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Do You Have a Personal Retention Pond?


We’ve all seen these retention ponds in housing developments, golf courses, or shopping centers. They are an artificial lake used to hold stormwater and other runoff. Unlike alternative methods for containing runoff, retention ponds are designed to hold a permanent pool of water.

Do you have a personal retention pond and if so, how much “stuff” do you have in your personal retention pond?


Where is your personal retention pond?


Your personal retention pond might be in a storage container, basement or attic, spare room, or scattered throughout your house.

This is where you store your items that are extra “just in case” items or other items that have come into your home that don’t have a permanent use or home and are stored in your retention pond “just for now.”


Are personal retention ponds ever beneficial?


At times these ponds can be helpful and beneficial. When my husband and I got married and combined households we both had a lot of yard and outdoor entertaining items, plus some sports equipment. He had a basement where he had been storing his stuff and I had a shed house. The new “our” house had neither. We contracted to have a shed house built but meanwhile we rented a storage area to store our items. When the shed was complete, we chose what items we wanted to keep and store there and donated the rest. We cancelled our rental storage unit.


There are times when you have a sudden influx of items that you want to take your time deciding what you want to keep, what you want to get rid of, and where you want items to go. This is where your pond comes in handy. It can be a place you have set aside for putting items “just for now”.


Your retention pond needs maintenance.


But to keep that pond from overflowing or becoming stagnant, you need to have a plan.


All ponds accumulate trash.


When you accumulate items that you aren’t currently using and store them in a holding place it can quickly become a gathering point for anything and everything that comes into the house that you either don’t know where it should go, or you don’t want to take the time to put the item in its correct location.


If a pond becomes too full it will flood.


When an area becomes too full it will begin to spread into other areas. Now you have a problem. Once the flood begins it is hard to manage.


This is why you need a plan.


A teacher who has just retired may bring home items from her classroom that she has accumulated over the years. These items are still useful for someone who is teaching. She might want to keep some for tutoring. She might want to find someone who will cherish them.


But once she has had her breathing moment of not going back to school, it is important that she brainstorms all that she wants to do to empty this storage spot. Breaking down the huge task of emptying the pond into doable segments is her first task. Then she needs to put dates on her calendar to make sure this happens. She might enlist help.


The same is true for someone who has just inherited a lot of stuff from a family member. They want to take time to look through the items and make decisions. This can take a while, especially if they are also grieving. The important thing is to develop a plan to handle all of the items in a timely manner.


Eventually everything you are keeping needs a reason to be in your home and a place to live. Anything you don’t need or want needs to leave your home as soon as a decision is made.


Your home is a refuge, not a storage unit. Regain your space and empty that pool as soon as you are able.



If you want help or just some accountability in organizing a space in your home or working any other organizational plan either outside or inside your home, join Diane Quintana and me on our Clear Space For You clutter support group.


Jonda S. Beattie, Professional Organizer owner of Time Space Organization, and co-owner of Release, Repurpose, Reorganize. She is based in the Metro-Atlanta area. As presenter, award-winning author, as well as a retired special education teacher she uses her listening skills, problem solving skills, knowledge of different learning techniques, ADHD specialty, and paper management skills to help clients tackle the toughest organizational issues. Jonda does hands on organizing and virtual organizing. For more of Jonda’s tips connect with her on Facebook.


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Julie Bestry
Julie Bestry
Aug 16, 2022

This is a great and vivid metaphor, and I think it will really help people identify the temporary nature of clutter runoff and the need to prevent a flood. I think this will especially appeal to the more creative clients and those who tend to practice "just for now" habits and don't get back to where they were. And now, when I drive or walk by a retaining pond, I will know that's what it's called!

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Janet Barclay
Janet Barclay
Aug 15, 2022

I love this! In our house, the sunroom (using the term loosely, as although it had windows and overlooked the backyard, it wasn't an inviting place to sit) at the back of the house was our retention pond (AKA dumping ground). Years later, when our youngest moved out of our apartment, his room filled that role. Although we emptied it out, it kept filling up again, but we're finally at the point where we can just let things go instead of keeping them around until we can't stand the mess anymore.

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Sara Skillen
Sara Skillen
Aug 15, 2022

What a perfect metaphor - the idea that it's ok to have a temporary place for our "runoff" is comforting, even as it's important to acknowledge that the pond has to be lowered or cleared from time to time to prevent "flooding." This idea is thought-provoking!

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Linda Samuels
Linda Samuels
Aug 15, 2022

I love this, Jonda! I have seen those water bodies/ponds, but I didn't know they had a name or purpose. Fascinating! We all have those spots which become holding places for items we might need or need to decide about. Your idea to attend to them is essential. Because as you suggested, without some maintenance, they will quickly overflow and possibly cause damage. The visual of the retention pond is helpful.

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smqorgadm
Aug 15, 2022

I love this post. I have very few areas that can easily be used for "extra" things. Our main retention pond is our garage. We are constantly reducing the stuff and getting them out of the home. Right now, we have unused college apartment stuff that my son isn't using any longer because he graduated last year.

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