Receipts litter our drawers, old mail sits on our counters, clothes we haven’t worn for years hang in our closets and emails with no further purpose clog our inbox. Check the garage or the basement..oh my! What is it about stuff that is so hard to let go of?
Hanging on to things we will never use, and information that is outdated has some negative repercussions that extend far beyond just being messy. Is it just throw back to our post depression era parents, or is there something else going on?
It’s called baggage. Physical clutter leads to distraction and clouded thinking. Having things that don’t matter keeps us from maximizing the present and focusing on the future, because the past surrounds us on all sides. Most of the time, we don’t even realize it is there. It weighs us down and keeps us from moving forward, literally and figuratively.
Perhaps we don’t want to let go because at one time we hung on to those things. They brought us joy and they are a reminder of better times. Perhaps we don’t want to let go of the person associated or the era that is long gone. Everyone has different reasons for hanging on to stuff.
At some point, we realize it is too much, but the task is overwhelming and it isn’t until we move that we realize how much stuff we have. Some people just carry it from place to place, but it’s unhealthy – moving through life efficiently and with purpose becomes impossible.
Clearing the clutter takes effort, but is necessary . It starts with the decision to begin the task. Here are some tips for how to work toward a life that is full of abundance, but not full of stuff:
1. Pick one room or area at a time. Give yourself a certain amount of time to clear it, and stick to it. I recommend starting with you email boxes. It’s easy and there is a tremendous amount of freedom that follows. File the important stuff in clearly marked files for easy access. Check the boxes for all the rest and do it…hit delete. If it is negative mail you have been hanging on to, this is probably the healthiest thing you have ever done for yourself. DELETE IT.
2. Get organized. Put a box somewhere prominent that is marked “give away” first. As you go through each room. Fill it with things that are in good condition and useful to others. It feels good to know that someone else will benefit from your ability to let go.
3. Throw it away. We feel wasteful if we throw stuff away. Garbage is garbage. If you are not going to use it or wear it, and no one else will want it either, pitch it. If you can’t, get someone else to do it for you. Rule of thumb, if you haven’t used it in several years, the chances are you won’t ever again. It may have seemed like a good idea and you may have spent a lot of money on it, but everything loses value over time, accept it.
4. Eliminate paper. Grab the recycling bin. Scan copies of important documents or create hard copy folders and organize 1 filing cabinet to keep it in. Get rid of the rest. If it isn’t taxes or legal documents, you don’t really need it in paper form. Start getting your bills electronically, and keep sticky notes only until you can get that address or to do list into your planner or smart phone. Then pitch it. Get someone to put your pictures in albums or scan them on to your hard drive. Any pictures of ex’s should be tossed, your current love will thank you.
Do not underestimate the power of letting “stuff” go. It isn’t useful and it is downright harmful for many of us. Getting rid of things and moving on doesn’t minimize the importance of people, times, events and places that are precious to you. It means you are a grown up that understands that memories are in your head, not your closet.
Hang on to the memories, get rid of the junk!