STYLE Savvy: Giving it Time

"STYLE Savvy: Give it Time" by Lisa Hess (

Via Pixabay (2015), CC0 Public Domain

Although my organizing and clutter-busting has come a long way since I started organizing by STYLE, there are almost always hot spots in my house. And, as with anything else we pass by often enough, I don’t even see some of them anymore.

One pile in question has been living on the step in my office for longer than I can remember. I can’t really even call it a hot spot, as I don’t usually drop new things there. It came to be when I was doing one of my attack-the-office sessions, and it was a small price to pay for a neater space overall.

What was supposed to happen was that the stuff in that pile (homeless stuff that had accumulated in my work space) would get put away.

How often have I written about finding homes for things? Piles like this are the reason. Homeless items don’t miraculously find themselves a place to live. If your house is anything like mine, they make up the bulk of the clutter.

Last week, for some reason I don’t quite know (perhaps it was divine intervention), that pile began to irk me, and I decided it was time to do one of my low-key stealth attacks, also known as organization games. I realized that if I simply picked up one thing every time I walked by the pile, and made a decision about it, I could make that pile go away. That was, I must admit, a pretty exciting prospect.

Some of the stuff on the top was actually easy. Yay! Progress.

Then it got a little harder, so I decided to dive into the middle of the pile where the older stuff was. One box seemed to be taking up a lot of space. Moving it would yield a substantial payoff. I pulled it out.

The manuscript for my first novel.

Generally speaking, I’m not an I love stuff girl, but I must admit to a sentimental streak. I remember putting this box there, planning to recycle it and its contents. I even picked it up a couple of times, but couldn’t quite bring myself to get rid of it, so there it sat, collecting dust and attracting more things to the pile.

I weighed it in my hands. It was time.

One of the organizing strategies I love is the one that allows us to set (some) things aside temporarily, getting rid of them later only if we haven’t missed them in the intervening time. Usually, with the odds and ends that make up most piles in a household, packing them away for a month is sufficient. Six months is more than enough for most of the rest, even for I love stuff folks.My novel came out in 2014.

I’m glad I didn’t just stick it in the basement. Although it would have made my office life neater, I can promise you it would still be gathering dust there if I had. Now, one published novel, two works-in-progress and more blog posts than I can count later, I’m ready.

As I’ve said over and over (and over) again, organizing is a process. Sometimes, time is an important part of the process. While I’m not advocating letting things pile up in your workspace, I am saying that sometimes, the rules don’t apply. Sometimes, we need to let time take the lead, and respect our need to do things on the timeline that makes sense to us. It may mean that things are less-than-perfect  in the meantime, but it also means we’re less likely to make decisions we regret.

I don’t regret keeping those pages, nor do I regret the fact that it took me three years to reach the point where I was ready to let them go because that’s how long it took me to reach the point where clearing the space was more important than keeping the stuff in the pile.

All too often it’s all too easy to force ourselves into decisions that meet other people’s needs. Unless your stuff is interfering with your ability to live your life, cut yourself some slack.

Sometimes, time is the answer.

Copyright 2017 Lisa Hess


About Author

Lisa Lawmaster Hess has contributed articles to local, national and online publications, and blogs at The Porch Swing Chronicles, The Susquehanna Writers and here at She is the author of two non-fiction books (Acting Assertively and Diverse Divorce) and two novels, Casting the First Stone and Chasing a Second Chance. A retired elementary school counselor, Lisa is a lecturer in psychology at York College and enjoys singing with the contemporary choir at her church.

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