Decluttering When It’s Hard to Let Go
Decluttering When It’s Hard to Let Go
Living in a home that is free of excess and clutter sounds freeing, but the act of getting rid of belongings can be especially hard if you have trouble letting things go.
Sentimental items, for example, can be particularly difficult to part with. How do we know what to keep and what to part with? What if I need it one day?
After being asked about this many times over the last few months, it’s now the subject of this blog post.
So, how do you declutter when it feels so tricky? Here are a few simple strategies:
Practice really does help
Getting started can be difficult. But when I work with clients I nearly always find that the longer we spend decluttering, the more able they are to let go. They become more confident with their own decision making and the process gets so much easier. Then later on, they recognise that the items that are let go are not missed at all.
If you’re at that difficult place at the start of the process where you’re feeling overwhelmed with clutter and are worried you’ll never be able to get through it, take heart; it will get easier with practise.
Focus on what you want to keep
This is a small but very important mindset shift. If you start decluttering with the mindset that you’re going to get rid of everything apart from the things you truly use and love, it’s a lot easier to say goodbye to those items you’re unsure of, because they already have one foot out of the door!
Recently, I worked with a client who had a huge number of books…most of which were surplus to requirements. We stacked them up in her study, assuming that they were all going to be donated. She then looked through the piles pulling out only the titles that she really loved and wanted to keep.
So she ended up with a small but mighty collection of books that she really wanted to keep and very happily donated the rest.
Thinking of people who will benefit from your donations
If you are a practical person, it can be especially hard to justify letting go of something that works perfectly or is in great shape. However, if it’s something that you are not using, it’s still clutter for you, but it could be very beneficial to someone else.
Almost all the items I take away from clients homes are donated to charity. (the rest goes into household recycling or is taken to the recycling centre). My clients are overwhelmingly generous and take heart from the many families in need that benefit from the items they so kindly give away.
Picture the end result
Before you start, think about the reasons you want to declutter. I always ask clients to share their decluttering goals. These have included; creating more space, putting their home up for sale, writing a book, inviting friends to stay, starting a new hobby, redecorating, creating a guest bedroom, etc. It’s a good idea to keep your reasons front of mind, so that if the process becomes tricky, you can find that bit of motivation that helps you keep going.
Remind yourself that letting go is okay
This applies to all areas of life, not just decluttering. Letting go is just part and parcel of the human experience, whether it’s letting go of jobs, relationships…or clutter!
There are items that we own that were the perfect purchase at one point. They were both used and helpful. Then they weren’t anymore. And that’s fine.
The nostalgic part of us may be tempted to hang on to those items because we were once grateful we had them, but it’s also okay to recognise that they’ve served there purpose and now it’s time to let go of them.
Have a designated place for sentimental items
Momentos or sentimental items are definitely one of the toughest categories to declutter. Purists may say that these items don’t serve a purpose and should go, but I would struggle to take such a hard line.
If the items are very important or meaningful in some way, of course it’s okay to keep them. I have a box of items that are very sentimental and I’ve no intention of parting with them at present.
That said, it’s a good idea to store momentos in a specific container and not go beyond that. For example, my items are contained in one box and if that box becomes full, that is a signal that it is time for me to go through them to see if there is anything I am ready to part with. Of course, there usually is. Just because I wanted to keep it six months ago, doesn’t mean I want to keep it today!
I hope this list of tips has been helpful!
If you need 1-1 help with decluttering, please contact me:
Tel: 07828 782 998