Blog: Simplify Your Life
How Letting Go Of A Waffle Iron Can Save Your Life
Some people have an awfully hard time letting something go on the first go-round. They vacillate, back and forth, trying to decide if they will regret the decision. So I want to talk to you a bit about "waffling" as you are trying to clean out unnecessary clutter.
A Bad Case Of Indecision
You know what "waffling" is. It begins when you decide to get rid of that old waffle iron you never use. As you put it in the donation bag, you think to yourself, "But what if someone wants waffles?" You take it back out. Then you think, "That's silly. No one has wanted waffles in more than 5 years." You stick it back in the bag. "I could start making waffles again." It comes out. "I hate making waffles." It goes back in. This continues for another 15 minutes until you go to the dark side with, "But I might need it someday." You put the waffle iron back in the cabinet, to collect dust for another 5 years. Why do you do this? It's not because you are an evil and indecisive person. You simply lack a solid set of criteria for determining an item's worth. No longer!
The key to trimming down the clutter is being honest with yourself about what purpose that item serves in your life. If you can't conjure up at least one plausible scenario requiring the use of that green shag toilet-seat cover or dot-matrix printer from 1988, you may want to ask yourself if it is worth hanging on to. Try to provide solid answers to each of these questions:
- Why would I need it? (try to come up with one occasion when you would need that particular item again -- what would have to happen in your life for it to be useful, relevant, and valuable to you)
- Where would I need it? (if the item in question is only useful up north and you now live in Miami -- or only useful in a corporate environment and you're now self-employed, why keep it?)
- What would I need it for? (what purpose does this item serve? are you still involved with that activity? no reason to keep letterhead from an old job or tap shoes if you gave up dancing)
- Who would ask me for it? (people seem to hang onto stuff because they are afraid someone will ask them for it someday -- if it's the IRS or the police, keep it -- if not, think twice)
- When would I need it? (okay, you might need it "someday" -- but when is will that day arrive? 3 months or 35 years from now? is it worth hanging onto that long?)
The Past Is Future
If you haven't touched something in years, chances are that you're not going to use it anytime soon. Clothes and sporting goods seem to be some of the worst offenders! It's natural for people to have a hard time letting go of the past. And if an old outfit or a bowling ball really means that much to you, put it away with your keepsakes. Just don't take up valuable space in your active storage areas with items you don't use. Be honest and realistic about this one! At what point will the aforementioned green shag toilet-seat cover be crucial to your survival? If you can picture a specific, concrete instance when you will need it in the foreseeable future, then by all means keep it. "I might need it someday" isn't a good enough rationale.
What Is The Worst Thing That Would Happen If You Got Rid Of It?
When my clients are anxious about discarding an item, they are really saying, "I'm afraid of what might happen if I got rid of it." This is simply fear of the unknown -- uncertainty about the consequences of their actions. So I ask my clients to let their apprehensions run wild, and to imagine the absolute worst-case scenario. Will the world end if you toss out that ring binder you haven't used since college? Probably not. This knowledge helps dissipate the fear and makes letting go a little easier.
So let's say you do get rid of something, and then decide that you need it 6 months later (my mother claims this always happens to her, as a justification for postponing cleaning out!) This isn't always a problem. Ask yourself what would be required for you to replace this lost treasure. If we are talking about an expensive or hard-to-find item, you are certainly justified in thinking twice before tossing it. But if it's just an old butter dish or an extra stapler, it's not such a big deal. You have to consider cost versus benefit -- it may cost you more (in time, space, energy, or money) to keep the item than to replace it if and when you ever need it.
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posted on: 10/25/2011 11:30:00 AM by Ramona Creel
category: General Organizing Tips
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Simplify Your Life
by Ramona Creel
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I have been a Professional Organizer for more than 10 years, I am a NAPO Golden Circle member, and I was the original founder of OnlineOrganizing. I have worked one-on-one with scores of clients and have trained dozens of newbie organizers as they got started in the industry. I provide both hands-on and virtual coaching to help clients improve their organizing skills and simplify their lives. I invite you to visit my website at http://www.RamonaCreel.com, and I challenge you to find one new idea that you can put into practice in your life, to help you become better organized, starting TODAY! I am passionate about coaching folks toward a more balanced, productive, and enjoyable life -- and I firmly believe that if I can do it, so can you!
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