I recently posted about my current efforts to purge, organize, clean, and clear my storage spaces, both workshop and personal spaces.
Since my workshop and personal spaces tend to blend together a lot, this is a huge endeavor.
Here’s the start of everything: I Keep Too Much Stuff – Tools, Parts, and Personal Things.
Shown above is a bunch of my tools from a little more than 10 years ago, when I dumped onto my workbench every Sears and Craftsman-related purchase I could quickly find. Those were much simpler times.
As it turns out, I used the same image in a 2013 post: 5 Reasons Why I’m STILL in the Middle of Sorting Through my Tools.
You would think I should have learned to better organize things since then, right?
Alright, so I spent a couple of hours going through about a dozen bins last night, sorting and consolidating some of what I’ve been needing to go through. There’s a lot more to go, but I like to feel that I made a dent.
I have started to make arrangements to help clean things up further. The high school woodworking shop could use more drills, impact drivers, and sanders, and the photography and video teachers are open to anything I am willing to give.
Here’s where I hit a snag, or relevation.
I have more cameras than I need right now. So I should part with some of them, right?
I have a small mirrorless camera that I purchased to take photos of the kids on-the-go. But, smartphone cameras have gotten much better in the ~7-1/2 years since I bought that camera.
Looking at the last photo on the memory card, I last used the camera 2-1/2″ years ago, at a birthday party.
So why do I feel so bad about wanting to give it away? Because it’s a great camera, and I might miss its features and portability? Will it be just the right camera for an upcoming birthday party or day trip?
I have other cameras to donate, and it’s just as hard letting them go.
It’s the same with tools. If I upgrade something, or try something different, I keep the older copy as a backup. But at one point does one have too many backups?
I could use that. This works against me in so many ways.
The old Stanley/ZAG parts bins that I don’t use because I like Akro-Mils a lot better? But I could still use them.
The Gladiator parts bins I could still use, but I don’t because i) I like Akro-Mils bins better and ii) I don’t have Gladiator gear tracks installed anywhere at the moment? But I could still use them.
For that matter, I also still have Gladiator hooks and tool holders from a workbench I disassembled 10 years ago, plus at least 2 boxes of unopened gear track hardware. But I could still use them!!
I have two machinery mobile bases, one new-in-box and one disassembled in a tote bin. I bought them on sale a very long time ago. I used one, but not the other. But I could still use them!
I could use all these things, but I’m not, at least not now.
I hate the idea of having to replace something that I have given away, donated, scrapped, or sold.
I could use this is different from I will use this. Going through a lot of the things I have saved, this is increasingly obvious.
A lot of the things I purchased over the years had meaningful costs. You know how they say the sting of a purchase will go away after you use and benefit from it? That’s true, but the sting comes back when it’s time to part with that item for whatever reason.
I treated myself to a Leatherman multi-tool when I reached a milestone on the path to my PhD. It wasn’t an easy expense at the time, but I decided to splurge to reward myself. I don’t easily part with multi-tools or pocket knives, but this is an example of cost-memory.
It has been difficult for me to part with functional equipment. Maybe I will need it, maybe I could use it. But am I using it now? Will I be using it soon? Do I think I will be using it soon? Is the item irreplaceable?
I’m adding to the donation pile.
The same goes for personal items. Am I likely to watch DVDs again, especially of TV series? Streaming is so much easier and more convenient. I might keep some, but the others will be donated to the library.
The Marie Kondo “does it bring you joy?” question has come in handy as well. I saved a lot of random things from my childhood, but some of those things have no place in my life today.
When I was in elementary school, we had penpals in China. I don’t remember much about that, other than a map of Guangdong that I kept for maybe 30 years. It didn’t take up much space, and I was happy in keeping it when I was younger. But do I still want to keep it, or was I keeping it out of habit, because it once brought me joy to keep?
I have a couple of Sears and Craftsman tool catalogs from roughly 10 years ago. And I’m keeping them.
I have metric conversion tables and books that I believe my uncle gave me after he cleaned his basement. One of them is a Brown and Sharpe “The Metric Conversion Planner.” It’s “vintage,” but isn’t worth anything.
I have never used metric conversion tables. What I cannot convert in my head or on paper, that’s what Google’s built-in conversion calculators are for. So, goodbye metric conversion charts.
Right now, I’m mainly sorting things into “things I think I want to keep,” and “things I absolutely don’t want to keep.” I’m organizing a lot of it in the process, but the deeper organization is going to come later.
It feels really good to do this, but I am far from done.
For those of you who lamented being in the same boat, what have you done since I starting posting about my spring cleanup efforts last week?