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  • Estimated Reading Time: 6 min, 12 sec

But, what if I can't decide?

Sort into 6 categories: Stay Here, Somewhere Else, Give Away, Recycle, Trash, and TBR.

*** An excerpt from a future book ***

Last week's homework for the Clutter LESS Support Group was to set a timer for 15 minutes and sort. If we were willing to continue, then set the timer again and sort for another 15 minutes. Using fifteen-minute blocks of time, the goal was to sort papers, knickknacks, tools, clothes, project items, or whatever we wanted to clear into various categories: Stay Here, Somewhere Else, Give Away, Recycle, Trash, and TBR.

The Clutter LESS Support Group Leader, Lisa, had reminded us that the Stay Here and Somewhere Else groupings are for those items that had clear answers to the Paper Progress or KEEP / LET GO questions. If they had a designated home, then we finished sorting, we'd put them away. If they didn't have a home, they'd stay in the storage box until we designated a home for them. Give Away were those items that someone else needs and would love. Recycle and Trash — it's time to free up the space, so let it go. TBR (To Be Revisited). We should use TBR when we're unsure, or when we're attached and decide. The point is to keep sorting and not get stuck on any one item.


Brian' Story

Brian shares his sorting project first.


Connie's Story

Connie jumps on the container theme before sharing her news


Karen's Story

Karen, who’s been a client of Lisa's for a year, shares her project.


*** The stories of the Clutter LESS Support Group, Lisa, Brian, Connie, and Karen are works of fiction. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental. ***

When faced with de-cluttering, space clearing, or organizing, you will come across items you haven't used or don't have any plans to use, but you can't bring yourself to let go of them. It could be college text books, your children's old toys, hobby supplies, a project you thought of doing someday, or any number of items. P.S. 'someday maybe' is not a plan.

You have sorted your items into groups. You may have even used these categories: Stay Here; Somewhere Else; Give Away; Recycle; and Trash. But as I mentioned in Step 5 of Clearing the Clutter, you get to have a box of 'maybes' and 'not sures' during the sorting stage. Yes, eventually you will need to decide but for now, you get TBR (To Be Revisited).

TBR is an important category when sorting. When I'm working with a client on sorting items (papers, clothing, books, miscellaneous items, or any thing) I always have a pile or box for TBR (To Be Revisited). The goal during sorting is to sort, not get bogged down in deciding. The TBR items go in a box to ripen.

Without the TBR option, you could waste hours trying to decide whether to keep or let go of one or two items. By focusing on the easy decisions, you begin to identify guidelines and rules-of-thumb; you can see a pattern of your usage, your thinking, and your intentions.


Here are five steps to a successful TBR.

Step 1:

Give yourself permission to use a TBR. Yes, it delays the decision, but it's part of the plan.

Step 2:

As you sort through your things — deciding to keep or let go — begin building your personal decision guidelines. For example:

  • If I haven't read it in 6 months, I will let it go.

  • If I can find it online again, I will let it go.

  • If I don't make the time in the next 6 months to work on it, fix it or enjoy it, I will let it go.

Step 3:

At the end of sorting your space/area, revisit your TBR box and see if there is anything else you can decide to keep or let go. This is a quick review so spend only a few minutes here.

Step 4:

Box up the remaining TBRs, set a review date of 6 months or a year. Close it up and stack it neatly in your storage area. Let it ripen.

Step 5:

Revisit the box on or after the review date. Are you ready to let go of an item? Have you created a home for an item? Or does it need to stay and ripen more? Use the decision guidelines you've created.

Advanced Step: If you're ready, set a date to let the whole TBR box go without looking in it. Put a date on it. Tape it up. When the date comes, donate the whole thing without opening it up.


Not everything can go in the TBR box, but his category allows you to move forward> It allows you to clear some space, build your decision muscles and revisit the decision when you have a clearer idea of what you want.

What things are slowing you down? Can you put them in your To Be Revisited (TBR) stack and move on?
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