Too many clothes?

The psychology of the purge

Too many clothes?

Image courtesy of franky242 /

I always find it both cathartic and stressful when I am going through my items to reduce clutter in my space. It is so liberating to pass things I no longer need on to homes where they will be used and loved— toys or clothes my children no longer need going to charities where they can have a new life. But as great as it feels to let things go there is also a part of us that wants to keep things around, “just in case”. We have a fear that the moment after something is out of our grip, we will suddenly be in need of it (even if we haven’t touched it for the last six months). How can we confidently minimize our possessions and in turn maximize our spaces?

Here are 3 tips to help you when choosing what to give and what to keep.

1. Be honest when evaluating an object’s usefulness

Sometimes we keep things out of their apparent convenience but they rarely save us that much time or energy. Say that fancy (though mammoth) food processor that takes more time and energy to set up and clean than it is worth. It would be much simpler to just use a quality knife, which will reduce your dish load afterwards and improve your kitchen skills. If you haven’t used something in over six months if is not likely worth holding onto except in certain circumstances, but those are few and far between.

2. Create a network that facilitates sharing

Surround yourself with people who share your interests and they can also share the burden of your stuff. If, for example, you like camping but only go a total of two weeks out of the year, why should you have to store your gear the other 50 weeks? Find other people who also enjoy camping and you can loan them your gear when its not in use, and perhaps they will in turn loan you their camp stove you’ve been itching to try. This is hugely useful with children’s items as well because kids either outgrow or lose interest in things so quickly it is hardly worth the investment to purchase everything yourself.

3. Get to the root of it

Are you holding onto something because of the sentiment behind it? This is particularly a problem when we inherit things that are from a person we love but the item itself does not get used or add any value to our lives. We are not keeping the memory of someone alive by storing their old furniture or knick knacks. Instead, find a photo of a happy memory of the loved one and hang it where you can be reminded of them when you see it. You will keep their memory alive and you’ll clear up valuable floor space in your home.

Which of these 3 steps can you implement today in order to simplify your space?  Clearing things from our homes isn’t always easy but it is worth the energy spent to create a simple life.

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