Friends and family often ask me for organizing advice, and I love to give it. I love what I do and enjoy sharing what I’ve learned. Just the other day my friend asked me this question:
“When we re-did the bedroom, we bought a king-sized bed. When it was delivered, we took the queen-sized an put it in the garage. It’s still there. What should I do with it?”
This question is rich with information. I know that the bed still has value, or it would have gone out with the construction trash. It might be
that it’s well-made, well-liked, or treasured for some reason. In this case, it’s all of the above. Good quality, attractive bed, belonged to mom and dad. And yet, it’s been replaced. Upgraded. Traded in for a newer model. I also know, however, that now it’s garage clutter, she sees it everyday and it really bugs her. It bothers her because it’s taking up space. It bothers her because it’s probably getting dirty and dinged up by garage stuff. It bothers her because it’s a useful item not being used. So out comes the question “What should I do with it?”
I ask a few questions and learn that the bed was a hand-me-down from her parents and she feels the bed. Between the lines, I see this: my parents slept in this bed when I was a kid. My husband and I shared this bed until we could afford to renovate the bedroom. They don’t make quality like this anymore...
So what SHOULD she do with it? Here are her options:
1) Keep It
2) Get Rid of It
They are the same options she had they day she put it in the garage. That day a clear choice was made to keep it, right? Not really. The real choice made that day was “decide later.”
“Decide later” is an option too many of us choose when we are dealing with our things. Quite often the role I play as the professional organizer is to show up and make you decide today about past ‘decide laters’ that have become a problem in your life. I totally get it - deciding is hard when so much is attached to an item. But deciding is what must be done to resolve this question.
If her answer is ultimately to keep it, then an organizational solution is needed. If the answer is let it go… it’s just a scheduling and logistics problem. If it’s I don’t know, it’s a bit more complicated and you need to ask yourself some questions:
Is this a treasure to me that I want to remain in my life…does it make me happy to see it?
Will my family appreciate that I kept this? Will it be passed down?
Am I willing to pay money or be inconvenienced to keep this item?
Would it cost too much to buy a new one?
When I’m ready to use that bed will I want to build the decor of the room around it?
If you can answer YES to most of these questions, then KEEP is your answer.
If NO or NOT REALLY, or PROBABLY NOT came up a lot, then GET RID OF IT is the answer.
If you’re still in I DON’T KNOW land then there’s more soul searching to do. Ask your mom if the bed is a treasure to her. (She may have been glad to be rid of it when she handed it down to you!) Ask your kids what they think of it. Envision the future room where it will live.
It’s important at this point to remember that when we choose to get rid of something, very rarely are we turning it into trash. There are so many places to donate your items in good condition. If it really comes down to not wanting to treat it like trash, find a charity that will take it from you knowing that it will continue to serve someone who will appreciated it like you once did. I like to look beyond Goodwill and The Salvation Army, which often limit what they’ll accept. See what groups your community collect items, or consider Habitat for Humanity’s Re-Store Thrift Shops. Look into Veterans Organizations like Purple Heart and Green Drop that will donate your item, or sell it to fund support services for Vets. Find a way that you can feel good about letting the item go, instead of so bad that you leave it sitting for years doing nothing at all.
Barbara Hemphill, a pioneer in the organizing industry once said it best: “Clutter is nothing but postponed decisions.” What my friend should do with that bed, is make a decision and put it into action.