Decluttering: How to Let It All Go!
Decluttering When You Have to Downsize
Over 20 plus years of accumulation has given me a unique perspective on how to live! I have watched many hoarders shows up to the point in my life of having to get rid of my own things. However, I never was a hoarder... like you'd see on tv. I mean I owned a lot but I could still navigate my house. I kind of like the sound of "organized chaos.” This aspect of downsizing is one I found really enlightening and therapeautic. You would not believe how many things I got rid of that someone later had actually offered me an identical one back and even a high priced very large appliance.
I have always enjoyed books on organizing and when Pinterest came along, I was so overwhelmed with how to's, it brought to mind that if I hadn't the stuff, I wouldn't have to organize it and I wouldn't have to buy more stuff or containers to organize the stuff. I mean there are even stores for this kind of thing. There are containers for everything! Even a store full of containers! I decided to browse the bookstore for books on this topic and thats when I found, Marie Kondo's book called, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I tried to read it for the how to's rather than the whys. Everyone has their own why to getting rid of things but thats not what I wanted to focus on.
I wanted to know how to get rid of that heirloom from great grandma and the letter from a deceased family member and the cards from people I couldn't even remember. Ok, those weren't so hard but there are some things that cant be replaced. There are also many things that can. To begin, set a timer, pick a category and find all the items of the category that may be spread throughout the house, and put them all together. It may take a few trips around but its important to have like items together. One may have to do this more than once but if they are all together, there will be less time spent going through everything.
I like to think of things in categories so I made several piles:
1. Donations: Things I don't need and can replace in 20 minutes or less and cost very little to do so. These items can be replaced at a local store or even a thrift store. Think extra of anything including appliances that you have never used but you keep telling yourself you will "someday." If it hasn't been used in the last 6 months, I consider if I will use it the next 6 and if I wouldn't, it had to go. Think of the bread maker...easy to replace and usually found at the local thrift store by the dozens.
2. Scans/Photographable items: A pile was for things I could scan and keep online because they meant so much, I didn't want to forget them but I also didnt want to hold on to them for whatever the reason. Sometimes just because of the sheer space they would consume. More stored square footage equaled more spending on said storage space. Things like my children's drawings from when they were little or a knick-knack from someone. This might also include certificates earned or report cards or maybe birth certificates, car titles, registrations, letters or cards from people past and present. There are so many ways to store these online through a company like DropBox or Google Docs which are all secured under a password so there is no concern that your identity is at risk. Scanning isn't even necessary, a simple photograph would do for some items. Virtually anything you can photograph or scan, you can "save" for future reference. I also consider this a necessity just in case of a fire or theft. Its much easier to recover from a tragic event if you have evidence stored of what you own or paperwork with proof of ownership or purchase.
3. Trash: The obvious stuff! Its just not useable. I had to stop keeping containers! Cereal boxes for art projects and toilet paper holders! Unique jars and vases that you may or may not ever use. This all had to go because it really does take up a significant amount of square footage and that equals needing to pay for more.
4. Broken items: Scratched, dented, or chipped. It has to go. If its something I didn't want to forget, Id photograph it. Those things that you will get around to fixing one day and you keep telling yourself that lie. I had a lot of those and they caused me to feel I had more to do and I always felt behind. If its a unique heirloom, and its possible to fix and you can't part with it by taking a memorable, picture, by all means, fix it.
5.Extras: I don't need 5 pairs of scissors and 50 ball point pens. I could donate these to a school, classroom teacher or an office or church. This applies to everything. If you have multiples, give them to someone. Thats going to cut down on the number of items you have to own, manage, clean and/or dust. The frustration of not even being able to locate 5 pairs is enough to drive a person batty but if theres only one, they will be kept in a safe place and one can always find them when they need to. Find a designated spot. If you lose that one pair, go to the dollar store for another pair. Cheap and easy to replace in 20 minutes or less or borrow them from a neighbor.
6.Heirlooms or decorative items: These can be among the hardest items to purge. Especially if someone close to you gives it to you and your concerned they will show up and want to see evidence you still own it. At this point, hoping its not too much, keep it if you want but if this person gives you things often, it may be time to have a talk with him or her about not giving you more stuff. Maybe check google for more ideas on how to handle this situation. If you don't want to keep it, photograph it and let it go. I always try to remember that item may the just the thing someone else needs and it will bring them joy to finally have it and especially at a reasonable thrift store price. Let it go and donate it unless you someone personally that, when you look at it, it reminds you of, then give it to them. Otherwise, it goes to a donation center. Heres the simple truth of stuff. If you hold it and it doesn't bring you joy or your not happy about it, get rid of it. Keeping anything with a negative connotation or emotion, is an indication it needs to be removed because its not healthy to feel down about anything.
7.Clothing: Seriously, I don't need to keep clothes in every size I have been the last 20 years. If your anything like me, you hold on to clothes just in case or for when you lose weight because you know, there may be a clothes shortage and you may need that clothing item at a later date. LOL! If you put it on and it doesn't make you feel good, get rid of it! It can always be replaced and maybe for pennies on the dollar at a thrift store.
8. Maintenance items: This is simple. If you don't want to clean it, dust it, or maintain it, get rid of it. Everything we own, takes our time and energy. If you don't want to spend time on it, get rid of it.
9. Greeting cards and letters: I am back to this category one because I think its an area I have had to address more than once and its ongoing through the years. With greeting cards, I went through them and bought a special greeting card box to store them in from a local craft store. It has a beautiful cover and says something about love. A decorative box that can be placed where I can enjoy it because it brings me joy and I love it. The cards from my spouse, I can either scan them and keep on digital or keep the actual card. I imagine myself an old lady one day, sitting in my rocking chair, sharing the cards with my grandchildren or just remembering our life together. I chose to keep mine but they can also be stored digitally. I did, however, have some letters and cards that I felt it was important to read and shred. These were stored full of emotions and negative feelings I hadn’t addressed. I felt it was a good idea to go through this process as a sort of cleansing and therapy that helped me heal from some part of my life that I had boxed up inside and stored in the closet of my heart. I released it and now I have found healing in something I hadn't forgotten about.
In conclusion, however you decided to declutter your life, just be sure to do so. Its like losing weight. Some have even found that getting rid of things helps them take more time on the things that really matter instead of up keeping their belongings.
For more questions or ideas, message me or consult other online articles.