I’ve noticed a curious thing when I work with clients who hold on to unread magazines and newspapers for months, sometimes years. These folks get very emotional when you try to convince them that they should let these old periodicals go. They panic at the thought of letting the stories leave their home unread.
I call these people “information hoarders”. Once information comes through the front door, it can’t leave unless it has been read. It doesn’t matter how old the periodical is. There is still information there, information that the owner perceives as valuable.
I sometimes use my “Steal That Pile” technique. (See my previous organizing tip of that name.) I ask my clients how they would feel if someone broke into their home and stole nothing but that pile of reading material. The response, 99% of the time, is the same exact word: “Relieved.” For those people, I urge them to pretend to be a thief and to steal that pile all the way to the recycling bin.
But for some die-hards, that technique doesn’t work. Today, I asked my client a new question when she was having trouble parting with an old magazine that she had not yet read. The cover article that was giving her pause was about how to get sleek arms and abs. I asked, “Do you truly believe that the information in this magazine has the power to change your life?”
The people who produce and market magazines would like you to think so. Next time you are waiting on line at the supermarket, take a look at the magazines on display. The same topics are recycled over and over. Learn the secret to weight loss. Look ten years younger. Get the perfect body effortlessly. Have a better sex life.
By a certain age, most of us have already figured out that the key to happiness is unlikely to be learned from a magazine article. Luckily there are always new generations of magazine buyers growing up who don’t know that yet.
If you enjoy reading magazines and newspapers, then go ahead. (I do.) Just make sure they don’t pile up. If they do, and you find it hard to get rid of them, ask yourself if you may have unrealistic expectations of a mass-produced commodity that was created on a deadline.