What do a toilet plunger and old tax returns have in common? They’re both things that don’t exactly spark joy, but you’d better keep anyway.
If you’ve heard of Marie Kondo, the Japanese bestselling author, you will probably recall her #1 criterion for keeping things: Does it spark joy?
I think this is a lovely question to ask when purging things like clothing, books and décor. Not so much, though, when it comes to many of the other items we use every day.
I asked my NAPO organizing colleagues what they thought we should keep even if it does not particularly spark joy. Their suggestions fell into four main categories. These are just examples, not an exhaustive list. Disclaimer: The basic rules of organizing still apply! Don’t keep things just because you paid good money for them or you might need them someday and can’t decide what’s worth worrying about. And don’t let your containers overflow!
- Everyday Tools & Supplies — medicine and medical equipment and supplies, toiletries, grooming items, batteries and light bulbs, office supplies, pet supplies, kitchen ware, underwear, trash bags, eyeglasses, toolbox, auto supplies, cleaning supplies, exercise equipment
- Emergency Tools & Supplies — first aid kit, toilet plunger, jumper cables, emergency preparedness kit
- Seasonal Items — holiday decorations, ice scraper, snow shovel, lawnmower, gardening tools, camping gear
- CYA/Legal (ask your accountant or attorney how long YOU need to keep yours) — divorce papers, will, medical paperwork, mortgage papers, tax returns, vital records (birth, marriage, death), social security card, business receipts, insurance papers
A new criteria?
I say (and to be fair, I’ve heard Ms. Kondo does too, finally, in her second book) that it’s OK to keep something if it serves you well and sparks gratitude when it comes in handy. No need for downright joy all the time. This is also how I justify keeping certain tasks on my to-do list, and why I love chores. Not everything is joyful, or fun. But it had better be worthwhile if I’m keeping it!
But wait – what if some of these utilitarian items could, indeed, spark joy?
Clearly not everyone feels the same way about every item. Divorce papers, for example can represent heartache for one person, or freedom and relief – even joy – for another. And some items spark joy only when actually being used to save the day, such as the toilet plunger, or only a few times a year, such as holiday decorations.
But sometimes we keep things that are barely serviceable or ugly. Why? What is the point of keeping a first aid kit that is not well stocked? Or a shovel whose handle keeps coming off? I, for one, am very particular about my trash bags. I cannot stand drawstrings, or flap-ties, or twist ties. Ugh! Give me handle ties and I’m a happy — joyful? — girl!
Think about the things you use or wear every day: A pen. A mug. A bra. A cutting board. I say the more often we use, or wear, or look at something, the better candidate it is for upgrading. Buy the best. Forget the rest. I recently upgraded my eyeglasses to the point where I can honestly say they spark joy! Come to think of it, it might be time to go buy some new dishtowels. I use them daily and they’re getting ratty.
What are you keeping that does not spark joy, and why?
Are you grateful for it, at least? Does it need to be upgraded?
Please share with us in the comments below!
Copyright 2016 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
Social media links directly to this page are encouraged!
Please contact me for other types of reprint permission.