When my mother passed away a while ago, my sister and I spent several months cleaning out her house. It was something I tried to help my mom with when she was around, partially out of the overwhelm that I knew would come when we had to clean out the house when she was gone. But also because I know how hard it is to live with clutter you don’t want but don’t know how to get rid of.
That summer, my sister, who was 7 months pregnant at the time with a 2 year old and me with a 7 month old, spent day after day sorting through an entire 1500 square foot home that was mostly full with life’s possessions. Clothes, furniture, family items, dishes. My sister and I actually looked at each and every item in that home to decide if we would keep it or not.
Not only was the process tiring emotionally, and difficult logistically, all I could remember feeling while doing that was how all I was doing was processing stuff.
Moving stuff, packing stuff, donating stuff, throwing out stuff. It seemed to never end. And I quickly realized how much time I spent in my life just dealing with stuff. It was more than half my waking hours. And I was literally consumed with it all the time. I needed to identify better ways to convince myself and other how to more easily part with their unnecessary things.
I realize cleaning out someone’s entire house is different than dealing with the stuff we have around every day, but maybe it doesn’t feel that way to you. One of the major things we all struggle with at home is clutter and organization. Simply put, we all have too much stuff. It is actually true that we can not only survive but thrive on living a simpler life with less material possessions.
I used to think I liked to live with few items, you know a minimalist mind set. But in reality my home is not like that. And if I thought that way before, cleaning out an entire house really changed me further. One of my favorite things to do is get rid of stuff. Simplify, clean up, get out the weight of things, mess, aggravation of physical items I don’t need in my life. It’s all too much.
I also realize my ease of parting with just about anything is rare and that many people have a very hard time letting go of things they don’t use or want. I see it frequently, in my friends, and even in my family. I put together this list of new ideas to help you when you are planning to clean out. When you are sick of the mess, and the burden of having all kinds of items you no longer need. I promise you, some of these tips will help.
Here are five ideas to help you get rid of stuff.
Pretend You are Moving
Although this is not realistic, since most of us only move a couple times in our lives, you need to look around and ask yourself, would you really take it all with you? Probably not! Every time I fill a box for donation and empty out a car load at the local thrift store, I think about how much space that would take up in a moving van. A lot!
Think about leaving your home for a new one. Your dream home. Would you want all the clutter there too? The boxes, the piles of things you don’t ever use? Nope. Pack up some boxes and donate it.
Keep Only What You Use for This Season in Life
If you’re not using it in this time in your life, get rid of it. Those clothes you still have from high school, toss them. Seasons of life change when you have children, move into a different house or to a different place, change jobs, are in grad school, etc. If you have items from those times and you’re no longer in them, get rid of the items.
I’ve made hundreds of dollars from books from graduate school that I no longer use. I also cleaned out a lot of the furniture refinishing project materials that have expired or I no longer need now that I have kids. I’m not saying get rid of everything, but for me personally I know I don’t have time to refinish furniture right now, so why hold on to 47 quarts of paint? I gave them away for free to people who will use them. I didn’t actually have 47, it just felt like it 🙂
Prepare Your Home to be Photographed by a Magazine
As a blogger this is something I do all the time. What happens when I set up photos is that I take out all the stuff I don’t want in the picture and make it look really nice. It occurred to me, why should I put all the other “ugly” stuff back?
It may not be realistic for you to think this way if you don’t take pictures of your home often, but try it. Go get the camera, shoot with your back to the window and take a look. What do you see in the shots? A nice, happy and functional home or a hot mess? Clean up the space and start again. Isn’t it amazing how different your space looks in a picture?
Just think of how much nicer all your family photo albums will look once you get rid of the mess in the background.
Realize Other People Can Benefit From Your Stuff and You Can Make Money
There’s two schools of thought here. One is that when you donate your items, non profit organizations can put people to work and teach people skills by selling them. The other is that you can make money yourself. I made nearly $1000 from the items I sold when I cleaned out my mother’s house. Use Craigslist or Facebook yard sale groups to advertise your things. Make your transactions safe and you can pay off some debt quicker.
Take a Picture of It
This tip is a game changer! Most often the reason we have a hard time getting rid of something is because it has a special meaning to it. It was from a family member or has a special connection to a time in your life that you don’t want to forget. We all have items like that. I’ve done this for a ton of items! I love that I have a memory of what it was but I don’t have it sitting in a box in my attic that I have to move again.
Things I’ve done this for include: a college sports jacket, decor from my room as a kid, trophies, items someone gave me that I don’t use anymore, clothes my children wore that they don’t fit into.
If something has meaning for you and you have a hard time getting rid of it, take a photo of it. Then organize those photos on your computer or better yet, actually print a photo book of them and it’s a win-win. You keep the memory but get rid of the item, and time, stress, storage and cost that goes along with keeping it.
What do you think? Will you try these five new ideas to help you get rid of stuff? Have any of them worked for you?
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