Many years ago, I worked at a restaurant as a larder cook. I knew very little when I started, but over time, I learnt skills such as slicing, piping, and presenting food – skills that have stood me in good stead. Another thing I learnt was that left over food needed to be treated with care. The chef’s rule was, ‘when in doubt, throw it out.’ Obeying this rule has probably saved many from stomach upsets or worse.
I often cite this rule when I am faced with clutter. It applies just as well to plastic containers, useless gadgets, and the mountain of papers I have kept. Yet stuff accumulates and multiplies like weeds. Especially paper. As I write, my desk is cluttered with paper I need to sort, throw out or shred.
The end of the year is the time I tend to favour for a ‘spring’ clean. The days between Christmas and New Year are perfect for this job. Sometimes I throw out more than I should, but that is rare. More often than not, I don’t delve deep enough. This year, I am determined to go through papers I have kept because ‘they could come in useful someday’ and purge anything I haven’t looked at in the past year. Ten-year-old lesson plans and other teaching resources will be added to this pile. I’m not about to throw out sentimental letters or tax files – these will stay. It is the amassed pile of articles (now years out of date) and hard-copy work files that I will discard. If I have enough time, I will also tackle the computer and delete pesky duplicates and any unnecessary files!
I swore I wasn’t going to make a New Year’s resolution, yet this is beginning to sound like one. Could I call it some mad, end of year tenacious pluck, and avoid the weight of expectation?
I suppose it really doesn’t matter what I call it. All that matters is that I can reclaim my desk and eradicate feelings of overwhelm whenever I enter my study. I want to start the year with that fleeting sense of control.
Wish me luck!
4 thoughts on “When in doubt, throw it out!”
Good luck, Vicki! I need to do the same thing – I have a lot of papers to sort and to chuck!
Bon chance! I am doing a declutter too and have found so many coloured pencils and felt tip pens, no longer used by the kids. So am giving lots away to be used at last – I hope.
You have motivated me Vicki. I have moved the junk on the desk tops and in boxes to the kitchen table. The tactic is that it will annoy me. I’ll prioritise the sorting today. I hope!
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Yep. My goal at work and home. So many ‘might be useful someday’ items’ making the really useful things hard to find or store.
Nice to know we are not alone in our quest.
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