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how to decide what to keep & what to get rid of…

By January 14, 2013Simplifying

So now you are downsizing, cleaning out the storage, with big plans to get rid of all this stuff. You dig in and start sorting through things. Then it hits you…why is the maybe or even the keep pile so big? Because we all think like this: I might use it someday. It is really nice. I paid good money for that. So-&-so gave it to me. I have had it forever. And the list goes on & on…

Believe me I have been a pro at the mentioned line of reasoning for years. I have always admired people who weren’t, people who could pack up all their belongings in a car and go, people who were more about life than things. However, I never thought I could actually be one of those people for a number of reasons, but that is for another post. This post is about how to allow yourself to let go of things.

While working through this process a few items have wanted to stay with me more than others for purely sentimental reasons. This is the tricky part. How do I ultimately decide whether they should stay or go? Simply put I ask myself the following questions and answer them honestly:

  • Have I used this item in the past year, or even two or more?
  • Will I definitely use it in the immediate future?
  • Why do I feel I should keep this particular item?
  • If it is in storage, am I willing/able to replace another item in my current living space with this item?
  • If I were to leave tomorrow, whether by force of circumstance or by choice of opportunity, would this item be among the things I take?

I find the last three questions the most helpful when I find myself emotionally torn on the question of whether to keep an item. They help me determine whether I am keeping something out of sentimentality, guilt, duty, or because I really love the piece. Don’t get me wrong: I am not saying there is anything wrong with keeping things because of sentimentality. I still have items I keep for those reasons. (Of note is that they are not in the storage unit, but with me at my home.) However, I do believe we sometimes get unbalanced and give more value to an item than necessary. Letting go of things does not erase the memories*. In fact, I think for me it frees my life of the weight of things and I enjoy the memories more. Not sure if that makes any sense…maybe I will find a better way to describe it someday. Until then I will say that once you make the decision to embark on a journey to free yourself of clutter and simplify your life you will not regret it. You may find you are like me and only wish you had done it much sooner.

Now what else can I get rid of?

*If I am afraid that I will forget a memory tied to a certain object, I take a picture of the object to remember it by.

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