Think about the last time you had to do “spring cleaning” or move. Were you able to get rid of your wonderful belongings with cold-hearted ease? Or did it feel like you were sacrificing a kitten with every item you had to discard?
Many people are emotionally attached to their possessions. It can be difficult to part with things, especially those that have had a place in your life. People have a variety of reasons and rationale for holding onto things.
Excuse #1: It Was Expensive
It may be true that you paid a lot of money for an item, but that, in and of itself, is not a reason to keep it if you aren’t using it or you don’t love it.
Regardless of whether the item is used daily, is sitting on a shelf in your basement collecting dust, is given to a friend, or is donated or thrown away, in none of those scenarios does the money magically reappear in your wallet. The money is (long) gone, so don’t use that as the excuse to keep your purchase.
Instead, think about that wasted money the next time you are shopping online or in a store; determine if the thing you are considering buying will get enough use to justify pulling out your wallet or credit card.
Excuse #2: It Was a Gift
Sometimes you have to keep “the thought behind the gift,” but not the physical gift itself, especially if you don’t need, use or love it.
My belief is that once someone gives you a present, they lose control over the item; they do not get to determine whether you keep it, or what happens to it. Most people don’t even remember what they gave you for your birthday or Christmas five years ago.
In the unlikely event that they do, they probably aren’t tacky enough to ask where it is. But, if they are, in that case it’s okay to tell a little white lie – “oh, we were so upset when Fluffy knocked it off the counter and it broke!”
Excuse #3: Every Time I Get Rid of Something, I Need It a Week Later
Yes, it is possible that after you spend a great deal of time sorting, organizing, and editing your things, you may find a use for something you chose to discard. But here’s the thing, if you hadn’t just spent the time sorting through the clutter, you probably wouldn’t even remember that you owned said item. Or, if you did remember, the likelihood is that you wouldn’t have known where it was or been able to put your hands on it when you did need it.
This is termed “recently-seen regret.” The trade-off is having a clear, clutter-free space. Remember, there is a lost time and productivity cost when you spend hours trying to find a missing object.
Excuse #4: If I Get Rid of it, I Won’t Remember
Is your memory so poor that if you don’t save the plastic, tacky model of the Eiffel Tower you truly won’t remember that you traveled thousands of miles to Paris? Is it really likely that, if you don’t save the boxes of Grandma’s china that you never use, you will forget Grandma and how much you loved each other?
Perhaps you can save items selectively. Instead of saving an entire set of unused dishes, save one mug and use it daily for your morning coffee. Or, save a small saucer and use it to hold your jewelry when you take it off at night. Consider saving one or two representative photos instead of the entire album (assuming you don’t look at it); another option is digitizing the photos rather than keeping hard copies.
Excuse #5: I Need to Find a Good Home for It
I do believe in keeping things out of the landfills whenever possible. However, you do not have to find the perfect charity for your discards. There are many, many good-enough charities that will happily take your unwanted items and put them to good use.
Spending hours researching the ideal charity is not a good use of your time; it will also likely ensure that the unwanted item doesn’t leave your home. The goal is to declutter and free up space so you can streamline and simplify your life. If it goes to Charity B instead of Charity A, it’s really okay.
No more excuses!
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