We hear it a lot and it’s usually from the husband, who still doesn’t quite understand what the heck we are doing in his home.  “Hey, don’t throw that out!”

The point of a good professional organizer is not to make you throw stuff out.  Our focus isn’t on tossing, it’s on keeping. It’s about what you are keeping, why you are keeping, how much you are keeping, and where are you keeping. Don’t get me wrong.  An answer to all those keep questions may include tossing, but that answer always comes from the client, not us.

The funny thing about being told “Don’t throw that out!” is that we have no intention of throwing it out,  just because it’s in our hands.

I don’t mean to pick on the husbands, being a husband myself.  Sometimes we’re the ones ready to let go.  Whoever the happy trasher is, he or she should not take the righteous stance over the cautious keeper.  If there’s a civil war between keep and toss, there will be casualties.  Why? Because, just as in a real war, there is a failure to recognize the middle ground.  How do you solve this?

When decluttering a garage, basement, or any room, it is important to begin with a fast sort of like with like.  When items are clearly categorized, you can get a clear sense of the quantities you have and can therefore make a more informed judgment about what to keep, than if you just look at unrelated items, one at a time.

Let’s say you are looking at all the electronics, for example,  and they cover an entire table top.  The happy trasher may recognize that this will fill up 3 out of 10 shelves.  That’s too much.  The answer: toss it all!  The cautious keeper, on the other hand, will claim that those assorted cords and parts might come in useful.  So where’s the middle ground?

Maybe the happy trasher can concede that some useful items are OK to keep if they fit on just one shelf.  Maybe the cautious keeper can agree to let go of the non-useful electronics and outdated technology, but there’s no way it’s all fitting on one shelf!  It’s a start.

In my experience, the cautious keeper is always shocked at how many things HE is keeping.  (Let’s face it, if it’s electronics, it’s the man.)  In the end, odds are very good that the potentially useful electronics have been reduced to less than a shelf’s worth.  It’s a result that the happy trasher can live with.

Truly effective purging comes from finding a middle ground.  If the happy trasher makes the cautious keeper toss everything, it will inevitably lead to the statement “You made toss that and I needed it the very next day!”

Yeah, good luck trying to clear the NEXT room;-)