If your thoughts while uncluttering often include the phrase, “I might need it some day,” it might be time to defeat this nefarious excuse, and finally let go of things you don’t need.
I hear you
I totally get it. Why get rid of something you might need? I’ve got a scrap wood pile in the basement. It spends the majority of its existence simply sitting there, taking up space, harboring insects. Every now and then I’ll remove one item for a project or quick fix, but that’s about it. I dislike the idea of getting rid of it. But what would happen if I did?
What happens when I get rid of something:
- I would have to buy or borrow the item if I ever wanted it.
- That’s it. There isn’t a second or third item.
If I got rid of that pile, there might come a day where I would have go to out and buy more wood. That will cost me both money and time. That’s true. What is the alternative?
What would those costs be? In my experience, pretty small. I’ve concisely demonstrated that I rarely need wood from the pile. So that’s not really a big deal. What is significant is the fact that keeping it costs me, too.
It costs me time in having to root through to find what I need. It costs me stress and guilt when I see it sitting there doing nothing. It costs useful storage space. It also makes me nervous because if the house were to catch on fire, that big pile of wood would be literal fuel for the fire. If I look at it honestly, I believe that these costs are worse than what I’d pay in cash and the time to run to the store.
Of course, it’s at this point in my thinking when my fear kicks in and I think, “What if it’s not available in an emergency?”
It’s possible that I’ll suddenly, urgently need something from that pile. If it’s gone, I’ll suffer a mild to major inconvenience. That stinks, but is it a huge problem?
Again, let’s look at the ongoing inconvenience of maintaining that horde. The trouble with finding things, and the stress/guilt of living with a pile that I ignore 99 percent of the time outweighs my ability to respond to a hypothetical situation. Also, I could keep two pieces in the backyard shed instead of hundreds of pieces indoors and completely alleviate all fears related to a hypothetical emergency situation.
Ask the right question
Instead of asking yourself, “Will I need this some day?” consider the alternative question: “Is this stuff affecting the organized life I want?” If the answer — the honest answer — is yes, it’s time to let it go.
We’ve written several articles on letting stuff go. Consider today’s conversation one you can have with yourself at the very beginning of that process. While giving up some items can be tough, the cost of keeping those things can be even worse.