When faced with the task of editing, clients often reason, "But what if I need it later?" or, "What if my other one breaks?" I'm not talking about one-of-a-kind items. I'm referring to easily replaceable everyday items or ones that are clearly no longer used. It’s hard to let go, even when they have little value, no current use, or when we have three of them. It could be bubble wrap, gift bags, kitchen gadgets, party decorations, formal clothing, or even empty boxes that we do not need to squirrel away in our homes.
"What if" is fear talking. "What if" is insecurity. "What if" is scarcity mindset creeping in as logic. So, let's talk about the "what ifs" so you can liberate yourself from this clutter-creating mindset.
What if I need it later or someday?
It’s fairly common to fear not having what you need when you need it. But, when talking about the everyday items that sometimes get stockpiled or put away for potential future use, what you are really fearing is temporary inconvenience or discomfort. So, you must ask yourself, are you willing to endure the possibility of a little discomfort should you need a pen, plastic fork, pair of scissors or juicer in the future? If you are, you can exchange that uneasy feeling for the comfort of living in an organized home with more breathing room every day.
What if my other one breaks?
Some people like to keep duplicates, or even triplicates of an item. The justification for keeping them is “just in case.” Think about it though. You have four can openers in the kitchen. One is your clear favorite that you reach for every time, but you want to keep the other three as backups. How often does a can opener break? And, if your favorite one broke, how difficult would it be to replace it? Mostly likely, it would be a simple replacement, possibly years from now. Are you willing to trade the minor inconvenience of having to purchase another can opener down the road for the huge convenience of having more drawer space right now?
Where do the extras come from?
In the case of multiples, it's important to observe how they got there in the first place.
Disorganization: Are you buying multiples of an item because you don't know what you already have in your home?
Retail Therapy: Are you shopping for entertainment and acquiring things without editing or using something like the 1-in-1-out rule?
Gifts: Were they gifts you didn't know what to do with but felt obliged to hang on to?
Collecting: Do you collect can openers?
Observing how you got to where you are is as important as the organizing process so that you don't end up repeating the same patterns.
What if someone else could really use it?
We know what we need for ourselves, but what if you could also see around the corner and know what someone else in the community might need? If you are part of a Buy Nothing group, you have a small window into other people’s worlds. You have likely seen people either gifting or asking for everything from hiking boots to baby bottles. Seeing a nearby neighbor requesting something can be the motivation you need to let go of an item that is just taking up space for you but could be tremendously helpful to them. So, the question becomes, "What if someone else could really use it?"
Could your worn-once bridesmaid dress be someone else’s prom dress?
Is the nice man on the corner moving out and in need of packing supplies like those in your closet?
Could your old baby sling help a new mom?
Is another family looking to celebrate a child’s graduation and hoping to save a little on decorations like the leftover ones you’ve got stuffed in a drawer in the guest room?
Do the shoes that never fit you right be perfect for that lady you see walking every day?
Is a local Girl Scout troop collecting supplies for a charity project just like the ones you’ve been amassing in the basement?
Buy Nothing Groups can be inspirational on your organizational journey in another way too. When you see others offering items after a garage purge or a kitchen edit, it could inspire you to jump on your own organizing project. Someone could be gifting an item that you also have, don’t use, and maybe even forgot about. When you see how many people are requesting to be considered as the recipient, it could feel great to snap a quick photo and offer yours up too. And think of all that space you can reclaim!
And remember, if the “What if” really does come to fruition, platforms like Buy Nothing can be a resource for your needs, too. You may find yourself asking, “What if my neighbor is giving away a perfectly good can opener?” Not only might it be possible to get what you need, but you’d be able to build relationships while reducing their burden of excess.
Make Editing Part of Your Routine
Even if you’re not doing a big organizing project, I encourage you to create a designated place to collect items that are truly just taking up space. You can do this over time. Let them simmer in an “Outta Here” bag or box if you need another moment to consider letting them go. When the editing bug hits you, they’ll already be gathered and ready to go out the door.
Of course, the Element of Fun Organizing team is here to lend a hand during any stage of an organizing project. Check out our Services to learn more about how we can help liberate you from accumulated clutter!