We all have things! Things that we attribute meaning to, things that we feel we can’t live without, things that we pack away in boxes and forget until someone dares mention that we should consider throwing them out. If you ask yourself a couple of questions about those items that seem so very important to you, you may realise that in fact they are disposable and in getting rid of them you may be able to lighten your load and breathe easier.
Is the item sentimental or practical? If there is a practical use for it and you have it on display in your home then of course keep it. However if the item is hidden away for whatever reason then it is time to permanently let it go.
Have you looked at it in the past year? If not the chances are you do not need it cluttering your space. But, you may be saying, what about the certificate I received in grade three for fantastic reading? It meant so much to you then as it was a validation of your achievement. You have gone on to do even better in that regard and you do not need that validation anymore. You have the memory and you have the knowledge of your achievement. The yellowing piece of card in the box of similar faded paperwork is just that, a piece of card. You have the validation it represented within you and you have done since you first received it.
We attach so much value to some objects but it is important to remember that the object itself does not hold the memory. We are sentimental about the things that we collect but that sentimentality can in itself be stifling and in some cases it may even prevent you from moving forward. Allow yourself to hold your memories and you may even give yourself permission to forget some but in doing so you will forge a way forward and be more present in the moment that is now.
Starting small, decide on an area where you are currently living that you would like to declutter. Maybe a shelf in a room, a drawer in the kitchen or a cupboard that needs to be tidied out. It may be a box of faded old pieces of cardboard (certificates and memorabilia) that needs to be sorted through. Could be a box of photos that need to be sorted out and put into photo albums. Whatever it is, decide where you will start, put aside a few hours and start decluttering.
Taking your time, sort through the clutter. Arrange to have 3 containers, bags or receptacles of any description where you can get rid of the stuff you have decluttered. One is for stuff to throw away, one is for stuff to be recycled or sold or donated and the third one is for the stuff you want to keep. Now start sorting: Some things will obviously just be junk, so throw those out without even thinking twice, but there will be the other things that need a bit more thought. With each thing ask yourself the following questions.
1. Have I used, needed or looked at this in the past 12 months?
2. What are the chances that I will look at, need or use this in the next 12 months?
3. Is there any chance that I will look at, need or use this in the future?
4. Will it still be practical and useful after 12 months? (Clothes for example go out of fashion. Will that pair of jeans still be fashionable after 12 months or after all that time would I rather buy myself a new and more fashionable pair?) [I am guilty of keeping clothes that I have grown out of because I always feel that I might fit into them again at some stage]
5. Is this something with deep sentimental value to me that I cannot bear to throw out?
6. Could someone else get more use out of this item?
7. Would I be able to sell this or would it be better to just donate it to a charity?
As you sort through your clutter sort everything into these three receptacles, and the stuff that you want to keep, repack into your home.
Once you have finished each area, sit back and admire your handiwork. Well done for starting on decluttering your life. Now carry on with the next section that needs decluttering. I can guarantee that you will feel a lot better after getting rid of some of the clutter around you. Enjoy the process and enjoy freeing yourself.