Almost every home and office I work in has a problem with boxes and cords.

They take up a huge amount of room and are just never used again. It seems like it should be easy for people to let go. And yet.

When does this fear of getting rid of boxes first set in? I’m working on a theory that the understanding of the technology that comes in the box has something to do with it. Fear of letting go of excess cords and boxes can bring an organizing session to a halt. To keep moving forward, it is important to take a moment and think the problem through.

My clients say they might need to return the item someday. This attitude demonstrates a lack of trust in the product and their own ability to troubleshoot. If this is you, keep the box for 90 days, then let it go.

At first glance, cords seem to be valuable. In fact, most products come with extra cords because the manufacture doesn’t want to package different cords for different versions of the same product. Once you are up and running, you don’t need the other cords.

But I might need the cord someday, they say. Realistically, I ask, when was the last time you rewired your computer configuration for a dot matrix printer? Keep one extra version of each style and let go of the duplicates.

So, once you bring a new item home, unpack it, install it. If it works you can enjoy it, let go of the box and extra cords. Really. Let go. What’s the worst that can happen? A trip to the store for a box or cord is a small price to pay for all the valuable space you create.

This article originally appeared in Sage, November 2010.