If I were to guess, I would say that “I might need it one day” is the top reason for hanging onto stuff. It was in my life. I had extras of everything. I had extra clothes, tools, dishes, cooking utensils, books, blankets, cords and cables, nuts and bolts and screws… the list goes on and on.
In a sense, all that stuff wrapped me up in a very cluttery security blanket. I felt safe knowing that I had extra stuff in case I ever needed it.
While my clutter security blanket made me feel safe, it was also smothering me.
As I looked around my home I became disgusted with the constant mess. I felt like I was fighting a never ending battle to keep my home clean and organized.
The turning point for me was when I realized that no matter how much stuff I kept for the “I might need it one day” factor, it was never enough. I realized this when, for the umpteenth time, I had to run up to Home Depot for the right size nut, bolt, or screw. I had a whole collection of hardware, and it seemed to be a whole collection of wrong-sized hardware.
Whenever I bought something that needed to be assembled, there were always a couple of nuts, bolts, or screws left over. I collected these bits of hardware in a box that lived in the garage. Every time I needed something I would turn to that box of hardware. More times than not, I didn’t have the right size nut or bolt in that box.
Eventually it sunk in that the box wasn’t really doing me any good if it never had what I needed. In fact, it was doing the opposite as it was taking up space, was kind of ugly (being an old cardboard box) and it was an extra step in my quest to find the item I needed. Instead of going to the store and getting what I needed right away, I would spend five to ten minutes in a fruitless search before heading to the store.
In addition to those factors there was also the disappointment at not having the item I needed and having to go buy it. The funny thing is, that disappointment wouldn’t have been there if I never had a box of parts and instead always went to the store to buy exactly what I needed.
An interesting tidbit came up in one of my coaching calls recently, and it applies here nicely. The idea is this: Don’t be a warehouse. Let the stores be your warehouse. Let the store hold all the items you might ever need, and when you need it, go to the store and get it. No home has the space to warehouse everything you’ll ever need.
With the box of nuts and bolts, I was warehousing my own little hardware section. This concept repeated throughout my house. What began as a security blanket to cover future needs turned into a series of small warehouses through my home.
What’s in your warehouse?