What with all this cleaning and organizing going on, I was thinking of taxonomy of possessions.
item that has no worth or value, but has somehow eluded being thrown out.
Examples: expired coupon, old catalog.
item that may have no intrinsic value, and might not be used often if ever, but serves as a mnemonic link to a specific person, event, or time period.
Examples: concert ticket, handmade mug.
item that does not come into common use, but has the potential to be useful at some point.
Examples: drill press, necktie.
item that is used perhaps frequently, perhaps uncommonly, but belongs to a grouping of similar items.
Examples: book, DVD.
item used on a regular basis.
Examples: laptop computer, toothbrush.
So looking at those, Junk can obviously be tossed.
Artifacts are a bit trickier, since my memory can be swiss-cheesey sometimes, a symbol or reminder of some sort might be the only trigger that will remind me an event even happened. Probably the best thing to do with artifacts is to digitize paper ones, and dispose of the originals, or at least consolidate them into scrapbooks. Non-paper artifacts are tougher to deal with.
Potential also covers old stuff which I don’t use anymore, but keep around in case I *might* use it for some project in the future. My old gadgets fall into this potential category. The best thing for potential items is an honest assessment of if they will really be used. I can look at old PDAs, MP3 players, laptops, and cameras and say “you know, really, I’m not going to use these for anything.” If that’s the case, it’s time to give them away or sell them on eBay. Or, if they are of kinda questionable quality, like the old rusty outdoor grill or the weird voicemail system, throw ’em out.
Collection items are a matter of preference. I happen to like to have shelves full of books, DVDs, and video games. Do I need them? Not really. But every once and a while I like to return to them, and it’s sort of comforting to know they are there, since some aren’t easily available anymore. Kinda like my own personal library. I think financial records also fall into this category.
Useful items, obviously, are for keeping. As zen-like as one may be, one would find it difficult to brush one’s teeth without toothbrush or toothpaste.