STYLE Savvy: Using Time to Your Advantage

"Using time to your advantage" by Lisa Hess (

Via Piabay (2017), CC0 Public Domain

Last week, I posted about the role that time plays in the organization process. While this is a great idea in theory, the practice sometimes gets us into trouble.

Take my pile-up on the step for example. That is not a procedure I’d recommend. If we need to employ time as part of the process, we need to use a few strategies when we set aside our “maybes” to ensure that time is a tool and not simply an excuse.

  • Store it intentionally. Whether you box it up and stash it out of sight or leave it where it lives until you make a decision, put your collection of maybes somewhere on purpose and mark it accordingly. Label the box, tag the clothing or use some other method to remind yourself that the item is in limbo. Otherwise, you’ve made the decision to keep it — at least until the next time you get to that pile or location.
  • Set a deadline. If you box up your maybes and store them out of sight, make sure to mark them with an expiration date. Write it on the box in permanent marker or on a sticky note in pencil — either way, determine at which point it moves from “maybe” to “keep” or “find a new home for.” Or consider the change of season your decision point. Unless you’re a snowbird or going on a tropical vacation, there’s no better time to get rid of those clothes you didn’t wear all summer than at the beginning of fall.
  • Decide whether to view or not to view. I’m a big fan of not viewing things a second time. If they’re a maybe when I put them in the box and I haven’t opened the box by the time the deadline rolls around, opening the box again is only an invitation to a new dilemma. It’s important to make this decision when you put things in the box, however. You need to know you’ve made a promise to yourself that the box leaves your house with its contents uninvestigated before you put things in the box, especially if your personal style is I love stuffIf you know you shouldn’t look, but think you won’t be able to help yourself, make a list of the contents and tape it to the outside of the box. Reading a list of contents is much less emotionally evocative than going through the items one last time.
When used strategically, time can be a valuable part of our organizational process. Employed as a thinking tool instead of an excuse to hang on to things past their prime, time allows us to thoughtfully separate trash from treasure. Then, when we are finished, we are left with the things we use and enjoy enough to care for and store appropriately.

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.


  1. Well-timed (see what I did there?) I have 2 boxes of miscellaneous and 1 big box of books sitting in my daughter’s room from when my office was in a furniture transition. Some of that stuff has a home elsewhere. Some belongs in the office. And some needs to go into a box with a deadline on it (and a list on the front, because I’d go insane if I couldn’t check the box).
    And did I mention she comes home for the weekend tomorrow, so I want to get all of this out of her way?

  2. It’s amazing how intimidating a couple of boxes can be…add to that the fact that after a while, they blend into the landscape and, before we know it, it’s been months since we put things somewhere “temporarily”!!

Leave A Reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.