I recently received a question from an addSpace follower. I am certain that many of you also have a similar concern so I wanted to go into detail and provide practical steps to help you declutter your life. This is what she asked:
What questions can I ask myself as I sort through boxes of “stuff” in order to get rid of most of it?
For starters, if these boxes have been packed and loaded for a long period of time (over 3 months), before you open them you need to ask yourself – “what exactly is in there?”
If you don’t have a clue what is packed inside, this will be a major hint that you haven’t missed it. This, in turn, means that you probably don’t need any of it. You could make your life VERY easy and save a lot of time by simply not opening any of these boxes and taking them immediately, lock, stock and barrel, to your favorite charity.
If your curiosity is simply too powerful to take this action, you need to make a few agreements with yourself before you begin to open your boxes.
Your agreements to yourself might go something like this:
If I say to myself: where did this come from?- it goes!
If I can’t think of where it will live once I unpack it, it goes!
If I can’t think of how it fits into my life now, it goes!
If it was a gift and I don’t like or need it but feel like I am obligated to keep it, it goes!
If it was cool in the past but doesn’t really fit into my life now, nostalgia or not, – it goes!
Like it or not, if it does not serve me now – it goes!
There are so many more questions you might ask yourself, I could write a novel. Basically, everything that you decide to keep should serve you NOW either because you love it or it will add value and be useful to your life now!
Some people do the best unpacking and purging of their mystery boxes in the presence of another person who is not emotionally attached to the contents. This is why Professional Organizers have so many clients! We are trained to help our clients make the tough decisions and teach them the valuable skill of letting go with grace. A word of advice for this or any purging project; the worst person to enlist for help is someone sentimental and/or who has a personal history with the stuff within your boxes. They will end up foiling your plans and talk you into keeping most of the stuff!
Once you have decided what to get rid of, do not pass go, do not let it sit overnight. Take it immediately to charity before you second-guess your decisions. In order to accomplish this, start early enough to finish before the charity closes for the day. This will also provide you with a time frame in which to accomplish you task.
Speaking of time, if decisions become difficult, you might want to use a timer. Again, decide in advance how long you will give yourself to decide on each object that you unpack. One minute should be the longest it takes to decide whether the item is worth keeping. Longer than one minute and you might find yourself cruising down memory lane, stalling out and never quite finishing this task!
If you get stuck, call on me. I will accelerate the process and help you get it done quickly. I didn’t name my business addSpace To Your Life! by accident.
Realize that everything that you decide to keep will require a piece of your energy. At a minimum, it will require energy to store, maintain, remember to use and eventually get rid of anyhow. Protecting your energy for more important things than stuff is yet another good reason to lighten your footprint in the world. The more stuff you own, the more energy it takes to maintain your lifestyle. Want more energy? Own less stuff! Case closed . . .