Are you a keeper or thrower?


Having been in the same office for at least 10 years, I moved my office this week to another floor. Moving is always a time to take stock of what you have and to decide what is not coming with you. Here are some of the things I examined this week

  • A run of a journal since 1990 (plus runs of other journals and magazines)
  • Books used in my MA and PsyD degrees and books bought a long time ago
  • Folders of papers, notes, and articles read during seminary years and PsyD years
  • Stacks of articles I intend to read
  • Folders from the first years I taught some of my current courses
  • Contracts from previous years
  • Paper clips (of all sizes and shapes and colors)
  • Empty 3 ring binders
  • Floppy disks (the 3.5 in kind)
  • Cassette tapes of talks I did in the 90s
  • Cassette tape player
  • VHS clips I used when I first started teaching

Okay, you can get the picture that I am one to file (sort of!) but not throw. You never know when that book, “Correlative Neuroanatomy” might come in handy. Or that book on Buddhism I read during a social psych class. I have all the research articles I read during Sally Schwer Canning’s Child Psychotherapy class (loved it but did she make us work!) so I could write a lit review about parent training programs. I found my first paper written during my doctoral program with Stan Jones red pen marks from cover to back page (best writing help I ever got!). I even had 3 floppy copies of my dissertation AND all of the raw empirical data in a box.

After ditching 3 large barrels worth of stuff (cassette tapes, contracts, files and files from old courses, magazines, books no one should read), donating books and journals to others, I’m contemplating why I kept this stuff in the first place.

Why do we keep things we never use?

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4 Comments

Filed under habits

4 responses to “Are you a keeper or thrower?

  1. Security, connection with the past.:)

  2. Maybe now in the digital age of the search engine we have less and less need to keep. Yet the world changes so rapidly we do risk losing things. However maybe it is better to lose them than to keep things around in a box for a rainy day that never seems to arrive!

    • I find it helpful that the digital age makes it easier to get rid of stuff. I can scan in documents or papers and then throw away the originals. That way if I do need it, it’s still there, but it’s not taking up any space. Especially nice for moving.

      Of course, that does create the same problem on the digital frontier when you’ve got a hard drive full of stuff you’re never going to look at again.

  3. D. Stevenson

    Barrels? I think of the barrels that my parents used to pack when we went overseas.

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