Ready to clean up clutter? Here's how to let things go, even when you don't want to.
QUICK BUT IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE: Indecision is one of the ways in which we procrastinate and then getting organized never happens. There is a specific formula that will not only reverse this detrimental thought process but will stop the disorganization cycle altogether. With this specific formula, you will be able to get out of your own way and stop disorganization at the source...your mind.
BUT FIRST, here's a story of how I (me, a professional organizer) held on to something for a ridiculous amount of time for ridiculous reasons and how I finally moved past it.
You know you should get rid of it, but you just can't let it go. Someone special gave it to you or it was a lot of money or you just feel guilty about giving it away.
So you keep it. It takes up valuable space and collects dust. Every time you see it, you feel increasingly guilty, overwhelmed and just plain negative about it. You've got to get rid of it...but it's easier to walk away and just deal with it later.
It happens to the best of us, including me. I'll confess. I had 2 designer dresses in my closet for years that were never worn, and when I say years I mean a decade. Gasp!!!!
My aunt gave me these dresses and they are great. They're little black dresses, so they are timeless. Did I say that they're designer. They are designer! For me, that's a big deal. I don't own designer anything.
For a long time, they fit and they fit perfectly. However, the fact was that they were never my taste. Every time I went to my closet to put on a dress, they were glossed over for something that was more me. Every time I went through my closet in a decluttering session, I glossed over them since they were given to me and would never go out of style. This cycle went on for a decade...until I made a decision and boy did it feel good.
I tried the dresses back on, and they still fit but not like they used to. They looked okay on me but not great, and that was that. I knew I was never going to wear them, so away they went. I took them to a consignment shop (who absolutely loved them), and hopefully someone else will strut their stuff in them and bring them back to life.
Not only did I make room in my closet, but the associated negative feelings disappeared and I'm going to make some extra money. Wins all around!
The moral of the story is that we have too much stuff and sometimes we need to be ruthless to clean up clutter. I left that band aid on for 10 years, but ripping it off like a rock star felt amazing and you can do it too.
Here are 3 ways to clean up clutter, even when you don't want to let go.
The first solution to clean up clutter when you have hit a wall of indecision is to create a "maybe" box. Put the items that you're not sure about keeping in the maybe box and label it as such. Revisit the box in 6 months or 1 year or whatever is appropriate based on the contents.
Now this is important: put a reminder on your to do list or calendar or both to actually revisit the maybe box. If you don't, then you'll forget that it's there and it just becomes clutter in another part of your house. And that's not decluttering at all. That's shuffling.
The maybe box is great for clothing and accessories that you don't wear. If you haven't even thought of or missed the items you put in the maybe box in 6 months to a year, then go ahead and donate the whole thing.
The same holds true for toys. Gather the toys that you think you're kids are done playing with or have outgrown, and put them in a maybe box. If they don't ask for the toy in 6 months to a year, then give it all to charity.
Quick side note: Ask your kids to participate in this process when they are old enough (starting around age 8), so that they become familiar with decluttering and donating to good causes.
The next solution I have for you to clean up clutter is a GREAT one for things like memorabilia.
Let's say that you have some posters. They are not framed; they are not on your wall. No. They are rolled up with torn edges sitting in the corner of a closet taking up valuable space, but you can't get rid of them. They are memories.
Every time you take a look at them (because you keep forgetting what the rolled up things in the corner of your closet are), you remember something of the time when they were treasured art on your wall. You can't throw that away, because it feels like you're throwing away the memory or the emotion that goes along with it.
But...they are completely worn out. The edges are torn, the white has faded to an almost yellow, they are in bad shape. You know it's silly if you keep them, so what to do?
The answer: take a good photo of each of them.
Eureka! Now you can keep the memory (and print it out if you want something to hold or look at regularly), AND you can discard the clutter.
This is a wonderful solution for large, oddly-shaped items that don't really get used and are taking up valuable space like memorabilia and toys.
The last solution I've got for you to clean up clutter is more of a mindset shift, but it can definitely help with letting things go.
There have been many occasions in which I would be assisting a client in decluttering their belongings, and we'd come across something that they could not part with. They knew that it wasn't being used, they knew they didn't need it, they knew that it was just collecting dust, they knew that there was no rational reason for keeping it.
It was the emotions that were getting in the way. It was the guilt, because so and so gave it to them or the high ticket price of the item or what have you.
Thus, I would approach the situation with a different perspective:
Right now, the item isn't being used. It hasn't been used in a long time. If you give it away, then it will go to someone who will actually use it. It will be appreciated and make someone's life better. I think that is a better use of the money that was spent to purchase it OR the person that gave it to you would be happier knowing it is being used.
So...in reality, giving the item away isn't the waste. The waste is keeping it. AND, when you give it away, you'll also be shedding yourself of the guilt and negative feelings that go along with it.
Thus, giving the item a new owner is a win for you, a win for the item and win for the person who gets it. How can you argue with that?!
**AND if you want more ways to let go of clutter that involve overcoming your mind's chatter (like "But this was so expensive!" or "Someone special gave this to me!"), then check out Why Letting Go Of Clutter Will Free Your Soul.**