Use It or Lose It, How I Deal with the Maybe Pile

No matter what method you use to purge your stuff, you will likely end up with roughly three piles; Yes, No and Maybe. And just as there are a host of methods for conducting a purge, so too are there a myriad of ways to sort your Maybe Pile – from the KonMari “spark joy” assessment to the Minimalists “90:90” Rule.

But what of the items that just won’t be rationalized out of the Maybe Pile? For me, those items get assigned to “Use It or Lose It” (UILI) status. Once an item gets placed into a UILI purgatory I set a timeframe during which it must be used, or it must be discarded or donated.

I use a couple of key indicators to help me set the appropriate length for an item’s UILI grace period:

  • Season: Living in Toronto where we have distinct seasons that need their own set of “stuff”, I will often give an item until part-way through its distinct season, if not the entire season. If I’m being truthful the Snow Shoes in my garage have overstayed their UILI deadline more than one winter.
  • Opportunity: The last few Springs I have rationalized keeping my Snow Shoes because of extenuating factors that have made their use more difficult; from Polar Vortex temperatures of the last few years to the cold I couldn’t kick this Winter that knocked me down for nearly 2 months.
  • Potential for Future Use: A few years ago, I took an afternoon Snow Shoeing tutorial at the Markham Museum and quite enjoyed the experience, and so the Snow Shoes, not unlike the Yoga Mat remain – even unused – because I actually want to use them, they are not relics of a sport or activity I no longer enjoy.

So, what got me thinking about the UILI principal? On Tuesday I wore an item that I had decided would be discarded at the end of Summer if I didn’t use it. I purchased a couple of belts before my weight-loss and despite knowing that they would look much better on my now, I hadn’t actually worn them; that is until now, the threat of UILI motivated me to use and enjoy an additional item in my wardrobe.

Maybe, this winter I actually will use the Snow Shoes (or the Yoga Mat) because it is high time I assigned them a deadline for use and stuck to it.

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