Use It or Lose It

Use It Or Lose It!

One thing all of my clients will tell you is that I am always telling them to “USE IT OR LOSE IT”.

As an organizer it is my job to help my clients sort through belongings and ask themselves tough questions, like:

  • When was the last time you used this?
  • Will you ever use this again?
  • How many times have you actually used this anyway?
  • Do you have anything else that you can use for this function?

A lot of times the answers are that they have a) never used it, b) used it once, c) it was given to them and they never liked it, or d) I have 3 things that perform the same function. These answers usually mean the object needs to go. For the things my clients are struggling to let go of and think they may need “some day” I tell them to “USE IT OR LOSE IT”!

When I say, “USE IT OR LOSE IT” I mean it!

If you don’t USE IT your gonna LOSE IT (donate it). Once we agree that an item fits into the “USE IT OR LOSE IT” category we need to assess it and give it an expiration date. We physically assign a date by writing it on a post-it and slapping it on the item. Then we put that item somewhere it is easily accessible so that it has every opportunity to be used. For example, if you think you absolutely must keep your 1980s hair crimper we will put it on the bathroom counter so after 30 days if you haven’t used it, when it was right in front of you, then you never will and it goes into the donate pile.

Use it or Lose it!

Some things to think about when assigning an expiration date are:

  • How much did this cost?
  • How much room does it take up in my house?
  • How long have I had it?

Something that was very expensive gets a longer expiration date than something very cheap. Something you’ve had for 10 years and used once gets a much shorter deadline than something you’ve only had six months. Something large gets a shorter deadline than something small.

Sometimes these lines are blurred because things can fit into multiple categories. A ping-pong table takes up a lot of space but it may be worth a lot of money. This is when you need to reflect on what your individual priorities are. Do you value the space in your home over the money spent or the money you could get to sell it? Each individual has different priorities and that is okay, you need to come up with a timeline that feels right to you.

What is most important is the physical reminder. The Post-it is all about accountability.

If you say that you are giving yourself 3 months to play ping pong and that date comes and goes you need to stick to your expiration date and let the item go. Accountability is key!

Remember the post-its when you are decluttering the house and when you are unsure of whether or not you need to keep something just tell yourself “USE IT OR LOSE IT”!

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About Angie Ficco

Angie Ficco is a Greater Philadelphia professional organizer with Angie Organizes in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Visit Angie Ficco's website
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