Why “just in case” is a dead end phrase

As a professional organizer for the past 20+ years, I have come to expect to hear certain words and phrases from clients as we start the purging process and the work of lightening their load.  Phrases like “I can’t get rid of that because it was a gift”, or “I might need that” are said often at first, along with the seemingly justifiable phrase that comes along right after I ask, “Why are you keeping that”?

The answer?

Just in case.

Purging is integral to any organizing endeavor. It’s the physical act of letting go of things that no longer (or perhaps never did) serve a purpose in your life or your space. And the mere thought of purging conjures up a ton of fear which is why we quickly want to justify why we must keep things.  Just in case, it sounds reasonable.

Often we are purging, decluttering, and letting go of years of “stuff” that would have to have some meaning – given that we kept it along for so long. But over time, much of what we keep loses its purpose.  And as such, it does not serve our overall plan of how we want to feel in our space.

Knowing how you want to feel in your space is important if you want to contend with clutter. When we’re clear on how we want the space to look and feel, we start to see more clearly, and honestly, not only what doesn’t fit the plan, but why.


Think about what is in the back of your closet, the attic, in the junk drawers, or the top shelf of your pantry. We all have purge-able items in our homes that aren’t in our faces enough for us to feel they need addressing. There are some items that are always in the way but we ignore them often because dealing with them feels too time-consuming (which is code for “I don’t know what to do with said item!”).

When we decide to lighten the load so we can live life with more freedom those items aren’t easily ignored.  But it doesn’t make uttering the dead-end phrase “just in case” any less tempting.

Just in case what?

The answer to that never comes to fruition.  We need to realize that just in case, like other statements that get in the way of the purge, is a statement born out of fear — fear of letting go, not having enough, not being ready.  That is why we say it.

It is a dead-end phrase that will always equal never unless you push yourself through the fears.

And that is part of why purging is so difficult. You must consciously let go in the face of fear and dig for the “why” behind what you are keeping.  Just in case, it sounds like a good answer but it is just more of an excuse to appease your fear.

We have to trust that we have a better answer, can meet the challenge of making a decision, and hold off on saying

“I’m going to keep this…just in case”.

When you have asked yourself all the necessary questions to determine if something is worthy of keeping, and still come up ambivalent, that is an indication you probably need to do that scary work of letting it go.

just in case

Fear is not the enemy.

It’s the clue. It’s the indication that it is time to act.

The next time you justify keeping something “just in case”, ask yourself what that means. Question your motives.

Be conscious of what you own, and why. Make sure what you keep does its job of beautifying your life and your space.

Otherwise, it’ll likely lead you down a dead-end road.

Let me help you lighten your load, and get organized in the process.

Showing 2 comments
  • Rosemry Verri

    “just in case” omg what a sentence. You are so right! Can’t wait for the new online program. Guidance! Decluttering and organizing is tough. It requires a focused mind. We need guidance.

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