It’s the unspoken clutter problem: the fear of clearing TOO MUCH. Some of us (like, oh I don’t know, ME) actually do clear too much on occasion. Others don’t clear as much as they otherwise might for fear of clearing too much.
And while there seems to be a million books and blog posts about how to clear like crazy and never look back (many of which I have written myself), it’s odd how rarely this particular issue has been addressed. So, my fellow over-clearers (and fearers), let’s stop skirting the issue and jump right in.
First of all, it’s my feeling that if you have to lean one way or the other, leaning toward occasional over clearing is the way to go. What I mean is, I would much rather endure the passing regret associated with wishing for a book that I donated to the library or pair of fishnets that I gave to a thrift store, than endure the never-ending, time-sucking, self-esteem eroding burden of swimming in a sea of junk. No contest.
That being said, there are a few things I’ve learned over the years that help me walk that line between clearing too much and not clearing enough.
The main thing I’ve learned related to my wardrobe is this: just because you’re not in the mood for it on the day you’re clearing, it doesn’t mean you won’t be in the mood for it some other time. That’s why we like to have a selection of colors and styles, after all! Because just like the weather, moods and personal preferences change from day to day.
Before I learned this, my wardrobe didn’t have a chance to gain variety and dimension. Because I’d go through it on, say, a day when I was in a sleek, minimalist mood, and I’d donate every ruffly, sparkly, feminine thing I owned. Then I’d wake up one day in a girly hippie mood and I’d instantly regret it.
More wardrobe wisdom I’ve acquired over the years: just because I don’t wear it, it doesn’t automatically mean I don’t like it. After all, I must have liked it at least a little if I bought it! It could be, in fact, that I don’t have anything to wear it with. So rather than needing less in such an instance, I may actually need more: a basic black skirt of a certain length, for example, or a pair of brown heeled boots.
When I even so much as suspect that Ted and I will not eat something in the cupboard, I donate it to a food bank. And I never, ever regret it: it’s a built-in way of sharing with those in need, and it makes room in my cupboards for fresher food that we’re actually excited about.
The question of keepsakes comes up a lot around the fear of clearing too much clutter. So let’s look deeply at this issue: the whole point of keepsakes is to help you remember or honor something from the past. But the remembering and honoring is the important part: not the thing.
So, for example, if you have a whole box full of your grandma’s old costume jewelry – and you know you’ll never wear it and it’ll just end up sitting in storage – do you really need the whole box? Or will one single piece help you remember her just as well? Or maybe you have a photo of her that does the trick, and you don’t need any of it.
When it comes to keepsakes, the memories and feelings are what are important, and the things are always just things. Believe me: even if you do get rid of the whole box, the memories won’t be erased, and the good grandchild police won’t come and take you away.
Of course, if you absolutely love an entire collection of your grandpa’s old classic novels, I advise keeping every single one. Everything is energy, so the bottom line is: tune into the energetic payoff you receive from an item (or collection) before deciding to keep it or pass it along.
Email and Other Electronic Clutter
My name is Tess, and I’m an over-deleter…And I’m not sorry! While it’s my intention to save the things I need, every now and then, something I end up wanting later does get deleted. Is it annoying? A little. Is it the end of the world? Never even close. Does it beat being swamped with unwanted emails and downloads? Absolutely.
…Anything kernels of clutter clearing wisdom you’d like to share? Challenges? Questions? Philosophies?