Keep It Or Toss It? The Past, Present, Future Criteria

Are you one of those people who keeps something simply because you feel that you could maybe, possibly, conceivably use it some day? Or perhaps you’re the type to keep a birthday gift, despite the fact that you don’t like it, have no use for it, and are only keeping it on the off-chance that the giver might notice you got rid of it. There are many reasons that people decide to keep things they don’t need, but all of them result in the same thing – needless clutter. If you’re interested in making a bit more space inside your home, and possibly even making a bit of money in the process, read on.

It all starts off innocently enough – someone gets you a large ceramic chicken for your house-warming gift, and you say to yourself “I’ll just keep this for a few months so I don’t hurt their feelings“. One item turns into many, and before you know it, your home is full of knickknacks and useless trinkets. You may think it’s harmless to keep a ton of things you don’t use, especially if you don’t really *need* the space, but have you ever considered that the items your hording could be useful to someone else? Someone else who will actually use them. A ceramic chicken is a poor example, as it’s useful to no one, but what about that mountain of clothes you never wear that you’ve buried in the deepest reaches of your closet? Someone less fortunate could make great use of that, and not even someone less fortunate, maybe just someone else in general. Hell, you might even be able to make a bit of extra money selling the stuff. In any case, if you can bare to part with some of your “useless” items, consider following the “past, present, future” criteria. Ask yourself the following three questions:

  1. Have I actually used this thing a lot in the past?
  2. Am I using this thing at all these days?
  3. Can I see myself using this in the future?

If your answer is no to any of the following, and most especially in regards to present and future, considering giving away/selling the items to someone who will actually use them, and if the thing is beyond repair (like a broken cell phone) then recycle it or toss it away. The worst case is that you get a bit more space (never a bad thing) and the best case is that you make a bit of money, or make someone happy. There are plenty consumer goods to go around, and you don’t need to hoard them like a miser hoards gold.



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Chad is the co-founder of Unfinished Man, a leading men's lifestyle site. He provides straightforward advice on fashion, tech, and relationships based on his own experiences and product tests. Chad's relaxed flair makes him the site's accessible expert for savvy young professionals seeking trustworthy recommendations on living well.

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