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Discover how to combat three of the most common roadblocks to decluttering.

July 30, 2017

Having trouble decluttering your home? Finding it hard to discard items?  Letting go of stuff is one of the biggest challenges people face when attempting to organise their home. There are three common reasons why people struggle to let things go:

 

1. The items are too good to throw away

2. I might need the items someday

3. These items have sentimental value 

 

To help you achieve your organising goals; I am going to give you tips on how to combat the above-decluttering roadblocks.  

 

Roadblock 1: The items are too good to throw away

These are things that people refuse to discard as they are still in good condition. However, they are rarely used, if at all and yet people will continue to allow the items to take up space in their home.

 

How to handle this roadblock
Handling this roadblock is about changing your mindset, rather than thinking about throwing things away why not give it away instead. You may not have a use for the item but someone else might.  You have many options when it comes to giving things away, sell, donate or give it to a friend/family member who may have a need for it. Giving unused items away will not only free up space and get you organised but will also ensure items are used rather than sitting in storage becoming outdated and obsolete.   

 

Roadblock 2: I might need these items someday 
This roadblock sparks fear into people by making them think that if you get rid of something you might need it sometime in the future.


How to handle this roadblock
To handle this roadblock you firstly need to consider the odds of you ever using that item again. The longer you have not used an item the chances are you will never use it again. For most items, if you haven’t used it in a year you most likely have no need for it. 
Second, you need to consider your options, let’s just say you did get rid of that item, and by some chance, you did need it again how hard would it be to get that item. Could you borrow it from a friend, use an alternative product or worse case go to the store and buy a new one. If you have low odds of using the item again and have high options, you are in a good position to get rid of the thing. Remember you have survived this long without using something chances are you will continue to survive without it. 

Roadblock 3: The item has sentimental value
This can be the strongest roadblock and can prevent most people from decluttering. Sentimental items such as gifts and inheritances are often the most difficult to get rid of as people have an emotional connection to them. People often keep these things for two reasons:

  1. Obligation – if you are given an item most people feel obligated to keep it out of respect 

  2. Memories – the object triggers a memory either of a happy time or of a loved one in many cases a deceased loved one.

 

How to handle this roadblock
I will break this down by tackling two of the most common sentimental items, gifts and inheritances. 

 

Gifts 
Once a gift enters your home, you own it, and you are responsible for it. If the doesn’t add value to your life, let it go. This may be easier said than done but remember that people buy gifts as a symbolic way to show appreciation or to celebrate an event the physical item is not relevant. Over time people never remember the gifts they buy others, so it is highly unlikely that people will notice that you don’t have that gift anymore. Think about all the gifts you have brought people over the years, do you remember what you brought them? If you are in regular contact with the individual who brought you the gift, use the gift for a couple of weeks while in their presence and then let it go. Like any item in your home only keep the gifts that add value to your life. 

 

Inheritances 
Inheritances, the stuff we acquire when someone dies. People can have strong emotional guilt at the very thought of letting these things go. Always give yourself time when dealing with these things especially if the passing is recent. More importantly, allow yourself time to grieve the loss before decluttering inherited items. There are several strategies you can employ when attempting to declutter inherited items:

 

 

1. Remember people aren’t things

 

Always bear in mind that people aren’t things. A deceased loved one is not contained in the items they owned.  Rather they are held in the memories of friendship, love, and good times and are so much more than any physical object. Remember that deceased people owned things just like you currently own things. The things you own don’t make you who you are rather it’s you as a person that defines you.

 

 

2. Take a photo of it or write about it

 

If some of these items don’t have any value to you, but they trigger happy memories consider taking a picture of it, write about it or do both. This approach means that you have the option to share the memory with others via a blog or social media post if desired. Often it is not the physical object that is important but the memory linked to it.  This approach can help you capture the memory connected to an object without the need to hold onto it.  

 

3.  Repurpose 
Consider repurposing/using the items you have inherited. For example, if you inherited your grandparent's dinnerware rather than keeping it in storage consider decluttering your current dinnerware and use your grandparents instead. What a great way to keep someone's memory alive by having something they owned as part of your everyday life.

 

4.  Set Limits 
Remember you don’t need to keep everything just because you inherited something. Consider keeping few items that you love and limit it to a box.

 

5. Consider Other Family or Friends
Reach out to other family members or friends; it might be that they see value in something you have inherited. 

 

Tip – some items you have inherited might be valuable so take the time to check its worth to determine the best way to discard them.

 
Feeling motivated to declutter and organise your home? Good. If you do struggle to let things go, the above strategies can help. Always remember to focus on why you chose to organise your home in the first place. 


Are there any other challenges you face when decluttering? Let me know in the comments. 


 

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