Do you get overwhelmed by the idea of decluttering? Do you find it difficult to purge personal belongings—even when you really want to clean up and organize? That’s because for some people, decluttering is more than just an organizational task—it can become an emotional one.
I hear several common excuses for not decluttering, and when I hear them, it’s immediately obvious that the declutterer-in-question needs a little emotional and mental prepping to get them in the right mindset.
But it was a present!
When someone gives you a gift, their intention is to provide a token of affection. They want to delight you, not to burden you down with objects that you might not love, that you then need to keep around you for the rest of your life. By all means, give your gifter an appreciative thank-you, but if you feel that deep-down nagging that you don’t really love it, then return it, re-gift it, or donate it to someone who will really appreciate it.
What if I need it later?
This one is common when two households merge into one. Suddenly, it seems prudent to hold on to that second potato masher or toaster oven for the day when something happens to the first one. Lots of people have these tendencies, because they were taught “waste not, want not” by earlier generations that lived through hard times – resulting in a new generation of people who think that the broom closet was meant for filling to the brim with plastic grocery bags.
The truth is, we live in a time of abundance, and goods are way more inexpensive than they ever were in the past. Having a surplus in our homes at this point is counterproductive – our spaces were never intended to house that many grocery bags or an entire second appliance store in the basement or attic.
Donate all your extras, and cross that bridge of replacing something when you need to. As for the grocery bags, stash just enough for a month-or-so supply of whatever you re-use them for, and recycle the rest! (And get some reusable grocery totes, while you’re at it!)
But there just *so much stuff* to get through!
I know, I know, but Rome wasn’t built in a day! Don’t see it as a failure if you can’t transform your closet from Oscar the Grouch to Carrie Bradshaw overnight. Start small and work in manageable chunks. Pick one area, say, jeans, and do an honest assessment of all your current pairs. Once you finish, you can decide to continue on to another category, or quit for the day and pick it up later.
What if I regret giving something away?
I have a great trick to handle this apprehension—it’s the limbo box! Give yourself a nice big box or basket that you’ll store in an out-of-the-way place (out of sight, out of mind). Anything you’re unsure of, store it in there. Reassess in 3 to 6 months. If you’ve needed or missed an item in there, you’ve probably already fished it out. But if you haven’t thought about that stuff, it’s time to give it away.
But the memories!
It’s time to separate memories from things. A big box of ticket stubs and Playbills that you haven’t sorted in ages will only become more annoying as time goes on, not less. Honor your memories! Take digital pics of ephemera, journal about them, post them on social media, or create a shadow box or frame a piece or two of really beloved pieces so that you can hang them out in the open and really appreciate them regularly, unlike a jumble crammed into a box that you rifle through once a decade. Then, move the rest of the items along.
And hey! The bonus is that the less clutter you have, the easier your home is to clean. Happy decluttering!