As we age, we tend to accumulate more and more stuff: clothes, books, gifts, gadgets, papers, home decor, etc. And over time, even small and insignificant items can take on great meaning simply because of the fact that you’ve kept them in your home for so many years. This makes it harder to let go of things, even when we know we must for the sake of our homes and our sanity. If your house is filled to the brim with things you don’t need and rarely use, or perhaps you’re planning to move to a smaller home soon, use the tips below to learn how to let go of clutter.
How to Let Go of Clutter
We know how hard it is to part with your belongings. No matter how many times you remind yourself that it’s just “stuff,” it can be emotionally overwhelming to give away items you once adored. If you’re struggling to move forward in the process, take a moment to learn how to let go of clutter. With some practice and the right mindset, you might even come to enjoy donating items you no longer need.
Take Photos to Preserve the Memory
Especially as we age, it’s tempting to keep any item that elicits nostalgia. But is it really worth it to keep an item just for nostalgia’s sake? Even if you only look at it once every few years? Probably not. Donate the item, but before you do, take a photo of it to preserve the memory. When you’re finished decluttering, consider making a photo album with all these memory-inducing photos (companies like Shutterfly make this incredibly easy). You could even write a few sentences about each item’s importance and any details you want to remember.
If You Haven’t Used an Item in a Year, Get Rid of It
It’s very easy to justify why you need to keep something, and one of the most common excuses is “I might need it in the future.” This is a dangerous justification because it suits virtually every item, even things you haven’t touched in decades. So if you find yourself using this excuse, stop and seriously think about how often you use the item. If you haven’t used it in over a year, you should probably get rid of it. Remember that you can always borrow or rent a similar item in the future. Or if you really do need the item in the years to come, you can repurchase it.
Get Over Your Guilt
Another common excuse for keeping clutter is that the item in question was a gift from a loved one. You might worry that your loved one will notice the item’s absence and be upset. In reality, it’s very rare for someone to notice this, especially when years have passed. And if you keep a gift from a friend shoved in a closet or sitting beneath a layer of dust, consider that it would be kinder to put the gift in the hands of someone who would truly appreciate it and use it. What a wonderful way to honor your loved one, by passing the gift onto someone else.
Assess the Item’s Financial Worth
Another popular defense for holding on to something? I paid a lot for this. Knowing that you once shelled out a relatively significant amount of money for an item, it can be difficult to bid it adieu. If this is the case, first consider how much the item is actually worth now. Just because you spent a lot on it 10 years ago, that doesn’t mean it’s worth anything today. Second, consider reselling it if it’s actually worth something. You could find a seller for it using eBay or Craigslist. Third, think about how wonderful it will be to free up some space in your home and finally get rid of this item you no longer use. What is that freedom worth to you?
Embrace Your True Self
We often purchase things that we hope we’ll use someday. For example, you might have purchased a collection of books you thought you’d read, canvases you thought you’d paint, or golf clubs you thought you’d play a few rounds with each weekend. But if it’s been years and the items are rarely used, accept that you’re not a big reader or painter or golfer. And that’s okay! Embrace your true self and donate these items to someone who will use them and love them.
If you’ve recently gotten rid of some clutter, give yourself a pat on the back! Enjoy your new streamlined, clutter-free life.
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