Stuff. We can accumulate a lot of it in our lifetime, often to the point where it overwhelms us as we approach the point in our life when less is more. Too many possessions can pose trip hazards and cause stress, health issues (think dust and allergens), and exacerbate memory loss. Here are a few tips on how to rid yourself of clutter:
Set aside a chunk of time each week to begin – one hour, three hours, or 30 minutes if you can’t do more. Put it on your calendar and honor it, much like you would an appointment. Prepare three bags or boxes and label them Keep, Toss, and Sell/Donate. Then, set a timer, start with your closet or office, and go at it. Keep only those items that “spark joy” when you hold them, and part with the rest. When the time is up, reward yourself with a nice walk or a cup of coffee and savor the feeling of freedom and accomplishment.
Another approach is the “40 Bags in 40 Days” method. Here you set aside some time each day to rid yourself of one garbage bag of trash, clutter, clothes you haven’t worn in years, etc. This may sound daunting, but you will be surprised how easily you can fill a trash bag.
Ask for help
Enlist the help from your children – chances are they would rather help you declutter and sort through your possessions now, with your input, rather than after you pass. Or invite a friend to come sit with you while you undertake decluttering. If they want to help, you can hand them items to sort into the three categories. Friends also make good, impartial sounding boards.
Part ways with mementos
This is often a tough one, so leave mementos for last. When you come across keepsakes that spark memories as you recall something or someone from your past, put them aside in a box or bag to be sorted later. Once you’ve gone through all of your other, less sentimental items, you can get to the more difficult items.
Here’s a tip – take a photo of those keepsakes you’ve been holding on to for years. Often we save things because we don’t want to forget a special person or event. Once you have a photo of it, you will feel a sense of freedom and will likely feel better about parting with the item.
Donate items ASAP
You’ve done the work, now get the items you do not want out of the house as soon as possible. Once you’ve filed a bag or box with items to be donated or tossed, be diligent about parting with them right away.
There are many benefits to decluttering, but perhaps the best reason to declutter is, when your house is full of things from your past, things that only remind you of who you were, you have no room for who you are now and who you are becoming. Try to find a happy place somewhere in between.