Day 2: Set Up Your Outbox

Day 2: Set Up Your Outbox

Janel Laban
Jan 3, 2013

Day 2: Thursday, January 3
Assignment: Set Up an Outbox and Place One Item in It

Ok, this day is KEY to the success of your Cure...and it's easy! The outbox is one of the Apartment Therapy classic "big ideas", central to The Cure and, to my mind, one of Maxwell's most brilliant, you-really-can-do-this concepts. It's not easy to get rid of stuff. We have emotional and financial connections to things and breaking that hold is a challenge, but the outbox makes it do-able and really, truly, it gets easier each time you use it. Let's break it down...

Here is the Outbox concept in Maxwell's own words:

Choose a space that is clearly defined. This area should be out of the way of daily activities and be a place you can comfortably allow to get messy and chaotic for a short while. A closet or guest room is perfect for this, but any small area or corner near your front door will do. Designate this your Outbox. The Outbox is not garbage, nor does it need to be an actual box; it is a halfway house where things sit while their fate is being decided. You should never be afraid to put something in the Outbox.

Once an item has sat in the Outbox for some time, it releases its hold over the owner and becomes just and ordinary object that one can easily decide what to do with. One client compared it to the phenomenon children experience when they fall in love with a rock that is wet or under water. Later, when the rock has dried off and is no longer shiny, it becomes just a plain old rock again and the child's attachment to is suddenly lessens.

As simple as it is, the Outbox has proven to be extremely successful in allowing people to clear out and heal their homes efficiently on a regular basis.


1. Anything can go in the Outbox
2. The Outbox is allowed to get messy
3. Everything must stay in the Outbox for at least one week
4. After that time you have several choices
a. Take anything back out
b. Leave anything you are undecided about for one more week
c. Dispose of the rest by moving to the garbage, recycling bin, or giveaway pile

Once you get used to separating first and disposing of later, you'll find that clearing clutter gets easier and easier.

Go for it.

Today's Assignment:

• Set up your outbox as per Maxwell's guidelines above and put one thing "in" it. See? Not so bad!

We'll be prompting you to use the outbox throughout the Cure and will give you a date to "empty" it. No need to worry about any of that yet. For now, just get your outbox set and feel good about putting that that first item in it, knowing that you are well on your way to letting go of things you don't need.

Helpful Links:
9 Tips To Help You Identify Clutter
10 Things We Should Have Gotten Rid of a Long Time Ago
Good Questions: How to Deal with Purging Remorse?

Liveblogging the January Cure:
Day 2: Outbox it!

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(Image: Bethany Nauert / Laura & Megan's Bright Vintage Inspired Apartment)

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