Friday, September 9, 2011

Should I throw it out?

I thought since it's a topic very much on my mind right now, I'd continue the discussion on home organization. I really enjoy going through our things and deciding what things must go. Yesterday we went through Andrew's t-shirts and ties and found quite a few that he didn't wear that he could part with. I felt lighter with each item we gave away! (Although I'm quite sure some of them are not suitable for anyone anymore.)

So, how do we decide what to keep and what to get rid of? I'll share with you some things I've learned.


First rule of papers: deal with it right away, even it's to file in the "current" file.
  • Anything you will be referencing frequently, punch 3 holes in it, and put it in a nice white binder and label the back.
  • If you know you're not going to get to that "scrapbooking," change your thinking about it. Don't do anything fancy, just slip it in a page protector in a binder, or cut it out and use a glue stick to stick it to another paper, and then put it in a page protector in the binder.
  • To get started, get a bunch of large envelopes or files labeled with the year and the person's name and stuff everything into those. Then once the papers are all organized, at your leisure you can scrapbook one year at a time. It really doesn't take that long. Trust me, your husbands haven't kept as much as mine has.
  • If you don't want to look at it, and it's not a reference paper, and you still want to keep it, put it in The Box (see sentimental items).
  • If you haven't worn it in the last year, scrap it.
  • It doesn't matter if it's a "great shirt, I don't know why I don't wear it, I really should . . ." Think of how happy someone else will be when she gets that new, barely worn shirt and it'll no doubt be her new fav and she'll wear it every other day.
  • If you want to keep it because it was expensive, scrap it anyway. Give it to a best friend. Let her scrap it and not tell you about it. It's not earning/saving you money sitting in your closet.
  • If you don't want to scrap it because it's sentimental, keep reading for the "sentimental items" section.
  • Get rid of clothes with holes or stains that won't be treated.
  • (On clothes, Andrew's excuse for keeping a shirt he bought in Portugal that was "expensive" and "sentimental" was that Joe had a shirt he liked so well that he hung it up on their bedroom wall. I said I was sure Melissa didn't put it up in their apartment. Support?)
Sentimental items:
  • We got this idea off Buy a box of pre-determined size for everyone in the family. Everyone can keep whatever they want, as long as it's in the box. That way you don't have to have a discussion together about every item, each individual can decide for him/herself if it's worthy of the box.
Uclutterer had some good questions you can ask yourself to see if you really need an object.
  • Do I have something else like this that fulfills the same purpose?
  • If this is a duplicate item, which of these items is in the best condition, of the best quality, and will last me the longest?
  • Is this item in disrepair and need to be replaced or fixed?
  • Does this item make my life easier/save me time/save me money/fulfill an essential need?
  • Why does this object live in our house and is this the best place for this object?
  • Do I need to do more research to know if this is the best object to fulfill its essential need?
  • If this is a perishable item, has its expiration date passed?
  • Does this item help me to develop the remarkable life that I want to live?
Andrew and I added three questions to this list:
  • Do I even like this thing?
  • Is this item virtuous, lovely, of good report or praiseworthy?
  • Does it help fulfill our family's mission/vision/values?
Remember, you are under no obligation to anyone to keep anything. If you think someone wants you to have something, give it back to them and they can keep it :) At our house, we've also taken many pictures of things that we got rid of that we didn't want to hold on to, but didn't want to forget."After seeing that little puppy-dog face, how could Ariel resist?" you ask. "Practice," I answer.


  1. Great post, Ariel. I know we'll be moving within the next half year or so, and we'll have to be making a lot of these decisions! (I still have a few boxes of stuff at M&D's that need to be handled). I love the idea of taking a picture of things that have sentimental value but are never used!

  2. I love love love! I will forget that it exists for awhile, but then when I remember I will spend a few hours reading old posts and then check it every day for a week...and then forget about it again. :)

    I especially love looking at the archives of the unitasker items they post on Wednesdays!

    I've been thinking a lot about de-junking my apartment in preparation for this baby, and for moving next summer. This was a fabulously inspirational post, thanks!

  3. Oh my piles my piles my piles of papers. How can I live without them!? I'm so excited to try! Thanks for the great ideas, Ariel! We went through our clothes last week too, and it was really nice to shed some from the closet. Another consideration: save some clothes you don't want anymore for your 72-hour kit. You might be glad to have them again in an emergency situation.

  4. Meredith does a cool thing where she and Cameron are not allowed to buy something new unless they throw something old out. I would never do this, but I think it's a nice idea.
    Someday I hope I get married so I can be on this blog. If I get married does that mean I get to be on this blog? Also, if I get married do I have to know a bunch of stuff about nutrition and cleaning to be worthy of the blog? Or can I say stuff about... stuff you guys don't know about like... I'll get back to you.

  5. I'm also a fan of unclutterer, and I need to be more of one myself. I'm enjoying your new blog (friend of Nonie's)!

  6. Kate :) I LOVE YOU!!!

    About the shirt thing, Ariel, we have no shirts on our walls at our apartment. I think that was when Joe and Andrew were younger. Joe does still have this shirt though, it was autographed by one of his favorite musicians. Definitely one of the items for is "box" :) Joe and I are both non-clutter people, it's been difficult with an expanding family in a one bedroom apt... I am eager to go through things though!