Wednesday, April 29, 2015

If You (Don't) Love it, Set it Free!
At the heart of any organization project is a decision -- to keep, or not to keep. Finding systems, shortcuts and containers that complement your styles is important, but even the best of these containers is neither bottomless nor infinitely expandable. Like it or not, going through the "stuff" and determining what to keep and what to toss (or dispose of otherwise) is an important step toward getting organized.

And for many people, this is the most difficult part of organizing -- just ask an I love stuff person. The mere mention of getting rid of anything is painful to those who love stuff because each item holds a memory or significance, endowing it with a life of its own. 

Cram and jammers and I know I put it somewhere organizers, on the other hand, are usually able to be more heartless about this task (unless, of course, their personal style is I love stuff!) They may not like the labor involved, but their "out of sight out of mind" outlook makes it easier for them to separate trash from treasure. I love to be busy folks and drop and run organizers may also have little difficulty making the "keep or toss" decision, as their organizational struggles arise more from a lack of time than from an attachment to their things. And we I need to see it people are often delighted to get rid of things because it reduces the pile and, along with it, the feeling of being overwhelmed by how much we have to do.

That's not to say this is a simple task. Even for those who may find it easy (or even cathartic) to de-clutter, the task can be time intensive. If getting rid of things is hard for you, begin by taking stock of what you've accomplished over the past two months. If you've been reading along and chipping away, you've probably already let things go -- containers that weren't earning their keep, things you came across during a Give it Five! session, items that had no home -- and so you've already passed go and are well on your way. 

Photo: jdurham via Morguefile
Next week, we'll dig in (no pun intended) a bit more deeply, but for now, let's start with a list of expendable items. All of these can be thrown away or recycled relatively painlessly:

  • Things that are torn or broken , or missing pieces
  • Half a pair of anything
  • Things that are outdated (e.g back issues of magazines)
  • Things  you no longer use or need
So far, so good? If so, and if you've recently been working on the large, rectangular spaces in your bedroom, you might want to add "clothing that no longer fits or is out of style" to your list. Unless you really do want to throw it away or have a destination in mind, set it aside for now -- just for now.
If this is really hard, do what you can and congratulate yourself. Throwing things away is the most traumatic way for some of us to divest ourselves of our extras. If you find any of the above categories to be more magnetic than expendable, try choosing just one category or even just a few things you think you can manage; then, celebrate your successes. Or, set a goal for yourself -- say, ten items -- and see if  you can meet or surpass it. Every little bit helps.

Next week, we'll talk about finding new homes for the things that no longer belong in our homes. Meanwhile, if you've got a great suggestion for a way to give your old stuff new life, please share it in the comments below. 

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