I want to reiterate: it’s okay to throw stuff away. I’m not talking about wrappers from fast food joints or the used cat litter. No. I’m referring to stuff that you might consider perfectly acceptable, usable and handy… but that which you haven’t used, thought about or even remember having in a long time.
Come on, you know what I’m talking about. Open any closet in your house or junk drawer in the kitchen and you’ve begun a mini treasure hunt through useless items you’ve collected possibly for years. The plastic cap-thingee that you just know belongs to something important and you’ve held onto since 2006, the mostly dried up bottle of glue whose lid you keep promising yourself to unclog, the really cool multi-tool gadget you’ve never actually used… you get the picture. Ditch ’em or donate them. Free up the space. Clean out the clutter. Rid yourself and your home of the junk!
Now, you might be wondering why I’m on a tangent about “stuff”. Well, it’s because I’ve now attended two conferences in less than one month’s time and I came home with goodie bags from each. I admit, I came home high on information and determined to look through, read and use every single goodie bag item I was blessed to receive. I also admit that first goodie bag sat on the floor of my office for four or five weeks before I ever opened it. And do you know what? Most of the stuff was junk; meaning stuff I knew I would never use. Granted, there was a part of me that felt compelled to keep it all, like the organizers from the event somehow bugged the “stuff” and knew what I was keeping or tossing.
With the help of a group coaching program I recently started attending, I learned it was Okay to throw stuff away. There are no Useless Crap Cops who are going to swoop down on me for getting rid of the oversized drink huggies, hard plastic mouse pads, glow-in-the-dark necklaces or pens after pens after pens! And after I brutally went through the first goodie bag, I went through the second, and then I went through the books and cubbies stacked on my desk and the storage cabinet… you get the picture. I want you to know that it felt FANTASTIC. It was such a liberating experience to haul those trash bags (and donation boxes) out to the garage. I was able to enter my office space and BREATHE.
So I want to tell you how to do it too! When cleaning out a junk drawer, closet, storage container, file cabinet, wish list or whatever, ask yourself these questions:
- When was the last time you used this? Do you even know when that was? If you don’t know… ditch it.
- Are you keeping this because Aunt Ethel gave it to you and even though she lives 1200 miles away you’re afraid she’ll know if you throw it away? If so… donate it to a good cause. She’ll never know.
- If this “thing” happens to be a tidbit of information, would you be able to find it again by doing a Google search instead of keeping it in your file cabinet for another three years? If so… trash it.
- Is this something you totally forgot you even owned? And you’ve never even needed it? It’s already “gone” in your mind, so it’s time to make it gone for real.
- Are you keeping this thing because you’re sure that one day it might come in handy? Really? There’s nothing else that you use regularly that wouldn’t replace this useless item that’s taking up space? I doubt it.
- Does this “stuff” happen to be something you thought one day you would get around to doing, like a pattern for a quilt or an Adirondack chair? Re-evaluate where you are now in your life and determine if it’s something you still really want to do. If yes, then by golly, start on it! If no, then it’s time to acknowledge that sometimes your hobbies and goals change and no one can hold you to something you’re no longer interested in. Give them to someone who is.
That ought to cover it! One of these six questions should be sufficient in helping you plow through all the junk you’ve been gathering, weed out the useless and invasive clutter, and free up a significant amount space in your home, office, garage, car… wherever! The side effect is that your mind will magically feel relieved, like you just took a mini vacation. Trust me. Try it.