Sorting and Organizing

August 6, 2012 by  

Sorting – How Do You Know What To Get Rid Of?

This is the biggest stumbling block for people when it comes to sorting through their belongings. How do you know what to keep and what to give away. You can look at almost anything and attach a personal meaning to it. It might be something that was a relatives, that has since passed away. It might be something that you KNOW you will use again… some day. It might be clothing that you WILL fit into again, someday.



There are advantages to having a friend come over to help you, or someone who is not attached to the items, like you are. It might be that you do decide to hire a professional organizer to come in and help you.

The attachment to the item is what is hard to separate out by yourself. It doesn’t mean you can’t do it on your own, by any means.  But you need to consider the amount of space you have and what you want your living space to look like – as compared to what you are trying to keep.  You can’t fit 10 gallons of water into a 5 gallon bucket. (I think Peter Walsh uses an analogy like that)

Here is a list that was compiled by the NAPO (National Assocation of Professional Organizers) Chat Group.
Here is a good list to read down and help you decide if you want to really keep something.

Questions to Ask Yourself:


*Was it a purchase mistake? (if so, it does not make it better to keep it)
*Does it take more time and effort to manage than it is worth?
*Does it make others unhappy to see it? Am I putting things before people and relationships?
*Do you need it? Is it redundant (i.e., do I really need 3 measuring spoon sets)?
*Do I love it? Does it make me happy or unhappy to see it?
*If you were moving, would you pay to have it packed and moved?
*Would you buy it again?
*Is it broken, and if so, are you ever going to fix it?
*Are you ever really going to finish this project (book, quilt, etc.)?
*Can you borrow or purchase another one, if needed, without spending a fortune or having trouble finding it?
*When’s the last time you used it (assuming you knew it was there)?
*If you knew that someone else would really benefit from having this (i.e. if you found a great place to donate it), would that make it easier for you to let it go?
*Is this adding value to your home or business?
*Is this item getting in the way of your ability to find what you need, when you need it?
*Will this help me make or save money?
*How much space does it require (the more it takes, the more critical you should be in your decision to keep it)
*If you keep it, will you remember you have it? If you remember you have it, will you be able to find it?
*Convince yourself that you need to keep it.


*Am I legally required to keep it (i.e. vital & tax records), and if so, for how long? (a topic for another whole newsletter)
*Will I actually use it/refer to it/need it?
*Is the information still current?
*Can it easily be duplicated or created if needed again (i.e. found on the web)?
*What’s the worst that can happen if you toss it?
*Is it a duplicate?

*Is the item in good condition?…does it have stains or tears or is it too worn)?
*Is the item still in style (And no…..1980’s shoulder pads are not going to come back into style in the same exact way)?
*Do you love the item, or even like it? Does it make you feel great to wear it?
*When was the last time I used this item….Would I use it again now that I remember that I have it?
*How many do I currently own of this type of item (maybe 20 pairs of black pants are too many)?
*Does it fit? If not, is it within a reasonable number of size ranges of my current size range to keep it?

*Do you have anything else that reminds you of this (event, person, time)?
*If we took a picture of it, would that make it easier for you to let it go?
*Am I keeping it because someone gave it to me and I’ll feel guilty if I get rid of it?
*Does the sentimental value exceed the practical value (if so, by all means, keep it!)

Using these guidelines can make it much easier to help you decide if you are going to part with something.

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5 Responses to “Sorting and Organizing”
  1. Great post and I too, need to declutter my home, office. That takes a lot of home space and It has been arrange also.

  2. If no one uses it – out it goes! It deserves to live with someone who WILL USE IT!

  3. Jan says:

    I love this post. I am trying to clean out my closet to install an organizing system in there. When we moved in 09/2011, I put a lot of things in our little walk-in closet that didn’t belong.

    Such as a box of things that belonged to my sister.

    How many items should I keep that belonged to my sister prior to her death? When we were cleaning out her house, we found 3 boxes of special chocolates. She had them in a box labeled “Christmas, 2011.” So, she had purchased 1 each for me, for my sister and for my mom. I will NEVER eat them. I kept several things of hers, but enough is enough. Nothing is going to bring Karen back.

    I have donated a TON of her things to Goodwill and such. Each thing was so difficult to give away. All of her medical books went to a physical therapy school.

    I kept 3 pair of her earrings…the rest of her jewelry is going to my mom and sister to go through. After 4 years, I really think that is progress :)

  4. Sandy says:

    It is So difficult when a family member has passed away, especially someone that seems she was too young to go. I think it sounds like you have made a lot of progress. I like that you kept just 3 pair of her most special earrings and you are passing the rest on.
    As for the chocolates, I think the memory of her saving those boxes of chocolates is what is relished… rather than the actual chocolates. After all, she bought you chocolates thinking you would enjoy them.
    Here are a couple of my ideas. If you still have the box labeled… Christmas 2011, I would take a picture of that, and maybe even cut out that verbiage. Then I would take a picture of the 3 boxes of chocolates. Because your sister meant for you to enjoy them, what about enjoying them together… your other sister and mother and you? Maybe on a special occasion when you especially want to think of your sister – like Christmas this year… or her birthday? Sit together.. talk about her… cry together and eat chocolate together. Be sure to take some pictures!
    Then make take those pictures, that cut out label & make copies of it (2) from the box… maybe the lids to the box of chocolates and create 3 framed keepsakes for each of you to hang and think of her.
    That is such a neat thing, I love the idea of embracing it and celebrating your sister with it.. rather than keeping the actual chocolates boxed up.. hidden away.

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