Use It or Lose It!
To keep, or not to keep, that is the question. Whenever we organize we begin by purging, editing, downsizing, decluttering, or whatever you want to call this process. We do this first because most of us simply have too much ‘STUFF’. This 'stuff' has to be gone through so we can evaluate what is worthy of being in our space and what just isn't. Many folks have a hard time with this part, so I'm going to lay out some tips and tricks for ya'll when you have a hard time parting with an item.
Experts say that when you physically pick up an item of yours, memories flood back and it's harder to get rid of. This obviously doesn't happen for every pencil or sock but we've all got those sentimental items, or things we really do love but just never use. When these situations arise we have to ask ourselves when the last time we used/looked at this item was.
For example, say you're sifting through your kitchen and come across a panini maker and think "Oh gee wizz, I haven't used this little number in forever." Traditionally, that is something we professional organizers would suggest getting rid of since you have apparently survived this long without using it. However, maybe you're thinking "Well, I know I haven't used it in forever but I do want to use it so I think I should keep it." This is where you need be really honest with yourself. Think about whether you will actually use it or if you're just hoping to because you like the idea of using it. So, this is a situation where I say you either gotta justify it or junk it. If you're super duper convinced you will realistically use this panini maker, make a deal with yourself. Write that deal down on a piece of paper and tape it to the item. Include the current date and an expiration date of the deal. That way you can write the dates you used it and then see your progress by the expiration date of your deal. Make sense? Good. If not, contact me, LOL.
Sentimental items are another category people understandably have a hard time minimizing. The best thing you can do for your keepsakes is to display them so you can give them the respect they deserve. Displaying your sentimental items reminds you of your passions and inspires meaningful talking points with guests, all the while keeping your items organized! For example, baby clothes can be made into a custom quilt, stuffed animal, or framed in a shadow box and hung on the wall.
Even photographs can be enjoyed in SO many more ways than just albums and frames. You can transfer that smile onto a mug, an art canvas print or any of the other plethora of options you can slap a picture onto these days. If you just want to store your photos and get rid of their physical bulk, you can also store them in the cloud, on a USB, a CD or all of the above!
Collections such as teapots or baseballs can be turned into meaningful decorative art instead of dishonorable, dusty boxes in the basement.
When all else fails you can also always keep the item, just somewhere else. This can easily get out of hand so that’s why it’s a last ditch option and you don’t want it to become your new norm. This method works well with something that you really like, such as a floor lamp, but don’t have a need/space for at this exact moment. Simply find a friend who could make use of it now until you need it. This way the item is actually being used though isn’t taking up space in your place and is still available to you when/if you ever need it. It’s still good practice to set an expiration date where after a set time, say a year, if you still haven’t needed the item, you give your friend permission to keep or donate it.
It’s important to remember that life is constantly changing, which means that we are also constantly changing. Decluttering is just the process of updating what items are useful and relevant to you now. I hope that these methods help you next time you get stuck going through your stuff. If you feel like you could still use some extra support, consider enlisting a clutter buddy or professional organizer. This is helpful to provide an unbiased opinion so you can meet your organizing goals!