Manilla Mini: Why We Keep Stuff

Andrew Mellen
March 10, 2014

Do you have a “junk drawer” at home? How about a room or closet dedicated to the things you don’t know what to do with? Maybe you have an entire storage unit full of stuff? Understanding why we hold on to so many things will help us begin the process of letting go of the things we’re finished with.

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We hold onto things because of the stories we tell ourselves about those things. Here are five major reasons people justify keeping things.

1. Money. When evaluating an item, people will often say to themselves, “This cost me a lot of money,” or “I got a really good deal on this,” or “I don’t want to waste money buying it again in the future.”

2. Sentiment. As humans, we make connections to other people, to animals and even to things. Many people will assign an emotional value to an item, making it difficult to separate themselves from the object itself.

3. Time. It’s a simple truth: organizing takes time. Lots of people put off going through their things because the time factor seems too daunting.

4. Entitlement. Many people feel like they work hard and deserve to have fun on their time off, instead of taking the time to organize.

5. Responsibility. The final reason people hold onto things is because they feel a sense of responsibility for what happens to the item. Finding a good home for an item, not trashing the environment, or finding a needy recipient are all reasons people keep things too long.

Recognizing these behavioral patterns makes home organization a practical process instead of an emotional one. Now that you know why you hold onto things, you can more easily let them go.

Andrew Mellen is an organizational expert, best-selling author of Unstuff Your Life! and founder of Unstuff U®—the world’s first virtual personal organization training center. He can be found on the web at

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