Have you ever wondered why we keep things? What we keep? What weíre going to do with all the STUFF?
UNDERSTANDING THE BEHAVIOR
Letís peek inside our heads at the ways we hoard and the REASONS we say to ourselves to keep things:
OUR KIDS' SCHOOL WORK
If itís you keeping their paperwork youíre in trouble. Youíll keep everything. Try to train yourself, just like we do with children, to keep no more than 12 treasured pieces of artwork per year. At the end of each year, pick ONE of the best. If they are truly gifted in art, English, science, etc., and have some truly outstanding work, then you may choose to keep more. Just remember that you need storage spaces for these items. We all love our children and think theyíre really gifted, but we have to be REALISTIC if hoarding is a big issue in our lives. And, we must never force our children to keep things because WE think they need to.
FURNITURE, STUFF, BABY CLOTHES
Be strong. Unless YOU can USE all of these items, find someone who can. Antique items can be sold. Stuff can be gifted to relatives or friends. Baby clothes are needed at pregnancy centers, etc. Do your children really want these clothes? Encase one adorable item in a frame and give it to your child when they move out, or when they have a child. Keeping things from the past KEEPS us in the past. We canít move on and live our lives when things that donít belong to us smother us. Memories are in our minds and hearts. Take pictures and move on.
Pull out all items, one shelf at a time, to see how many DUPLICATES you have. If you can tell, line up duplicates by age, newest in back. Date all canned items. Tomato and acidic canned items should be used within a year. Any bulging cans should be discarded. Try to keep only three items of any one product, if it isn't used often. If you use many cans of something, then decide how MANY cans you use between your shopping trips and keep only that amount. When you open the next to last can or package of something put it on your shopping list. If you use many cans of something at a time, then put it on your grocery list when youíre down to three left. Stick to your grocery list. Donít continually buy items because theyíre on SALE. Itís on sale because itís getting old. How long can you safely use it and have space to store it? Remember to rotate your canned and packaged items so the oldest items are in front of the newer items.
Unless you need to keep your utility and telephone bills for your business TAXES, there is no need to keep them. When you receive a current bill, check to be sure that last monthís bill is showing as paid and then discard last monthís bill. Do the same with credit card statements, unless something is for taxes or is in dispute. If youíre not sure about disputable items, then keep three months only. Think through WHY youíre keeping the paperwork you have. Is it current? Can you get it someplace else if you need it? Do you need it for taxes? Do you need it to prove ownership? Do you need it for school or passport or immigration issues? Do you need it for investment purposes? Do you need it for banking purposes? Please check with your accountant and lawyer regarding how long to keep FINANCIAL records.
LEARN TO DRAW THE LINE
When you start collecting everything and claim itís SENTIMENTAL you are setting yourself up for some pretty strong addictive behaviors. Start the New Year fresh by questioning your motives for keeping things. Then make CONSCIOUS decisions about where those items can go to help someone else, or yourself.
Sheila McCurdy is a professional organizer specializing in hoarding issues. She is the author of "The Floor Is Not An Option" -- available directly through www.OnlineOrganizing.com.
Would you like to reprint this article in your publication -- or distribute it to a wider audience? Click here for reprinting instructions.
Want to receive these kind of articles via e-mail each month? Sign up for a free newsletter subscription.
Click here to return to "Get Organized" -- January 2005...
www.OnlineOrganizing.com is a service mark of Bradford, LLC.
To see what people are saying about www.OnlineOrganizing.com, check out our visitor comments.