the maybe box



Over the years I  have read a lot of decluttering books, blogs, articles.  I have listened to people talking about their own journey and heard people give advice.  Almost every single person, regardless of their methodology, rationale or philosophy advised people to have three piles: In, Out and Maybe.

I have never had a Maybe.

When you are decluttering a drawer or a cupboard you are examining not only physical stuff but also your emotions.  Even if the drawer is in the kitchen there will be an emotion attached to they stuff you are putting through your hands.  The  meals you have cooked with that whisk.  The kind thought behind the gift of spiraliser you have never used.  Examining your emotions is part of the process.  Accept the emotion, accept the memory and unless it meets the pre-Raphaelite code of  “do you believe it to be beautiful or know it to be useful” then let it go.  There is no inbetween.

So why  have a maybe box?  Because you haven’t completed the journey for the item.  You haven’t decided it it is either beautiful or useful and so you put it in the maybe box.  I can guarantee that almost all if not all of that box will never make it out of the door.  The mere fact that it has gone into Maybe is proof that you are  not ready to let it go.  So why pretend?

Furthermore, you come to the end of the declutter that day and feel great because your drawer is now clear, neat and ordered.  There are things that have been thrown away and some put in a bag to go to charity (tomorrow not sometime next week….!)  and then there is that Maybe box.  You have to find somewhere to put the maybe box, probably somewhere you can’t see it so you forget about it until the next declutter.

Over the course of the month, things from the Maybe box will work their way back into that drawer and it is no longer neat and ordered but reverts back to its original state.  All that work for so little return.  That wonderful feeling you had when you first decluttered that drawer comes back to haunt you and worse you tell yourself that decluttering clearly doesn’t work, at least not for you.  And you give up.

All because you had a Maybe box.

Be strong, let it go or keep it.  The important thing is to not only make the decision but to know why you have made it, in fact once you have done that the decision is not only easy but becomes a no-brainer.

Love Gillie




3 thoughts on “the maybe box

  1. Hi, just came across your blog and have been having a read through and very much enjoying it. I don’t usually comment on blogs, but reading this felt the need to ask: do you ever have the awful feeling though when you throw something away and for a little while you miss it?

    At the moment I’m a student, graduating this week actually. This time packing up hasn’t been so difficult because I’ve managed to streamline my belongings over the course of the year. But I must admit, moving from flat to house a couple of years ago I was ruthless and there are a few things I still miss with a tiny bit of yearning every now and again.

    Maybe this has very little to do with a maybe. Maybe this is more to do with the state of mind in which we de-clutter. Maybe there are certain moods where those are times we should avoid trying to sort through items because we may toss things away quite carelessly! It would be nice to hear your thoughts on this.

    Great blog, thanks for the interesting thought-provoking words!

    1. That is such a good question and one that most of us ask ourselves but don’t actually answer. In short I don’t think there is anything I have decluttered that I still regret. There have been one or two things which I have thought “bother I could have used that now” but it was never serious enough to make me go out and buy a replacement. Occasionally with clothes I have put something on and thought “I know what would look great with this” only to remember it went out several months ago. In those cases it is not as if I don’t have plenty of other things that will go just as well if not better.

      Sentimental items are harder. When my father was ill I found myself saving all the birthday and Christmas cards he sent each year just in case they were the last ones he sent. Now I put them up, enjoy them and recycle them. My memories of my father mean much more to me than a birthday card. Having said that when my eldest daughter was born he sent (he lives in California we are in the UK) a series of letters to her telling her about his life. Those I have of course kept!

      I keep the Pre-Raphaelite tenet as my rule. Keep only that you believe to be beautiful or know to be useful. The birthday card may be beautiful to you, so keep it. But don’t keep all of them. If you are a regular spiraliser then keep it. I use a potato peeler, but then I only spiralise irregularly. On the other hand I live on greens/apple/ginger smoothies. Take my liquidiser away and I would be lost.

      It helps if there is a reason why you have to cut down. For me in the first instance it was the flood and the realisation that we had TOO MUCH STUFF and it was all covered in mud. Right now it is because we are splitting our house into two and need to look very carefully at what we keep because we are downsizing. A friend who is a regular house mover says that you must unpack every single box within a week of moving in. Put a single box in the attic and it will stay there until the next move. That has certainly helped her to cut down unnecessary stuff.

      At the end of the day I can’t really give you advice because I am not you! Only you know where you are coming from, what you love, what scares you and what you want from living with less. But the more you question every purchase and every item you come across as you move through your home the closer you are coming to living with what you love and need and not with all sorts of extraneous clutter. Thank you for your very interesting and insightful comment.

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