Why You're Keeping Too Much Stuff

By Lorie Marrero 

 

As a professional organizer, I’ve heard a lot of excuses for holding on to things you don’t need. Most of us don’t have unlimited storage, so chances are all that stuff is intruding on your life – and your time. Here’s how to finally push those tired excuses aside and cut the clutter for good

Excuse 1: “I might gain the weight back.”

If you keep your larger clothes in with your main wardrobe, you are sending yourself the message that you don’t believe you’ll keep the weight off. Those self-defeating thoughts are waiting for you every time you get dressed in the morning. Your best strategy is to donate this clothing with joy. It's a way of fully committing yourself to your new, healthy weight for the long-term.

 Excuse 2: “It was a gift.”

Most gifts are intended as a gesture of appreciation or love. Would your friends want you to keep something that doesn’t make you happy? Exchange or return the item and choose something you will truly enjoy and use, or find a new home for your unwanted gift by donating it. Remind yourself that you have other tokens of your friendship with this person, whether in your heart, in photographs, or in other items you like and cherish.

Excuse 3: “I paid a lot of money for it.”

If you are not using it and do not enjoy it, it simply does not belong in your life. If you need to recoup some of your costs for the item, you can sell it on eBay or Craigslist, in a local classified publication, or to a consignment store. Good candidates for resale are typically children’s items, designer clothing, furniture, and collectibles. Remember that the price fetched for some items might not be a good enough return on your time invested to sell them, so consider donating and taking a tax deduction 

Excuse 4: “It’s a souvenir.”

In French, souvenir means "to remember." Does this item represent a pleasant memory? Do you have other memories of this vacation or event? If you need space, it’s best to prioritize and keep only the most uniquely representative pieces, and ideally, display them, or use them. For future travel, buy only practical things that are either consumable or extremely useful in everyday life, such as coffee, handbags, or a utensil for the kitchen. And remember, photographs are often 

Excuse 5: “It has great information in it.”

We have more information available to us than any other time in history, and you cannot possibly consume all of it. Use easy digital capturing tools like Evernote or Pinterest to store some of the information you want, and give up the guilt about what you “should” be reading. The block of time required to sort through those old stacks of papers and magazines will never come, more will be added regularly, and looking at them will give you a nagging sense of incompletion. Recycle or donate those materials and free yourself!

Excuse 6: “It’s a keepsake.”

That macaroni art from your daughter’s kindergarten years is definitely adorable, but is it the only memory you have of that time? Just like souvenirs, it’s likely there are other more prominent and representative works of art that are favorites and true keepers. Even presidential libraries don’t want the president’s every childhood scribble in their collections, and you’re going to run out of storage. Make a rule that when that basket or bin is full of keepsakes, you must clean it out before adding more.

Excuse 7 : “I can fit into that when I lose weight.”

Constantly thinking "I am too fat for that” as you look at a piece of clothing is a big drain on your self-esteem. Why not donate your too-tight clothing to someone who can use it now, and treat yourself to a new outfit when you reach your weight goal. If having a designer outfit or one favorite pair of skinny jeans is useful as a goal, it’s fine to hold on to those few key pieces, but don't keep them visible every day unless it truly motivates you in a positive way.

Excuse 8: “I might need it someday.”

This excuse may be the most common one of all. While it certainly could be valid, it’s important to think through a realistic scenario of when you truly would need it. A Texan woman with a fur coat once told me she had not worn the coat in years, would never travel with it, and because the likelihood of a freak snowstorm in Texas was very small, she would likely never have the opportunity to wear it in the future. She realized that parting with it was smart and made room for more usable and fun clothing she could actually wear. Ask yourself how likely it is that you’ll ever need that item in the future, and then let it go.