Sentimental clutter is hard to get rid of. The watch, the birthday card and the piano all bring back memories of people we loved and good times we had. Throwing those things away seems like an affront, a cold detachment from our feelings. However, if you kept (or are keeping) every nostalgia-inducing item, you'll run out of room for anything else.
Try this. Get all that stuff together either physically or on a list. Categorize it by type (letters and cards, furniture, jewelry, dishware, etc.). In each category, pick the best one or two. By best I mean the most meaningful, most beautiful, most pleasurable ones. The rest you give away, donate or toss out. You're creating a "greatest hits" collection.
The beauty of this is that it not only winnows down your collection, but it concentrates it. Say you only have your grandma's engagement ring and not her flower pots, old slippers, dining table, teacups, wall clock, set of quilting magazines, closetful of fabric and painting of a cow.
That ring is eight times more precious. That ring is the pure, distilled essence of your feelings. Don't dilute your memories by spreading them all over the place.
Greatest Hits from wrestlingentropy's photostream
Getting stuff is easy. No one has a problem with that. So why is getting rid of stuff so hard? Mainly because no one reminds you to do it.
So here are some quick ideas to make disposing of unwanted items easier:
- Have waste baskets in every room. More than one if necessary. It may seem like a no-brainer, but I have witnessed people putting junk back on their desk because there was no waste basket handy.
- Put donation bags in your closets. Every time you come across something you don't want, toss it in the bag. When it's full, take it to the Goodwill. Repeat.
- Be generous with recycling containers. Put them wherever you need them; under your desk, in the kitchen, by the mail sorting center.
- Make use of Freecycle.org and the free section of Craigslist.com. It's amazing what people will take off your hands for free.
Other ideas are having a clothing swap with your friends or starting a white elephant table for your club or organization meetings. Get creative! The easier it is to get things out of your life, the more you'll do it.
Bonus hint: free stuff is still stuff! Don't take stuff just because you didn't have to pay for it. It can become clutter even faster than store-bought stuff.
Crumpled wastebasket via Apartment Therapy.