How many times have gone to throw something away and then thought ‘But what if I need it someday?’ How many times have you then actually used that item? I’m willing to bet it’s less than you thinkI
Everyone has a fear of throwing out an item only to realise that they really did need it after all. This is even if the ‘after all’ turns out to be as much as 6 months, 1 year or even 5 years down the track. Holding on to something gives us a feeling of safety and comfort.
This is all very well but there are negative consequences to this type of thinking unless we are careful about it. The more we keep, the more we clutter up our homes. A cluttered home then weighs us down and steals from us our feelings of peace and calm. Another problem is that when we keep all of these things, we can end up with so much stuff that if we do actually need an item, it can be almost impossible to find it.
We live in a world where things are really easy to acquire. We can find most items relatively easily and cheaply and therefore don’t need to clutter up our homes holding onto stuff on the off-chance we might need it one day in the future. This means that we can get rid of things that are taking up space without needing to worry too much about going without.
Things we keep ‘just in case’ we need them.
We think ‘What if I have to move house one day?’ ‘Will I be able to find boxes when I need them?’ ‘They’re useful. Are they really clutter?’
The thing to think about here is whether your collection of cardboard boxes is taking up valuable real-estate inside your home. Could you use that cupboard, room or garage for something more valuable and necessary? Are they blocking access to other parts of your home?
If you needed a box for something, would you actually use them or would all of the dust and spiders turn you off and send you running out to find something else to use instead?
Then of course there is the fire hazard any collection of cardboard or paper creates.
Just because something is useful doesn’t mean it gets to escape the ‘clutter’ tag. If you don’t need it or use it regularly and it is taking up useful space then it is clutter, no matter how useful it might be.
So on the day you actually require a number of cardboard storage boxes for something, put a call out to your friends, head down to the local grocery store or check online in your local buy/sell/swap pages or garage sales. You will be able to pick some up cheaply enough right when you need them.
Clothes that don’t fit
It’s a mistake to keep clothes in our wardrobe in the hope of fitting into them again sometime in the future. The problem is that if and when we do fit into them again, they will most likely be out of fashion anyway. It’s amazing how a slight change in cut, collar design or button placement from year to year can so easily date a piece of clothing that was once our favourite outfit. The excitement of being able to fit into it again is then overshadowed by wondering why you ever liked it in the first place.
Then of course, while we can’t get into them, these clothes sit there reminding us of our ‘failure’. They also make it difficult to find the clothes that do fit and look good on the body type we are now. Too many clothes in the wardrobe means that they are all squashed up against one another and after you battle your way through to find the thing you want, you discover that you need to iron it again because it is so creased. How frustrating is that!
Cut your losses and only keep clothing that looks good on you and makes you feel fabulous when you wear it.
When we buy something, particularly if it is expensive and comes with a warranty, it is a good idea to keep the receipt in a safe place just in case the item is faulty or breaks down. There is no problem with that. The trouble comes when we keep all of our receipts. There is no need to keep receipts from items such as food, restaurant meals, movie tickets and other things that once used or consumed have no remaining value. Hold on to something just long enough to cover you until the item is used and then get rid of it quick smart.
Many kitchens have at least one cupboard full of cookbooks and recipes that we one day plan to cook. I certainly did. If you are like me, many of these are never used. Ask yourself why that is.
For me, it was because most of the recipes were too ambitious. They had too many ingredients, the ingredients were exotic things I did not have in my pantry or they would take too long to cook. Getting rid of all but those most often used feels really good and makes space for other things. If I really really need a recipe, there’s always Google. It doesn’t take too long to find something that will do.
Actions to take
Make a resolution to get rid of anything that you know you will not use again. Then, declutter any item that has not been used in the past year. If you can’t quite bring yourself to throw something out, put it in a box, seal it, write the date 12 months from now on the outside and set it aside. If you haven’t gone to that box to reclaim something by the time the date comes around, take it out and get rid of it without even opening it.
So next time you default to thinking ‘But what if I need it someday,’ take a moment to have another think and perhaps make a different decision.
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