Week 14 of the Clever Girl Organizing Challenge: Hobbies, Sports and Fitness

We are in the FINAL 3 weeks of The Clever Girl Organizing Challenge for 2016!  This particular week is the last one before we move into paper and digital management. We’re looking at some of the last sets of collections that you might find in your home — in spare rooms, craft rooms, basements, garages, etc. We’re going to work on the equipment, materials, gear and accessories related to our hobbies and fitness or sports activities.  Let’s get to it! 


16 challenge

Week 14:  Hobbies, Sports and Fitness

Level 1 Challenge: Hobbies. The first level this week is about our hobbies. Hobbies can be any kind of activity — creating or collecting or tinkering or pursuing curiosity — that we invest our time, money and energy into, developing a specialty that we enjoy or believe others will. While it may generate some money here and there, for the most part, we do it as a pastime, not as a income-bearing pillar of our lives. 

Hobbies are tough, because they represent how we do, or once did, represent what we’d like to do with leisure time, and we don’t all have the time we once did to dedicate to it.  It can also represent a lot of investment over time of supplies or materials that we’d incorporate into it. It can stand for the way we THINK we’d want to spend our free time, if we had a choice. It can be something that we began when we were at a different stage in our life, with different interests, but the investment in space and money and stuff can feel too big to just let go, even though we’re not as interested in it as we once were.

How to tackle this one:  There’s a good chance that your hobby items are in one space or in relative proximity to each other.  So, the gathering part may not be such a problem with this one. 

Our goal here is going to be three-fold:

1) Determine if this hobby is one that absolutely still holds the same place in our life as we once thought it was, in our CURRENT life, not our hypothetical “maybe someday” life.

2) Make critical decisions about what we’ll keep (because even if we’re still committed to the hobby, that doesn’t mean that all we’ve collected over the years is still valuable for our pursuits today)

3) Organize what we’ve decided to keep, and dispose of what we’ve decided we can let go of. 

When you’re looking at your full collection, you may be overwhelmed by the full set of it all.  It requires some categorizing and some prioritizing in order to determine what’s working for you today, and what isn’t. Where to start? Answer this question: 

“If you were told you have to spend one whole day working on your hobby with the supplies you have here, what would you choose to do first?
And what would you choose to do last?” 

Remember, we want to be constantly thinking critically about why we are KEEPING something, not just accepting the status quo of “it isn’t causing a problem, so there is no need to get rid of it”.  We’re working through ACTIVELY creating space for the items of value, not just going along with the momentum of what we’ve always had.  Some questions to help you think through these items: 

  • Is this something I still use today?
  • If not, when is the last time I used it? 
  • Am I likely to use it again?
  • Is it still in fine condition and of use? 
  • Am I keeping it for sentimental reasons? If so, (a) do we have enough in the “sentimental” category and (b) is this the place we want to be storing items we don’t use regularly any more?
  • Am I keeping it because it represents the person i’d *like* to be, if my life were different than it is today? 
  • Am I keeping it because I think it says something about who I am, and I want others to feel a certain way about me? 
  • Will someone else use this or love this more than I am here today? 


Level 2 Challenge: Fitness and Sporting Goods.
This is anything that you use for athletic, exercise, leisure or outdoorsy activities. This can obviously cut across a wide spectrum of activities, from weight lifting to cycling to camping to golf to the treadmill in the basement and so on and so on.  You know what your faves are… In this challenge, we’re again looking at how we really spend our time, and the gear that’s associated with it. 

How to tackle this one:  This is another one that’s all about items we’ve collected over time, with decisions we’ve made that reflect the time in our life when it was made, maybe more than it reflects our life today. 

It can also be one of the biggest issues tied to our imaginary future: “I’m going to get in shape.” This makes it hard to think about letting go of, because we can feel it be a betrayal to the plans we say we have for our health and our overall fitness.  But we must remember that just OWNING these items doesn’t actually bring about fitness. This may be a challenge were you face the issues by setting yourself a time limit. “I’m going to keep one or a few of these items, and put them to work for me over the next month. If I haven’t used them (and are glad I am using them) in 30 days, then I’m letting them go.” 

Use the same questions of the Hobby challenge, above, to help you analyze and put things in perspective for your life today. 

FOR BOTH LEVELS:   What to do with what you’re letting go of:

  • Sell or Trade for Value — Is it in good enough condition that you could sell it? Maybe! Research first. But make a plan TODAY! Take that picture, find that online description to use, write the post and POST IT!  Get it out….  In addition to local options like online Facebook Yard Sale groups or actual yard sales in actual yards, and Craigslist or Ebay or Kijiji, consider some online specialty stores. 
  • Recycling and e-cycling — check with your town or city for what their options are for items you might have in these collections.
  • Free-cycle or give away items through craigslist or Facebook yard sale groups or at the swap station at your town. Take that picture, write that post and POST IT!
  • Donate — if it is in good working condition, but not worth selling, consider donating it.  Get it in the car TODAY or schedule that pick up TODAY!



How The Challenge Works:
As With Every Week, Your mission:

1) Take on Level 1, and if you’re feeling up to the challenge, Level 2. If you’ve already got those covered, identify a challenge for yourself that you know you should be tackling.

2) Whenever possible, take BEFORE and AFTER pictures. You don’t have to share them with anyone but yourself, but it is a fantastic way to (a) identify clutter that’s become invisible to you over time and (b) truly measure and appreciate your progress. 

3) We’re all about letting things go…  be critical about what you’re keeping and why you’re keeping it.  Always ask yourself these critical questions to help decide if you should hold onto items: 

  • Is using this item part of my current life or likely future?
  • If I didn’t have this item and needed it for some reason, is it easily replaced or borrowed?
  • Can someone else use this more than I seem to be using it now? 
  • Am I keeping it for a “maybe some day” or a “just in case” option? How likely is that situation? And am I keeping more in that category than I should, given the space constraints I have?
  • Is it part of my past, and holding onto it reminds me of a former self? And am I keeping more in that category than I should, given the space constraints I have?

4) Stay FOCUSED on this task.  Know what FINISHED looks like, and don’t get distracted by other projects or areas of attention that cross your path while you’re on this assignment.  

5) Have a plan on where things will go — give away to someone you know, donate, sell, recycle or trash.  This Challenge isn’t just about creating new piles that don’t have a future!

6) Work in manageable chunks of time and energy. It’s a marathon, not a sprint! 

7) Celebrate and reward yourself for a job well done!




  1. Psychic Nest

    Hi Kathy,

    I just finished reading the series of the organizing challenge and I found it extremely helpful for me and my work. Thank you so much!


    • clevergirlorg

      Glad to hear! Thanks for sharing!


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