We’ve all been there. We can’t take that cluttered room anymore, so we go in with a trash bag and start tossing the old periodicals, the empty component boxes, but then we get stuck on a half finished craft project, the old documents, the expensive gift we never liked, or the turntable that works fine, but we never use. Either we push ourselves to make decisions we regret or retreat with our half full bag of trash. In either case, we are discouraged from further decluttering.
These are all gray items and to organize effectively, you need to make allowances for them. It almost always makes sense to store gray items more remotely. Remote is not to be confused with hidden. Here are some familiar gray items found in most homes and how to store them.
Back up supplies. In the home office, it makes sense to keep a minimal amount of office supplies at your fingertips, to free up as much processing surface as possible. On the other hand, backup supplies are gray and should be stored away. Same idea for back up, and particularly larger, kitchen supplies.
Keepsakes. There’s nothing wrong with keeping items for purely sentimental reasons, but it’s a good idea to see them all together, so you can see just how much of your space they’re taking up. Also, if they are important to keep, they should be important enough to keep well. That paper shopping bag isn’t cutting it.
Sleeping files. It’s important to distinguish between current year/ vital files and older archive files, you are keeping just in case. I call this latter stage sleeping files, because they can be woken up if necessary, but there’s no reason they should take up valuable real estate in your home office. Rotate them annually.
Seasonal items. Seasonal items including seasonal clothes and holiday items generally require access twice a year: once for storage and once for retrieval. Since they don’t have 100% usability, they don’t merit 100% accessibility. Seasonal items are gray, so store them away.
The exception. Some possessions are between keep and toss (gray) because they require donating or selling. These are both actions and therefore they should stand out like a single gray hair that needs plucking.
Outside of that exception, gray storage can take full advantage of vertical space. Shelves can go quite high for items you don’t need all the time. Storage boxes for gray items should be more uniform in size, so they fit and fill the shelves better than an odd variety would.
For the record, I have nothing against gray hair. There is certainly less of a good reason to hide gray hair than there is to store away gray possessions. In fact, my wife encourages my gray hair (almost as much as she creates it.)