The Five-Year Rule: Sorting Through Your Stuff

How Long Will You Hold On?

Sometimes it’s time to turn those former “treasures” into the trash.

Yesterday, I had a conversation with professional organizer Julie Hough, owner of The Ordered Home in St. Louis, MO. The conversation began as a discussion about her client’s garage but turned to the general subject of why and how long to keep stuff.

We see it all the time in garages – boxes of twenty-year-old bank statements, piles of outgrown cleats, rust-frozen garden implements inherited from a long-deceased parent. How long must one keep unused, unusable stuff before the time comes to purge?

For me, a general rule of thumb is five years. If I haven’t looked at it, used it, or remembered I have it for the last five years; it’s time to go. Unless it’s a very special family heirloom or valuable artifact, sell, pitch or donate it. Do you really need those calendars from the last 20 years? How many weed-eaters must you have to survive? You can live happily without them.

So I urge you, right now, simplify your life and go throw something away!


Brandon Coleman

Brandon Coleman, owner of Garage Designs of St. Louis, brings over a decade of garage transformations and epoxy flooring expertise. A community-focused entrepreneur, he customizes each project to meet unique client needs, ensuring safety, style, and functionality in every space.

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