Don't box stuff up to be thrown away later!

Organizers say box up stuff you are not using and toss or donate it if you don’t go into that box for six months. No! If you are already having trouble letting go of those things, who says you will have less trouble in six months? Are you going to be able to get rid of that box without opening it and agonizing over everything all over again? That’s if it even gets attention at all in 6 months' time. It may sit there forever!

Each infrequently-used item deserves special attention as a different case. Don’t throw them all in a box! Treat them individually. Yes, it takes time. That’s okay! Be willing to take time to make decisions about what you’ve accumulated over the years.

I have an olive pitter that is completely cool and works great as far as I recall, but I haven’t used it for at least two years. It’s time to get real about using it if I’m going to keep devoting the kitchen storage space to it. That decision involves different considerations than the decision I recently made about keeping some old glasses lenses that fit a pair of frames I still own.

The olive pitter decision will start with buying some olives with pits this week, to recall how well the olive pitter works, compared to using a knife or some other method that doesn’t require a special tool. The glasses lenses decision involves thinking about the likelihood that I will use those lenses again, determining where I will store them if I do keep them, and labeling them so I know what they are in the future. Yes, I said label them so I know what they are in the future! Just now I quite easily told you that they are old lenses that fit a pair of frames I still own. I’d like to think that will be readily apparent to me in a few years when I run across them again. When I ran across them last week, they were labeled “Use or Discard by December 2018”. I had evaluated them perhaps a year before. This week, I had a chance to think about it again. What if I had put them in a box of stuff to be discarded in December 2018 and tossed the box? Then I either would have discarded them without the chance to re-evaluate, or I would have opened a jumbled box full of confusion.

I decided to keep the lenses. The question remained - what to do with them in the interim so they aren’t cluttering up my bathroom cabinet? I put them in a glasses case with the frames, and two other pairs of unused glasses that I'm keeping for the future. Was I done? No. Having done the work, I had to record it for my future self. At the moment, I knew what was in the bag, but in a few years, I won’t. All the items are now labeled in a plastic bag (also labeled.)

Lots of work? You bet.

Worth it? Yes.

Here are photos of the bag before and after my momentous decision to label for my future self:

If you come across the bag in the first photo, you’ll feel vague and confused about what’s in it. If you come across the bag in the second photo, the information is all right in front of you. Love it!

Devote time to individual decisions about each of your infrequently-used items. When you decide to keep something on a trial basis, label it with a "discard if unused by" date and put it away. Don’t lump it in with other things in a big uncategorized box to dump six months later.

You'll feel calmer and more in control of your space.