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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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« Ask the Expert: Joshua Becker | "Wandering" Ideas »

Is It Too Small To Save?

I’m laughing because of the irony of what I’m about to write. For many months, I’ve been saving a big piece of paper from one of my clients with one tiny sentence printed on it. I knew that the sentence would provide inspiration for a blog post at some point. And guess what? Today’s the day!

My client told me this story and gave me permission to share it with others. He said that one of his family members for years saved in her closet a box that was carefully labeled . . .



“Pieces of string that are too small to save.”


Since releasing and letting go is an integral part of the organizing work we do together, my client knew I’d appreciate the humor in this. And I did. We enjoyed a good laugh.

The other aspect is that sometimes, no matter how much we realize that we just don’t need it, we have a challenging time letting go. Have you ever experienced that? In other instances, we don’t take the time to ask the questions, or the extraneous becomes invisible. But in the case of this box of string, the thought process was there and a conclusion was made that it wasn’t useful. However, the string was still kept. Interesting, isn’t it?

As we are at the beginning of the new year, which is a time of opportunity, newness, and fresh starts, I encourage you to take a look at your “pieces of string that are too small to save.” It's time to make the invisible, visible and ask some questions.


  • What are you holding onto that no longer serves a purpose?


Come join the conversation. I invite you to share your thoughts.

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Reader Comments (11)

I think about the time and energy we use in even considering what is useful, how carefully we consider our stuff as we declutter, and how important it is to be good stewards of even the smallest amount. Perhaps its in our biology? It's is something each of us works through. Thanks for bringing this into our conversation.

January 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

Ellen- That's an interesting point you bring up about the "time and energy we use in even considering what is useful." It almost makes the case for not having it in the first place. I've been reading Joshua Becker's ideas about minimalism. He'll be our "Ask the Expert" guest next week. I know you'll enjoy what he has to say. Your point ties in well with what he talks about.

January 21, 2014 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I live in a very small house, and for that reason our storage space in closets and cabinets are very defined. On a monthly basis I use to look around house checking that nothing is overflowing from drawers, closets, pantry, shelves, etc. and take things out that no longer need or find pretty, useful or keep worthy. In some cases there are things always make me think "oh I don't need this anymore but I'll give it a chance and keep it for a little longer" I suppose there's an attachment to it and makes harder to get rid of that things. But the time I give to those things usually helps to make my mind and finally take those out of the house and find a new place for them, because I like to sell things for a little amount of money or pass them to somebody could give a good use of that, people in need, charities, etc.
So I think all of us have that box (not literal) in some place of our home. We just need to make peace with our memories and give them wings to fly away.
Nice post.

January 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNacho Eguiarte

We made this a question around the New Year's Eve table this year… "What should you get rid of this year (but probably won't)?" Putting that little tag at the end made everyone feel comfortable talking about what they have trouble shedding. Funny thing, when we moved on to New Year's Resolutions, 2 people opted to get rid of the item that had come up over dinner. I guess we'll see next year whether they followed through!

January 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

@Nacho- It's so true that sometimes we need to hold on just a little bit longer before we're ready to "give them wings to fly away." Judith Kolberg talks about having a "ripening drawer" for exactly those types of items…the ones we're not ready to part with yet. Sometimes the time spent "waiting" provides enough distance to allow us to let go.

@Seana- What a great question…especially the qualifier at the end. And how effective that it helped people then define their New Year's Resolutions. Sounds like a great blog post for you to follow through with next year…checking in with your friends. If it worked, then perhaps you've discovered a "magic" question. Keep me posted.

January 21, 2014 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Linda, your comment "Sometimes the time spent "waiting" provides enough distance to allow us to let go, " is spot on. As they say, "time" is a healer, but it is also an viable sensor to gauge when we are ready to let go. We must continue to ask the questions periodically until we feel it. We know when we know, right? Whether it's a relationship or a thing, it's the "stepping away" that often provides the clarity.

January 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNancy Borg

Nancy- Ooooo. Love that phrase, "viable sensor!" Nice one. And you're so right that if we're able to listen, "we know when we know." Always love your additions to the conversation.

January 21, 2014 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I've been holding onto something for over 15 years that I felt I "should" be able to let go. I've even come close to it once or twice. But recently I've had a change of heart, and instead of being something I'm embarrassed to still own, I'm thinking of bringing it out and letting it have an important place in my life. Maybe...

January 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

Janet- Wow! Thank you for sharing this. It's always good to listen to those "shoulds." They are the indicators that can help us question what we really want (or don't want.) How apt that instead of letting your item go, you are thinking about letting it "have" a special place to be seen. When you're ready, would love to know the path you choose and what transpires.

January 22, 2014 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Two great coaching questions, Linda! Last year, I held tightly to the viewpoint that the advice I was giving my parents should be taken right away. I knew I was right so what was taking them so long to use my advice? And then I caught myself, being an expert instead of a coach and I let go. The emotion is what made it difficult to do the right thing. I let go of the need to be right, of the need to see my advice taken, of the need to protect, and to give back to them. I stood back and still gave advice, but let it fly away. A lot of advice did get used, just in its own time, a time that was comfortable for my parents. Some advice was not taken, but I let go of the outcome. It's their life, not mine. Interesting parallels to your string story.

January 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSue west

Sue- I relate so much to what you've shared here. Whether it's my parents, kids, friends, colleagues, or clients, "giving advice," seems to be something that comes up often. And why do we give it? Because we want only the best (as we see it) for them. But as you so honestly shared, "It's their life…" They will take it or leave it. Letting go of the outcome is a game changer. The best thing we can do is to help them ask the questions, support them in the discovery, and offer advice when appropriate. But in the end the power is in them taking ownership of the choice. Letting go happens when the time is right…be it string, outcomes, or anything else.

January 23, 2014 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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