Purging Stuff: Categorizing

My Shed, My Version of Monica’s Closet

As I’ve been purging stuff, I’ve been pondering why I buy the stuff I do and how to alter my shopping/accumulating habits. I think most people struggle with sentimental attachments to items. I too struggle with this a bit, but I’ve realized that most of my stuff fits into one of three categories.


A placeholder is an item that you don’t love, but serves a purpose. I have a lot of these. As much as I would like to dispose of the things that I don’t love, I shouldn’t get rid of the placeholders until I’ve found the perfect replacement. If I do, I’ll likely end up with another placeholder. These could be items that were once nearly perfect but are dying a slow death. Or they might have never been perfect, but were just there when you needed them, so you settled. Or you might even have several placeholders filling the role of a multi-purpose item. Being a small space dweller, I’m all about the multi-purpose products. Throughout this process, I’m taking note of the placeholders and making a list so that I can begin to shop with intention.


The understudies are all the duplicates you have lying around the house just waiting to be called to service. They are often items that you determined should be replaced, but then suddenly they became too good to retire once the replacement entered the picture. AsĀ Francine Jay says inĀ The Joy of Less, “Does your cordless drill really need an understudy?” Probably not, and not many items do. I have found numerous understudies in my home and, with the exception of my hair dryer’s understudy, have gradually been sending them on their way to a new life of service. After this process is complete, I intend to live by the “one in, one out,” rule – no more understudies.


The diamond-in-the-rough is a dangerous one, it moves in to your home and just lays around, never reaching its full potential. I am horrible about buying, or at least keeping, these. Clothes and furniture are my biggest temptations; I am certain that I can refashion or re-purpose them to make them fabulous. In reality, many of these items are never transformed. During this month of simplification, I’m gathering up the diamonds-in-the-rough and giving them a good hard look. There are a few that are worth polishing, but if I’m honest with myself, a lot of them need to go. I will be narrowing them down to a select few and putting an expiration date on them. This might mean there will be a few project posts for this blog.

What do you think? Does your extra stuff fall into these categories or would you create your own?


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