Top Ten Things Never to Throw Away When Organizing

Top Ten Things Not to Do


The inspiration for this list is wondering how come we hang onto things in case they may come in useful someday. This list tries to understand the motivation for holding onto items that may be past their point of usefulness.

10 When organizing, do not throw away that eight-track cassette player.  If you do, at best you’ll hate yourself in the morning. At worst, you’ll see that very same model for sale on E-Bay, and the last bid is $10,000. (Well that will teach you to be impetuous after twenty-five years of storage, huh Eric?)

9 When organizing, do not throw away that autographed photo of Tiny the WWF champ. If you do, at best it will be well hidden in a black plastic bag. At worst, Tiny just started as your garbologist after being released from self-esteem therapy and discovers the photo at the bottom of your trash can. (I’ll bet you can guess why he is pounding on your front door can’t you, Emmanuel? Here is a hint. Grab those running shoes and head out the back door. Your house and belongings can be replaced.)

8 When organizing, do not throw away that hand knit Christmas turtleneck sweater Aunt Helen gave you when you were thirteen. If you do, at best no one will know. At worst, you realize your mistake at the reading of Aunt Helen’s will where she leaves you her entire fortune if you wear the sweater once a week for a year. (Looks like she suspected you didn’t like it, Edward. Too bad you tossed it last week.)

7 When organizing, do not throw away those naked pictures of you at the beach. If you do, at best you shredded them first. At worst, you suddenly discover them on Tumblr on a site called, “Naked and Crazy.” (Better think of a good story, Elias since HR wants to talk to you about a “morals clause” violation in your employment contract.)

6 When organizing, do not throw away old tax records. If you do, at best your town’s dump is very secure. At worst, you realize when you are shopping at the food store, and your card is denied that you no longer are the only person with your social security number. (Looks like those stocks, bonds, and bank accounts are gone too, Eugene. Looks like you need to call the police.)

5 When organizing, do not throw away all your children’s school drawings and report cards. If you do, at best they won’t care. At worst, your children will want those items to relive their experiences with their kids. (Now what are you going to do, Erik? I suppose you could try to recreate the drawings from memory. Naw better yet ask the neighbor if you can borrow theirs.)

4 When organizing, do not throw away that old portable TV. If you do, at best you’ll never miss it. At worst, you’ll need it to see the last half of the Final Four Championship game since your internet and cell service went down. (Now aren’t you sorry you relied on twenty-first-century technology, Enzo? Just think you could have seen the game finish on that twentieth-century set with the rabbit ears. Now you have to wait to read the news.)

3 When organizing, do not throw away that almost new tire that you had to take off your 1978 Chevrolet to replace the front two. If you do, at best your current car has bigger wheels. At worst, you will have a blow out on your new vehicle which has no spare. (See, you could have at least used that tire as a temporary solution, Earl. Well maybe not.)

2 When organizing, do not throw away that power tool that quit working twelve years ago. If you do, at best your new device keeps working. At worst, your new gadget needs a small clip that broke which is unavailable at the parts store and was intact on the one you threw away. (Come on Emiliano this would never happen in a million years.)

1 When organizing, do not throw away those worn out shoes. If you do, at best you’ll enjoy the closet space. At worst, once they are gone, you realize you have nothing to wear to mow the lawn and work in the garden once that pair of old shoes wears out. (Well now, Elvin you have a triage problem on your remaining shoes. I know there are some favorites in there, but you gotta make a choice.)


  1. In other words, don’t throw anything out! Number seven…LOL! Happy Monday, John.

    1. i think that’s the lesson here. Thanks, Jill. 😀

  2. Good point. When I organize – I regret throwing away anything!!

    1. You are like me for sure. 😀

  3. #7 is a great warning. Best to solve the problem with fire.

    1. Ha haha. Good idea, Thanks, Charles.

  4. Great list John! And I would NEVER throw away an autographed photo of Tiny, lol!

    1. He would know. 😀

  5. I lost count, John. Between “yes, I do that” and “ugh, I wish I ad done that.” This one hit too close to home. Let’s just hope I didn’t offend Tiny.

    1. He will forgive anyone who offers a grand slam breakfast. 😀

      1. Then we’re good. I can always find someone who’s serving one of those.

  6. I used to worry about #8 – but now we don’t live near family, so it’s not a problem.

    1. Good thing I’ll bet. Thanks, Teri.

  7. Another winner, John! Love the portrait of Tiny. Ha!!

    1. He’s a pistol alright. Thank you, Jennie.

      1. You’re welcome, John. Top Ten is a great way to start off the week.

      2. Always nice to hear, Jennie. Thank you.

      3. You’re welcome!

  8. Gwen Plano · ·

    Aunt Helen is quite the character. I bet she didn’t have a fortune and just wanted to scare them. The last laugh, maybe? 😀

  9. Thanks for the Monday morning giggles, John! 🙂

    1. You are welcome, Natalie. Thanks for saying so.

  10. Mary Adler · ·

    I’ll have to read your list to Richard when he asks about our storage space. And garage. And book shelves. And garden shed. Sigh. Thanks for the lighthearted start to the day, John.

    1. He is following my advice. 😀

  11. Are you encouraging us to become Hoarders, Mr. John? Great list!

  12. LMFAO That Meme is perfect. #4 would be a tragedy.

    1. So true. Thanks, Andrew.

  13. When organizing, do not throw away

    No, no, no. Throw it all away, for the love of God throw all of it away!!

    [uh sorry, just channeling some household issues]

    1. I get it. Thanks, Greg

  14. One of the best lists I’ve seen to date! I think we can all relate to many of these. Well-done, John!

  15. D.L Finn, Author · ·

    So very true, John! I can’t count the times I’ve thrown an item away I haven’t used in years to only to realize I needed it soon after:) I do enjoy my old tax stuff bon fires though…

    1. Tax bon fires after seven years I hope

      1. D.L Finn, Author · ·

        Usually wait longer than seven, but it is a satisfying fire I must admit…lol

      2. I’ll bet. We use a shredder.

  16. And this is exactly why there are hoarders, right?! Some folks just can’t bear to toss anything out — perhaps because they’ve learned the hard way that, the minute it’s gone, they’ll suddenly need it!

    1. I think you are right.

  17. Great list! Maybe I should reconsider my stack of stuff for Goodwill!

    1. Naw. Give it all away

  18. As always, a good list. Each of us go through times when purging is the goal. … and every once is a while I will see my donated items at a Goodwill store. … but I’ve never bought it back!

    1. I can imagine what you are doing in the Goodwill store.

      1. Looking for my stuff!

      2. Makes sense. 😀

  19. Sigh! But … but … living in chaos is my comfort zone. That drink coaster I snaffled from the Sammy Davis Jnr concert at the Hilton in 1979 is totally significant. I kid you not. 🤭

    1. I can understand. How about that Aladdin ash tray?

      1. 😀 Tiny gave me the Aladdin ashtray for the twentieth anniversary of the first time we were both arrested together. It has great sentimental value.

      2. Sounds like a relationship to cherish. 😀

  20. I still remember the time I tossed the three-foot stack of unread “New Yorker” magazines. It was one of the most satisfying experiences of my life. Next to go were all the “good” cardboard boxes. I will admit I felt my mother’s ghost hovering disapprovingly at that point.

    1. Yes, the ghost would be displeased. I moved 11 times in twelve years and on the last move I tossed any box that had a move #1 sticker on it with out looking inside. Thanks, Linda.

  21. Does this apply when organizing ones mind, as well?
    Missed reading you, John. (Dad has a brand new kind of cancer. I’ll be around best I can. )

    1. He is on my prayer list with you. Hugs.

  22. Reblogged this on Author Don Massenzio and commented:
    Check out the latest top ten list from John Howell’s Fiction Favorites blog. This one features the top ten things never to throw away when organizing.

  23. Good rule! If it’s paper shred it! That’s my motto around here anyway.
    I’ve thrown out an old pair of shoes that in retrospect wished I’d kept for gardening in.

    1. Me too. Thanks for reminding me, Deborah.

  24. My brother got his own place and Mum tried to get him to take all of his books, throphies, childhood reports and records, board games etc. He doesn’t want to store them but he doesn’t want her to get rid 😁 house of horders.

    1. This is why people rent sheds.

  25. Well done, John. #5 made me smile because I keep a lot of my kids’ school work. Although years ago, I think they went through their own stuff and tossed a bunch. I still have their report cards, though, and a box of their cutest outfits. 🙂

    1. So hard to throw away.

  26. How lovely of Aunt Helen to knit you a sweater for Christmas!!!

    1. Ha ha ha. Thank you, Gail. In retrospect, it was a lovely act. She left half a billion to her dog.

      1. High five Auntie Helen haha!

  27. Oooh, I am very good at this, John. Have a fit of throw everything out and then realise it was a bad idea because I need it for something.

    1. I think we all have the same curse. Thanks, Robbie.

  28. You only have to look at programmes like The Antiques Roadshow to see just how dumb it is to throw something out, John. I wish I’d kept my (still in the box) trainset from when I was a child, as well as some of those first released games for the PlayStation (which would now buy me at least 10 PlayStations).

    1. I know what you mean. I have the original Mario cart with original Nintendo. Still works.

      1. Do you still play it?

      2. Yes. Grandkids love it and 27 year old daughter is a whiz.

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