it. There's a very thin line between a stubborn cleaner and a hoarder, make sure you fall on the right side of that line.

Does it have sentimental value?

Sentimental value is something we can end up attaching to even the most ridiculous items and it's not rare for people with certain personalities to manufacture sentiments as a reason for keeping things that really should have been cast aside years ago. Childhood toys are a prime example. How many of us have cardboard boxes stuffed full of plush toys gathering dust in the loft or the garage? Yes these toys might have meant a lot to us a long time ago, but they are not doing anyone any good where they are. We've all seen Toy Story and we all know it can be hard to let go of childish things, but your old toys could be bringing joy to a disadvantaged child. Of course there are certain items that have an undeniable sentimental value and very few of these items will be of much worth to anyone but you. These kind of items that you'd feel genuinely upset to lose (that scrap book from high school, your first teddy bear etc.) are probably best set aside as they are not the kind of things you'd ever be able to get back.

Is it worth anything?

Of course just because you don't want something anymore, that doesn't mean you don't have to throw it away. What with the advent of online websites such as 'eBay' and 'Gumtree', there's a genuine market out there for just about anything with a semblance of value. If you are on the verge of throwing something away, take a second to ask yourself if you might be able to make any money out of it.

Is it useful?

An obvious question perhaps, but one that is no less vital. Many storage spaces are full to the brim with old magazines, VHS tapes, old books and old oxidised (and unusable) paint. These items would be better served either being donated or thrown away. Of course how 'useful' an item is very much depends on the person who owns it but I think we can all agree that a draw full of old bills and receipts from items you're not sure you even own anymore would be of no logical use to anyone?

Is it practical?

This is an especially apt question with clothing. We do have a tendency to keep items of clothing from our childhood or from certain, rose tinted points in our lives but the fact of the matter is, we probably won't ever wear them again.

Am I going too far?

Of course to play devils advocate for a bit you could also say that it's possible to get a little caught up in the de-cluttering and end up getting rid of some truly irreplaceable items. Sure most records, games and what-not could always be bought again if the mood ever takes you, but more unique items (photo albums, limited edition items etc.) might be completely lost to the wind.

The main thing is to find the right balance between caution and enthusiasm. Having a de-clutter can be a surprisingly cathartic experience but it can also be quite destructive if you're not careful. As long as you remember to ask yourself all of the questions above though, you should have a completely de-cluttered home in no time at all!

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1 comment :

  1. Great tips! I usually purge my belongings whenever I move. I only occasionally regret losing certain items. I just remind myself that in the end, they're just material items and I won't die without them! haha


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