Before you even start going through the clutter, you first need to get your mind right.
Once you’ve accepted that you are probably going to have to part with some of your belongings, the tougher pill to swallow is figuring out what to keep, transfer (trash or donate), or rearrange. I’ve put together a list of 10 questions that you should ask yourself that will make the process of sorting your belongings easier.
#1 Has the Expiration Date Passed?
A quick and easy win when you’re sorting through your things is to look at the expiration dates on items that can expire (makeup, food, medicine, etc.).
#2 How Often Do I Use It?
Whether we like to admit it or not, we’re all creatures of habit (just reflect on what you’ve eaten or worn in the past month). If you can’t remember the last time you’ve worn or used something, throw it away.
If it’s something that you use very infrequently, proceed to the next question.
#3 What Will Happen If I Got Rid of It?
If you got rid of the item, would you even miss it? If, while sorting through your belongings, the words “I forgot I had this” come out your mouth, changes are you won’t miss the item.
Also, if you got rid of it, consider how hard it would be to replace. If it’s difficult to replace you may want to keep the item.
#4 Does It Need Something Else?
You were planning to fix that 8-track stereo, but you haven’t gotten around to finding the replacement parts. You’ll probably never fix it, so just continue enjoying your music on iTunes, Google Music, Pandora, Spotify, and your iPod.
#5 Do I Keep the Item Out of Guilt?
In a previous post, I’ve talked about how you’re under no obligation to keep a gift that someone gave you. Only keep the special things that you cherish. If you’re concerned that the giver may ask about the gift, ask them if they would like it before discarding.
#6 Do I Have Room For It?
If you’re trying to reclaim much-needed real estate in your space, determine whether keeping a particular item is worth the space. If you want to keep an item yet you don’t realistically have the space for it, figure out whether you’re willing to make room for it.
This may involve having to get rid of other items to make room, but if it’s something you really want, you can figure out how to make it work.
#7 If The Item Was Broken or Damaged Beyond Repair, Would I Replace It?
The true test of the value you have on an item can be determined by it’s repair/replacement priority. If an item was damaged beyond repair and you wouldn’t hesitate replacing it (no matter the cost), keep it.
#8 If a Thief Broke Into Your House, Would They Steal This Item?
There was a really funny commercial out a couple of years ago where this couple’s house was broken into but the thieves ransacked the house…but left their outdated computer untouched. Are there things in your house that you couldn’t give away, even if you tried?
#9 Should This Item be Upgraded?
If there is a better model of the item available, perhaps it’s time for an upgrade? Now, I know this tip isn’t helping you get rid of clutter, but that newer model may be smaller or more efficient.
#10 Do I Look/Feel Great in the Article of Clothing?
Unless you are making major lifestyle changes, you’re probably not going to ever fit into that sexy black dress from 15 years ago. Instead of torturing yourself, just get rid of it. Plus you can go shopping for an even cuter dress when you get to that goal weight.
And if you put on an article of clothing and you don’t like how you look in it or you feel uncomfortable in it, you will never, ever wear it. Never.
So just get rid of it.
Some of my advice may seem harsh and that was my intent. If you’re dealing with clutter, you’re best bet is to include eliminating with your organizing efforts.
So be honest, what in your home or office do you know that you need to let go, but for whatever reason you can’t? Okay, I have this black dress that I bought from Express in 1998! Even if I could fit it, I wouldn’t wear it! I’m holding onto it because I am striving to get back to that size.
I’m going to get rid of it… J