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De-Cluttering 101: Overcoming Excuses!

So, you want to de-clutter and organize your home? You go girl!

If you commit to this and see it through, it will truly change your life and the life of your family. That may seem a tad dramatic, but it’s the truth!

You probably already know this, but it’s not easy. On the surface it seems like filling a few (dozen) garbage bags, buying pretty baskets to organize everything, and completing a rigorous deep clean of your home.

For a long time, I thought the most challenging part of this journey, would be the time I’d have to dedicate to it. My husband and I both work full time, we have a toddler, and I’m 8-months pregnant. However, I’m super organized and can function well on the single cup of coffee a day that I allot myself. So this should be no problem, right?

Do you know what the hardest part of de-cluttering and organizing your home is? Overcoming the excuses that have gotten us here in the first place.

Getting our homes in order goes against behaviors ingrained in us from an early age. In fact, you’ll find that any time you take steps to improve your life, your friends and family will either cheer you on, or bring you down.

When I share with friends and family how much I’ve enjoyed getting my house in order, they challenge me by saying things like:

  • You got rid of 3 bags of clothes? We’re almost the same size, I could have gone through them.
  • You got rid of the coffee mug I brought you when I came back from vacation, in 2011?
  • I can’t believe you got rid of that thing. I have one, and I love it!
  • I was just needing one of those the other day. I bet you’ll miss having that.
  • Do you know how much money you could have sold that for?
  • Must be nice to have that kind of money where you can just get rid of that.
  • Wow… I’m surprised, that’s really wasteful.

Ouch! Right? These are my friends and family!

I understand that their comments aren’t about me, they’re about them. They’re giving themselves a security blanket of judgement because they live with clutter and don’t want anyone else climbing out from under it. If you show it can be done, they feel like it shines a light on the fact they haven’t.  They want excuses not to change. Well, not from me sister! And not from you!

Here are the 5 most common excuses holding you back from having the kind of home you want. Read through them, write them down on a sheet of paper, and burn it. (Okay, now that’s dramatic! But you get my point.)

Excuse 1: It’s wasteful to get rid of something if it’s still in perfectly good condition.

Buying or receiving something, is not a life sentence! If there is an item sitting unused and collecting dust in your home, get rid of it. Whether you knew you wouldn’t use it from the moment you unwrapped it as a gift, or even if you spent a lot of money on it with the intention it would be useful, get rid of it. If it serves no functional purpose to you, then it doesn’t have a place in your home.

Excuse 2: I know if I throw it out, I’ll end up needing it and then I won’t have it.

Has this ever actually happened? Your answer is probably: No, because I’ve never gotten rid of anything! Even if it is yes, I bet it’s: Yes, there was this one time…

I’d much rather get rid of 40 things, and then need to go buy 2 of them again, than to keep all 40 things in my house out of fear that their presence will be missed as soon as they’re gone. That 2/40 is probably the likelihood that you’ll actually need the things you get rid of.

Excuse 3: My friend or family member will be upset or notice I don’t have it.

I’m assuming your friends and family members give you things because they want to add value to your life. If they have ulterior motives, I wouldn’t give their opinion a second thought anyway and move on.

If you really want to be sensitive here, let the individual know you have enjoyed the item in question but were considering donating it so someone else could enjoy it. They’re also welcome to have the item back if they’d like.

Honestly if you don’t use an item, I wouldn’t expect anyone else to notice its absence either. If you’re ever asked, share that you donated it to a great local cause. They should be so happy that you found value in the item for a time and wanted to share it with someone else.

Excuse 4: It’s worth X amount so I’m going to sell it.

Think back to the first time you said or thought this. How long ago was that? Yikes!

Okay, you have 1 week to sell it. If you’ve already tried to sell it unsuccessfully, let it go. If you don’t sell it in a week, let it go.

As my daughter outgrows baby items, I bring them to a local consignment shop. If they don’t take it, I drop it off at Good Will on my way home. I could spend time and energy trying to go to multiple consignment shops or sell it online, but my time is more valuable than the $13 I could have gotten for a bundle of 2T girl clothes.

Excuse 5: It has sentimental value.

This one can be really tough. I’m not suggesting you throw out photos of your family or family videos.

My Mom passed away when I was in High School, and I have a box of things that belonged to her. I can’t even open the box. It’s moved with me from college housing, to 6+ apartments in 2 states, and now my home. This is not the type of item I’m suggesting you part with. There will always be room in my home for this box.

What I am suggesting however, is that you don’t need to keep:

  • Every Birthday, Christmas, Easter, Anniversary, etc., card
  • Every drawing your kids give you
  • Things that represent a specific time in your life (goodbye, college shot glass collection!)

Final thoughts…

Ultimately, what you decide to keep in your home is personal and your choice. Understand the difference between what you chose to keep vs. what you feel guilty letting go.

This is just the first part in a long series I’ll be publishing on how I de-cluttered and organized my home. Stay tuned!

What’s the strangest thing you’re still holding on to? Share in the comments below!

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