Throw It Out!
Help for those who just can't let go
by Jann Webb
hen faced with clutter, some people just don't know what to do with it all. They can't bring themselves to throw stuff away--they might need it some day! If you're one of those people, here are six guidelines I've developed to help you get a handle on things.
1. Put your possessions in perspective.
First in importance is your mental health and freedom. Possessions should not be allowed to ruin that!
2. We should recycle things.
This is most effectively accomplished by donating to Goodwill, Salvation Army or by pricing them reasonably at a garage sale. But, we must be good stewards of our time and energy, too. Most of us spend entirely too much time having to worry about all this junk! It takes too much energy to constantly rearrange it, or hunt for something important in some of our many piles.
3. You just might need it later. Oh well.
As soon as you get rid of something, of course you're going to find a need for it! This is one of those Murphy's Laws. Expect it.
4. Don't throw stuff out just to throw stuff out.
Before you toss it, evaluate how much space it is taking up and how easily replaced it will be. Once when on a rampage against clutter, I gave away all my fabric. This was in the top of a closet, an extra closet actually, and was not hurting anything. I have always regretted it because I could not easily replace it. Can the item in question be compacted or put in a place that causes no harm? If you have too many such items already, toss it. It's not worth the grief!
5. Don't mess with someone else in the family's junk!
Oh, excuse me, possessions. The easiest way for me to clean my closet and make more room would be to toss my husband's jillion pairs of extra shoes. But, this would be a violation of his personal rights and as long as he keeps them on his side of the closet is not infringing on my personal rights. Most people will not allow anyone to help them because someone has, probably in the best of intentions, invaded their personal possessions. This causes them to take on an attitude of "I have to guard my stuff from you!" and they clutter all the worse. If you get an opportunity to help, then sort and organize. Let them decide what to toss. And by all means encourage them to get rid of things, but let them be the judge. And don't be judgemental about it!!
6. Be realistic.
Over twenty years ago I was at a grandmother's house; she'd abandoned that house and was living elsewhere. She had a nice playpen that I could use and needed. When I asked her if I could have it she replied, "Oh, no! I might do a daycare some day!" Well, this was totally unrealistic. At her age and health and situation there was no way she was ever going to do a daycare! Are you really going to finish that afghan or make those clothes into a quilt? Or are you just kidding yourself? Are you really going to clip all the good things out of those magazines? Do you really need those duplicate kitchen utensils? Be realistic and then be ruthless to get free!
- Clutter's Last Stand: Cleaning guru Don Aslett's classic on decluttering.
- Organizing from the Inside Out: Professional organizer Julie Morgenstern explains it all for you. Her system really works, unlike any other I've tried.