You don’t move into a new house, apartment, or townhome that’s already cluttered. It happens over time, as we collect items and belongings. Even if you move into a home where someone else has been living and there is clutter, it didn’t happen overnight. The problem is that we humans are a sentimental bunch. We do things like keeping an old quilt that reminds you of your childhood home, and yet you never use it. Those old toys or gadgets that just sit around collecting dust. Even clothes, jackets, and accessories that you no longer rotate out of your wardrobe.
Just like life, clutter has a way of catching up with you. That’s exacerbated even more when you find a partner, start a life together, and maybe even have children. More stuff comes along with all these big changes, and that means more clutter. Did you know there are over 300,000 items in the average American home?
By now, you get it. Clutter happens. So, how can you mitigate it once and for all? What are some things that are definitely not worth keeping? How do you tell the difference between something that’s truly sentimental and has meaning, and something that is simply nostalgic?
- Your Memories Are Not Attached to Material Items
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that items – sentimental or not – hold the key to certain memories. Every time you look at something they come flooding back. Believe it or not, your brain is more powerful than that. You don’t actually need items to remember certain events, experiences, and memories.
Even when you do look at an item or material object and see the past, you’re seeing it because it’s stored in your brain not the item itself. Let go of your attachment to particular items and objects, and you’ll find it much easier to rid your life of clutter.
The average American tosses 65 pounds of clothing per year, either completely or through donations. That’s a lot of clothing and accessories going to waste. But it shows that people aren’t necessarily attached to material items and or objects, they’re willing to at least get rid of clothes. Why not expand that to include other clutter too?
- If You Don’t Use It, Lose It
Aside from decorations – which you likely cannot use in any capacity – you should make a point to get rid of anything you don’t use regularly. Look around you, if you see something nearby that you haven’t used in years, you need to start decluttering your home.
You don’t have to throw everything away, which admittedly can be worse than just letting it sit in your home. You can donate it to a charity or assistance organization. You could give it away to friends, family, colleagues, or even neighbors. You could sell it in a garage sale or online.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure it avoids taking the item outside your home, permanently. If you haven’t used something in years, you’re not going to use it anytime soon.
Here’s some food for thought, 25% of people with two-car garages don’t have room to park their vehicles inside, while 32% only have room for one vehicle. Why? Well, their garage – meant for parking vehicles – is being used to store junk, and or clutter. Instead of losing the stuff they don’t need, these people are storing it, in their garages no less.
- Only Keep What You Can’t Live Without
So, you’ve decided to toss some items. You’re going through a bin or a closet and you find several things you couldn’t remember before, but now they’re in front of you. You can’t throw them away, they mean so much.
Except, that’s wrong. You probably had no recollection of these items or belongings before you started sorting through your closet or bin. You had all but forgotten they exist. That’s a clear indication that you do not need them in your life. They might make you smile or feel good in the moment yes, but they have absolutely no bearing on the larger narrative.
When you’re faced with deciding to keep something or toss it, assess whether or not you can live without said item. If it’s gone, will you still be happy? Will it change your outlook on life, or how you feel about your home?
There are only a handful of items and objects in our lives that are so evocative, and those are the sentimental items you want to keep. Everything else is just clutter. As for the stuff you do decide to keep, the best family heirlooms you have, spend some time putting them on display around your home. If you cannot find a suitable place to display and show off said items, then there may not be a need to keep them in your life after all.
- What About Photos, Paperwork, Documents, Manuals, and Folders?
Nearly everyone has a junk drawer of some kind, where they toss unwanted mail – that still needs to be kept – items or even gadgets they may use occasionally. A lot of times the junk drawer will fill with paper goods and materials, stuff you don’t want to throw out. This could be receipts, tax documents, notices and letters, greeting cards, and much more.
Worse yet, is when you have entire bookshelves – or bins – filled with photo albums. Photos are extremely evocative and they open up past experiences best. Why throw any away?
Honestly, consider how often you actually look at those photos? How often do you rifle through your junk drawer for the documents and papers you kept? The really important stuff, yes, absolutely organize a folder for them and keep them stored in a desk or file cabinet. But we’re talking about tax documents, government forms and papers, HOA notices, and the like. The really important stuff that could get you in hot water if you lost it.
The rest of it all, even photo albums, you don’t need to keep any of it. Let go of that concept and start unloading some of the waste. Soon, you’ll soon find yourself clutter free and more organized!
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