Updated: August 15, 2020
If you live in a typical household, then you probably have a lot of unnecessary stuff lying around.
Clothes rarely worn and just filling up space in the closet. Drawers and shelves overflowing with trinkets and souvenirs from a trip or a party.
There are boxes filled with manuals, old textbooks, used electronics and broken appliances tucked away in the storage room.
And dozens of plates, mugs, utensils, and dining sets still waiting to be used after all these years.
Some of them are gifts, that nobody wants to throw or give away. Some of them used to be essential stuff, and you’re keeping them “just in case” you need it again.
While most, are simply there for sentimental reasons.
All of these things, if you think about it, are stuff which everyone in the house, especially you, can probably live without.
Reasons Why We Keep Clutter and How To Deal With It
“I have so much stuff, and I don’t know where to start.”
I know how you feel because that’s exactly how it felt when I started getting rid of my clutter at home.
The solution is actually to take baby steps – to get rid of the clutter, one item at a time.
“I might need it someday.”
If you haven’t used it for more than a year, chances are you won’t use it ever – so get rid of it, possibly sell it.
When that someday comes, you can probably just borrow from a friend, or buy a new one (which is often the case, even if you kept the old one).
“It feels good to see that I own a lot of things”
If your happiness lies in material stuff, then you have to work on your self-esteem.
Your values, your relationships, your life experiences – these are the sources of true happiness. Remember that you are worth more than your possessions.
“It’s a gift to me”
If you don’t need it, then get rid of it.
Most of the time, the person who gave it to you won’t notice or won’t care. But if they do and they feel offended, then tell the truth and help them understand your reasons.
I’ve learned that true friendship is not measured by the number of material stuff you gave each other, much less on the number of gifts you kept.
It is measured by the love, kindness, and respect you’ve given each other, without expectations.
“I’m keeping them for sentimental reasons”
These are the things, which remind us of the good, old times. We keep them because they help us remember happy memories.
It is the most difficult to deal with among all the reasons here, and one which deserves a separate section.
How To Let Go of Sentimental Clutter
Keep the best anchor
During a trip to Singapore years ago, I bought a shirt, a keychain, a ref magnet, and took tons of photos as souvenirs.
Months after, I donated the shirt to charity, I threw away the keychain when it broke, and eventually archived all the digital photos to my backup disk when I needed more space in my laptop.
I realized that I only needed the ref magnet, which I still use to this day, to remind me of all the good memories I had with my friends during that vacation.
Take a snapshot
When I graduated from high school, I had my uniform signed by all my friends since we didn’t have a yearbook.
I kept that white polo for many years until the ink started to fade and swell. I got a camera and took photos of all the messages written by my classmates. Then I developed the photos and later on, scanned and kept them as digital files.
I haven’t seen that uniform since I graduated from college, I think my mother used it as a rag and threw it out eventually. Then I remember tossing the developed photos to the garbage when it gathered mold and mildew.
However, the digital photos which I kept are still bright and vivid, along with the memories which come whenever I look at them.
Give it a new home
Things need to be used, and from a personified perspective – you’re disrespecting it by just leaving them lying around and gathering dust, merely to serve your memories.
Things have a purpose, and they need to fulfill it. Give your stuff to those who need them. Let your things turn over a new chapter and allow other people to create their memories with them.
Get Rid of Clutter Once and For All
Tossing out unnecessary stuff doesn’t happen overnight. It will take time and effort to rid of everything we don’t need. However, I discovered one very simple technique that’s been very effective.
And that is…
For each item you buy, you need to let go of two things you own.
This means when you buy a shirt, for example, then you have to get rid of two items in your closet or drawer. When you buy a pair of shoes, then you have to toss out a couple of things inside your room; and so on.
Give them away, or sell them, it doesn’t matter as long as you get rid of it for good.
I guarantee that this will not only declutter your life, but it will also force you to think twice about buying unnecessary stuff.
How long should you do this? Until all that’s left are just the things you need.
In the end, not only will you be able to save money, but you’ll also create more space for new things, and happier memories.
How about you? Do you have any tips on how to get rid of clutter? Please share them below in the comments section.