Taxonomy of Possessions

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.

4 thoughts on “Taxonomy of Possessions”

  1. I guess I don’t have nearly as many artifacts or collections as you do. I do have things that I have saved for years, things that mean a lot to me, but there aren’t many. I tend to remember things more by telling stories than looking at momentos. I guess it’s just a different way of doing the same thing 🙂

    As for collections…I used to collect things, but I got very sick of having a lot of one kind of thing around. I think I’m a little compulsive about not having lots of stuff. I like watching movies, but I tend to rent most and only buy what I really really love. Same with books. I’ll have many books and then sell them all off. Except for my very dear ones (given, there are a lot of dear ones).

    I do, however, have way too many bath products.

    Also, I tend to throw away receipts and financial stuff I don’t ever see myself needing. This HAS bitten me in the ass a few times when I needed a piece of paper, but it was worth it to have a relatively paper-free existance. (I do save really important stuff like taxes and loan stuff) 🙂

    Your categories are definitely apt. I just probably relegate way more stuff as junk, maybe to my material possessions’ detriment.

    1. Yeah, some of my collections I can probably give away or throw out, like stacks of old Wired magazines.

      And my collection of receipts and financial records definitely needs some organizing and pruning, though that’s an undertaking in itself…

      1. seriously! you have receipts from Target from 2002! 😛 😛

        I like the idea of getting rid of the magazines too. You’ll never read them. You won’t you won’t! And they take up SO much space and are SOOOO heavy! 🙂

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