Question: I collect magazine articles and have files upon files of them. What should I do with them?
It sounds to me that you like collecting information. Maybe you like to “know” things and pass information along to others. Or you like to have the info “in case” you might need it. Maybe it’s a bit of both.
Clutter is defined as something you do not love, that is not useful and that you do not have room for in your space. With that in mind, I have some questions for you:
· Do you actually refer to the articles? If not, is it because you can’t find anything or you never actually need to use the info?
· Do you have room for your articles or is your collection outgrowing or has already outgrown its space?
I once worked with someone who had an extensive magazine collection. Someone asked her for place card ideas for a party, and she brought in a stack of ideas culled from her collection. I was blown away. I have never had the patience to maintain magazines articles to any extent. For me, they were clutter; to her they were very useful.
Be honest with yourself about how useful your articles are to you. If you can’t find what you’re looking for but have actually needed the info, it’s time to set up a system that works for you. By asking me your question, I’m guessing that the collection is either not useful to you or you have too much of it.
“In case” are code words for fear. You just might be collecting information to make you feel like you are safe, “If I ever need to know this, I’m covered!” It would be ideal to address the emotion and not collect the stuff, or you set yourself up for needing more and more stuff to cover the fear.
To start clearing and set up a system that works for you, I would suggest this approach:
My husband and I both enjoy cooking, so it’s easy for condiments to accumulate, hot sauces, oils, Thai flavors, you name it. I decided to go through them yet again not long ago, thinking I could make a pretty quick job of it since it hadn’t been very long. “Very” is quite subjective though, is it not? I think it had been about six months, which didn’t seem that long to me.
Once I got started it didn’t take long to find things to clear out. I was actually quite surprised that I found as much as I did (six or seven things, or so). As I shut the frig, after clearing and wiping down the door shelves, I wondered why I still had so many that either we didn’t use or had expired.
I realized that I was living in “just in case.” What if we need or want______(fill in the blank)? Also, so many of us have been taught that it’s a shame to waste food. That gets in the way, too. When I was growing up, and we were putting leftovers away, my dad would say, “Shall I throw it now or later?”
But throwing it now or later – what’s the difference? We sometimes use the crutch of wanting something to be spoiled beyond use before we give ourselves permission to get rid of it. Let’s save ourselves the guilt and energy drain and deal with it now. And maybe not buy any more condiments (or, fill in the blank) for awhile.
I opened that frig right back up and threw out three more things, things I just felt guilty I wasn’t using, and things that I was just going to throw out six months from now. Who knew what oyster sauce could teach us?
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