Updated: Dec 10, 2019
When I work with clients on home organization projects, one of the most common reasons people give for keeping things is, “I might need this someday. Every time I let go of something I later think of a use for it and wish I had kept it.” It is true that this can happen. I’ll be completely honest and admit that once or twice I have personally experienced a moment of regret for having let go of something in my home.
Letting go can feel like a risk or a potential lost opportunity. I challenge you to shift your mindset around this “risk” when de-cluttering items — for things you haven’t used in years and have no specific plan to use in the future. Ninety-nine percent of the time you either have something else in your home that can be substituted for the desired item or you can manage the circumstance without it; if the particular thing is truly an absolute necessity you can usually purchase another.
Now before your mind explodes thinking, "that is a waste of money,” consider the costs of your possessions beyond the purchase price on the sticker:
Storage: We all have a finite amount of space in our homes; keeping unused items steals valuable storage from the things we need regularly.
Time: Efficient organization is more challenging with lots of stuff in your home so you waste time looking for things; also, cleaning is more difficult and time consuming.
Physical Health: Inability to clean leads to accumulation of dust and pet dander which can exacerbate allergy issues; extreme cases of clutter can put you at risk of injury from falling/tripping over objects.
Weight and Fitness: You’re more likely to eat out or choose junk food if cooking is a challenge in your messy kitchen and you can’t exercise if you can’t find your workout clothes.
Relationship Troubles: Messy Matilda (or Matt) living with Neat Nellie (or Neal) can be a recipe for intense conflict; an overfilled home prevents some people from entertaining friends and can lead to isolation.
Mental Health: Every day I see how living with too much stuff causes people to feel overwhelmed, depressed, guilty, ashamed, and hopeless.
Energy Level: The negative emotions, search-and-rescue missions for stuff, poor nutrition habits, and battles with family and friends are enormous drains on your energy. You feel exhausted, which causes inaction, the clutter grows, and you find yourself in a downward spiral.
These are what you might call the “emotional price” of keeping things. I am not proposing you get rid of the snow blower you use in Kansas City every six to eight years, the expensive cocktail dress that gets worn once in a blue moon or other specialty items that would be extremely costly to replace.
I do challenge you to think twice about items with a lower monetary value — craft supplies, basic clothing and accessories, books, serving dishes, etc. The emotional cost of holding on to things with no current use to you is often much more damaging than the potential replacement cost if, in fact, you do find that you need it someday. If you need help in letting go of items, contact me for a complimentary session, and let's talk about how to move forward without risk.