Please, DON’T Try This Organizing “Trick” At Home!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The other day I was casually scrolling through my Pinterest feed when a nicely designed graphic on closet editing appeared. This is far from uncommon; Pinterest detects a theme to my posts (weird) and assumes I want to see pins relating to organization almost exclusively. Mostly, I ignore them because the advice they contain is helpful, if somewhat benign. 

But this particular pin caught my eye. It originated from a very popular website, and it was written in an approachable and concise manner. I glanced over the text, casually co-signing its straight-forward advice. But as I read further down, I cringed. What was being advised, happily, clearly, pseudo-Simply was one of my least favorite organizing techniques. I oppose it so strongly that I’ve already once decried it.

The common organizing technique that professional organizer Annie Traurig warns against. "Only use this 'trick' if you want to increase the clutter in your life.'"

Pin: Take all the stuff you think you want but can’t in any way articulate a reason as to why and shove it in a box. Close up the box and put it up high, high above or somewhere low, low down. The darker and more remote the area you can place this box of maybe’s in, the better. That way you won’t have to look at them for the duration of your test period, which shall last no more and no less than thirty days. (Which, conveniently, is just long enough for you to completely forget the box and anything within exists!) After thirty days has elapsed, if you didn’t find yourself desperately yearning for anything in the by-now-complete-mystery-box, don’t even think about opening it up, just donate it! (We know you’ll do that hahahahah good luck dummy.) (We’ve never tried this, by the way! But we read it somewhere else so it must be good and hey, this is totally gonna get us loads of traffic, weeeeee!).

Annie: NOOOOOO!!




Okay, okay, so I’ll admit I’m overdramatizing the issue a bit. 

I know that everyone is unique, and that there are people–maybe even some of you reading–who commonly use this and other similar techniques for editing with success. I know that’s so because the three people who actually follow through with this practice have assured me they exist. I just haven’t personally encountered a single client case where anything resembling this practice results in a person dutifully and blindly donating the collection of stuff they put away to see if they miss. (That was painful to type).

Unless you are one of the three miraculous souls mentioned above, please, please don’t try this at home. Please don’t indulge your desire to delay decisions by pretending you have “maybes.” Please don’t mistake your having owned things for as long as you have as not qualifying as your trial run. Please don’t think you should extend this period, to further prove to yourself what you already know in your gut. Please don’t purposefully set yourself a task that’s so damn near impossible to remember to follow through on. Please don’t prioritize safeguarding your anxiety above pushing yourself in the direction of clarity.

I have faith in you. I have so much confidence in your ability to make decisive choices. I know that you know, in your bones, right this second, what you really love and need and what you don’t.

Be bold. Trust your intuition. Don’t box it up. 



2 thoughts on “Please, DON’T Try This Organizing “Trick” At Home!

  1. Michaela

    Ohhhh dang it! Really got me in the gut with this one: “Please don’t mistake your having owned things for as long as you have as not qualifying as your trial run.”

    I have never intentionally done this practice of “box up your junk, hide it from yourself and see if you miss it”, but since I moved in May and still have mystery boxes tucked all over the house, ummmm whoops! maybe I have…? But, GREAT NEWS! Months ago I blocked off this weekend as an unboxing weekend (maybe I should do one of those weird YouTube videos…not the point) and damned if I’m not excited to get all Simply up in this business. “And she declared that not one more plastic bin shall be purchased!”

  2. Laura Black

    YES or NO, with no room for Maybe, worked for me for the longest time. But for me, a “life” event lent itself to a LATER category. To wit – when an only child moves back into her childhood home and is forced to deal with a lifetime of accumulated parental stuff. Initially, going through my parent’s items, most where a clear YES or a clear NO. However, there were a number of items that fell into the “I have no idea why I can’t make a decision on this item” category. Listening to my inner voice. I decided not to rush a decision and created (an initially all too huge) LATER pile. At regular intervals, I tackled the LATER pile. At the second (third, fourth) round, I found some were clear YESes, most were NOs and, truth be told, some were returned to the LATER pile. Until I could make a rational, non emotional decision, the item was returned to the LATER pile.

    Three years later, the LATER pile is extremely small and I do not rue my decision to forgo a portion of my basement to ensure a real and rational decision was made on each item. It was hard going through the items – piece by piece, memory by memory – but I believe making a rationale decision on each piece was worth the delay.

    By the way, moving from my 3,500 sq ft house to my childhood home’s 1,500 sq ft required a huge amount of culling discipline. Thanks to you Annie, and Live Simply, I had no real issue making decisions about my stuff. Thank you so much Annie. Much Appreciated.


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