Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Lies We Tell Ourselves About Clutter

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This past weekend, I was finally able to go through and film a home tour on Instagram stories.  (I highlighted it if you missed it, just go to my profile and click 'Home.')  I had been meaning to do it since this past May marked 2 years since we moved in and I like documenting the changes, but it just never happened.  And then I did the Mins Game challenge and decluttered over 450 items from our house.  Since I'm already a minimalist, people wanted to see what I even had left when I was done, so that's what I did on Saturday.  In the tour, I even open all cabinets and drawers so you can see what's inside.  I still have things I'd like to declutter and organize, that's just how I am.  But I really don't think I'd have enough for another round of the Mins Game, and that makes me happy. 

At the end of the tour, I asked for questions and comments and one theme (besides 'come organize my house!') ran through a lot of them - "I want to be more minimalist, I wish I could get rid of more clutter.'  You can!  The hardest part is getting started but once you do, you'll find yourself downsizing easily.  Of course, items always come up that you need to make tough decisions about.  Even I face that.  Here's a couple of the lies that people often tell to justify holding on to things they don't really need (or even want!):

I'll Use It in the Future

You can think up a future scenario where you might use any item under the sun, if you think about it long enough.  That doesn't make it true.  Items exist because they are useful, but that doesn't mean they are useful to you.  A lot of items that you think you'll use later belong to your fantasy self.  Your future, better/very different version of you.  Let them go.

I'll Need It When a Certain Event Happens

This is related to 'I'll use it in the future,' but in this case you have a very specific event in mind.  Two that come up very often are weight loss and travel.  People keep smaller clothing items for when that weight loss happens and they keep things like plug adapters for when they go to Europe.  If you don't know when exactly, in the very near future, those things will happen, you're just creating more clutter.  If it's going to be years and years before those items become useful to you, then you're wasting space both physically and mentally.  It's also highly probable that when that future event does happen, what you've been saved will be outdated and you need to get a new item anyway.

I Need it as a Memory Tool

This happens a lot with travel souvenirs and wedding favors.  You think you need to keep the item to remember that moment in time, but you don't.  Especially if (a) you have multiple items from the same event and (b) that's the only reason you're keeping the piece.  You might have an item from your travels that you love and display, but if it's just a little keychain that hides in a drawer?  You don't need it.  A good way to get these things out of your life is to take a picture of the item, and store the picture digitally.

Everyone Has One/Needs One

Again, just because something is useful doesn't make it useful to you.  'Everyone' has a lot of things I don't have and don't want.  I can't magically make a litter box useful when I don't have a cat, I can't use a car charger when I don't have a car.  If you never use a crockpot or high spray, don't keep it!  Make your decluttering choices based on the life you actually lead, as opposed to what everyone else does.  Besides, if you really end up needing that item?  Clearly you know 10 people you can borrow it from.

It is (or Will Be) Worth Something

First of all, it's always important to remember that items are really only worth what someone else will pay for it.  You won't find anyone that will pay a premium on an item that's only value is it's sentimentality to you.  You'll also have a hard time finding someone to pay for items that are very specific, like a creepy old clown doll, or very saturated in the market, like your beanie babies.  It's not as easy to sell things as you think it is.  And most items are just not worth what you're hoping they will be, and they end up being particularly not worth it when you think of them in terms of what they cost you in storing the item for years and then going through the work of finding collectors or listing on eBay.

My Kids Will Want It

They don't.  This is one my mother is currently struggling with as she declutters things she kept from my childhood.  (My first haircut, my entire set of teeth - ew.  12,000 photos of me - cute, but no one needs that many.  A program from a school play and my cap from kindergarten graduation?  You're just getting crazy now, mom.)  Of course, many people are more sentimental than me, so it's good to keep a few things like this for your kids, but not every scrap of it.  Definitely don't keep all kinds of household knick knacks either thinking that you'll be able to pass this clutter off on other people one day.  That's just passing off the decision making about what stays and what goes onto someone else, and why would you burden someone you love with that?  If your kids are older, just ask them.  I can tell my mom exactly what I actually want out of her stuff or stuff in my parents' house - her tennis bracelet.  If they're still young, just make the decision yourself.  Don't saddle someone else with an entire lifetime's worth of your stuff.  (This is called 'Swedish Death Cleaning,' by the way.)

I'll Regret It if I Declutter It

This one scares a lot of people.  You don't have to start out by adopting a minimalist way of life and getting rid of everything.  Start by getting rid of things that don't make you happy or worse, cause you stress.  Those should be easy to remove and you definitely won't regret doing so.  Once you do those items, the rest becomes easier and you can see what you really don't use and won't miss.  Anyone who has 'Kon Maried' their house will tell you that they don't even remember most of what they got rid of, let alone regretted anything.

I'd Declutter It if I Knew What To Do With It

If you have a lot to get rid of, this can hold you back but it's easy to overcome.  A quick eBay or Amazon search will tell you if something is worth money.  Clothes can go to something like ThredUp.  Everything in good condition can be donated, and the rest recycled.  All the information is online now to find where and how to donate any number of items at a place near you.  Some things, yes, will have to be thrown away.  But they'd need to be thrown out whether you do it now or 5 years from now.

Do you tell yourself any of these lies?  What do you struggle with when it comes to getting clutter out of your house?

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