When it comes to organizing, getting rid of “clutter” is both one of the most essential and the hardest parts. I hear from so many of you who struggle with deciding what to keep, what to toss, and coming up with the motivation to get it all done! I hear you. I’ve been there. It can be hard, and it definitely takes some practice, but you can do it. I think the first step is to recognize that we usually find it difficult not so much because of the physical work involved but because of the mental strain involved with making so many decisions.
First, let’s list why you should declutter:
- Once you get rid of something, you never ever have to touch it, clean it, dust it, move it, look at it, or organize it again.
- It’s completely free!
- Any organizing project will be much easier once you are rid of the things you don’t need, use, or love.
- You can often bless others with the things you don’t use anymore.
- It is so mentally freeing.
- You can find the things you do need, use, and love so much easier with all the clutter out of the way.
Therefore, I think getting rid of the things you don’t need should be the starting point for any organizing project. When considering whether to toss or keep any item, you should consider these questions:
- Do I use it regularly?
- Do I love it?
- Do I have a specific planned use for it?
- What would be the worst case scenario if I got rid of it?
- Do I have the space to store it?
I’ve created a pretty printable for you to download and print to help you with these questions as you declutter. Just click the image below to download it:
That’s really all you need to ask. If you don’t use it or love it, then it needs to go. This is really just making room for the things that you do use and love. Imagine if you were surrounded only by things that you use regularly or really make you smile. So, why is it so difficult? Those questions are fairly common sense, really. Here are the common objections to getting rid of things and what to do about them:
- Sentimental Clutter: These are things we are tempted to hang onto because someone special gave them to us, because they remind of something special, or just because we feel like we should. I’m not opposed to some sentiment, but if we hang onto everything, it loses it’s value. If someone gave you something that you don’t need, it won’t do them one bit of good for you to keep storing it. Better to appreciate the thought behind the gift, and pass it on to someone who will use it. For items that trigger memories, consider keeping and displaying just a few items, then photographing the rest. A photo takes up less space, but lets you keep the memory.
- Aspirational Clutter: These are things we wish we used on a regular basis, but we don’t. This would be things like scrapbooking materials for the scrapbooks you plan to create “someday” or exercise equipment that you haven’t touched. These are emotionally difficult to part with, because we have to face the fact that we aren’t going to complete those scrapbooks or that we don’t exercise regularly. However, facing these things can be incredibly freeing! I recently got rid of all my rubber stamping supplies. I used to enjoy making cards. I wish I had time to regularly make cards, but I don’t. All my free time and creative energy is spent on the blog and Etsy shop, so I needed to part with some other hobby items. I honestly just felt free after I got rid of those things. I no longer had to feel guilty for not using those items, and I’m sure someone else can enjoy them.
- Expensive Clutter: It’s hard to get rid of things that cost us a lot of money. However, even if something was expensive, but we’re not using it, then getting rid of it is simply admitting the truth. It was already a bad purchase. Getting rid of it won’t change that.
- I Might Use This Someday Clutter: There are many items we have that we might possibly use someday. Don’t keep those things!! Yes, there could be a situation in 5 years where I would need the 12 three ring binders from my college days, but it’s not worth the cost of storing them all those years. If I really need them, I’ll just purchase new ones. Ninety percent of the time, you will never actually use those things. It’s worth the small cost for the ten percent of things you would have been able to use. Also, if you keep everything you might use someday, you may not be able to find what you need when you need it and be forced to repurchase it anyway.
What type of clutter is the biggest challenge for you? Did I miss any categories that are challenging?