The Three Boxes Method to Organizing Your Stuff


You have the interest, commitment, and gumption to oust the unneeded stuff from your kitchen (and so from your life).Now, you need a system. Now, you need the “three boxes,” an easy, straightforward, task-oriented method for decluttering. With the three boxes, you put all of the items in your kitchen into three categories: “Keep,” “Consider,” and “Re-Home.”

Here is how it works. Imagine three big boxes sitting in your kitchen. One is labeled “Keep.” As you sort through kitchen objects, anything that you are definitely keeping will go in this box. For many people, an item like a coffee maker, which is used every day, is an automatic keeper. This category is specifically for items that you don’t even have to consider, things you would never contemplate eliminating. If you hesitate for a moment about an item, it does not belong in the Keep box. If your hand puts something in this box before your brain realizes what is happening, that’s probably a keeper.

The next box is labeled “Consider.” Anything you are not sure of – a pan that is used once a year during a holiday, a blender that works OK but not great, an item with guilt value that you can’t admit is useless -goes in this box. Any item that you are unsure fits into the Keep box goes in Consider by default. If you find yourself thinking about something before putting it in the Keep box, toss it in this one. The name means both that you will consider it as you go forward and that you already had to consider it at the outset. You hesitated. You thought about it. Throw it in.

The last box is “Re-Home.” This box will go to a thrift store, your preferred charity, or an online marketplace at the end of the project. Getting rid of our stuff is hard, so this will likely be a box that starts out pretty empty but fills up over time.

You might be tempted to put nothing in Re-Home at first. This instinct can be overcome by throwing in duplicates, a useful and reasonably easy place to start. Most of us have duplicate items in the kitchen; two ice cream scoops, extra silverware, far too many mugs. Tackle those items first. Removing the doubles (or triples or quadruples) appeals to logic and simplicity. Also, you probably resent them every time you dry the dishes and have to balance cups on top of each other.

It will feel good to throw things in Re-Home by the end of the project, even if it seems like the enemy at the start.

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Nicholas Carr

Nicholas Carr is a blog meant for various domestic tips mainly but not limited to cleaning, washing and wiping dust, stains and dirt away from your home.