One of the hardest aspects of getting your home into order is removing and organizing clutter. If you have piles of clutter in every corner of your house, sorting though and organizing it is a big challenge.
Getting rid of a lot of stuff can be time-consuming, not to mention the toll it can put on your back from having to physically lift and move a great deal, but I think the emotional aspect of decluttering is what causes most of us to avoid it altogether.
Just think of it…most of the items that are in your home now were things that you personally bought because you loved them or thought they would be useful. Other things are gifts, and even though you may or may not like the gift itself, you probably care a great deal for the people who gave them to you.
If you’re a frugal person, like myself, you might think that it would be a waste to get rid of perfectly good, functioning items, not only because they might be in good condition, but you would hate to have to go out and spend more money on something that you once had but gave away.
On the other hand, things that were given to you are often tied to good memories…either the memory of a special occasion or to the person from whom you received the gift. Either way, it is sometimes hard to part with those items.
But if we want to have a clutter-free and organized home, we need to let go of these items. Let’s take a look at how you can move past these excuses and get to work removing and organizing clutter:
Moving Past the Memories
I’m such a sentimental person…I like to keep all kinds of mementos, cards and other things that help me remember a special time, place or person. This habit of mine is so bad that I tend to keep so much that my closets were overflowing.
While clearing out my daughter’s closets a few weeks ago, I discovered a stash of greeting cards that I had been saving for her. Every single card that she had been given since birth was in this stash…Christmas cards, birthday cards, even Halloween and Valentine’s cards…5 years worth of them!
We had fun looking through them all and seeing how much she was cared for by our family and friends, and then we tossed them into the recycling bin.
A few months, ago, I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing something so “radical.” But when I looked at it logically, I knew that these cards, were probably not going to be looked at or even treasured by my daughter when she grows up. We had not looked at them in a very long time, and doing so was a bit tedious.
If there are things that you feel very strongly about keeping, by all means, go ahead and keep them, if you have space to store them. You may even want to create a scrapbook or a shoebox-sized container of small mementos. But if you are honest with yourself about how often you actually look at these things, most of the time you will find that you won’t really need to keep most of it.
So-and-So Gave That To Me!
It’s so nice to receive a gift, isn’t it? Knowing that another person cares for you enough to give you a gift is so meaningful.
However, there are times when a certain gift outlives its usefulness, or…let’s be honest…you never liked it in the first place, but feel guilty about getting rid of it, so it stays.
I remember receiving the world’s ugliest vase from a friend of my parents for our wedding. At first, I didn’t know that the thing was actually a vase until my mother pointed it out to me…that’s how bad it was.
And I didn’t really know the woman who had given it to us…she had been unable to attend the wedding, but wanted to send us a gift. It was such a thoughtful gesture, and I felt blessed that this woman had taken the time to send us something, but it was just not something I wanted to keep.
I kept it around for several years…out of guilt…until I finally broke down and gave it to Goodwill. Hopefully someone with a more modern style than mine will find it and love it.
If you are finding it hard to part with certain items, think about the fact that another person may need or want them. That ugly vase or extra picture frame may not bring you joy, but it might to someone else.
Fighting Your Frugal Self
Removing and organizing clutter is hard for us self-professed cheapskates…why get rid of something perfectly useful that you’ve already spent hard-earned money on?
Well, because it’s taking up space in your home and space in your brain. You don’t use most of this stuff and the fact that it’s all over the house or cluttering up your closets is stressing you out.
Take my closet for example. I probably only wore about one-quarter of the clothing that was in there, the rest was pants that didn’t fit, ugly sweaters that I was given as gifts (!), and out-of-date items that I probably only wore once or twice.
Every time I opened the closet, I literally became anxious. Thoughts like, “I should really wear that sweater more”, “If I lost 5 pounds, I could fit into those jeans” or “I should have worn that skirt more often, but I can’t now, it’s so out-of-style” ran through my head, making me feel guilty for wasting money. Getting dressed each day was not enjoyable, it was a guilt trip.
A few weeks ago, however, I went through my closet again, only this time, I was ruthless…any item that didn’t fit or that I didn’t like went to the donation pile. Sad to say, I gave away about 4 large trash bags full of clothing. But this time, instead of feeling bad, I felt good…not only was I helping people who needed clothing, but I was clearing out those ugly feelings in my head.
If you don’t absolutely love something, why hold onto it? Give it to someone else who needs it, or have a garage sale and make a little money.
Next week, we’ll talk about some bedroom organizing ideas.
This is part 3 of the How to Organize Your Home series. Other posts in the series:
How to Organize Your Home
Tips to Make Your Organizing Easier
Bedroom Organizing Ideas
Kitchen Organizing Ideas
Pantry Organizing Tools
How to Organize Family Room
How to Declutter and Organize the Bathroom
Organizing Family Photos
Organizing Tips for Kids