At the heart of any organization project is a decision -- to keep, or not to keep. Finding systems, shortcuts and containers that complement your styles is important, but even the best of these containers is neither bottomless nor infinitely expandable. Like it or not, going through the "stuff" and determining what to keep and what to toss (or dispose of otherwise) is an important step toward getting organized, and the L in STYLE: Let it Go!
For many people, this is the most difficult part of organizing -- just ask an I love stuff person. The mere mention of getting rid of anything is painful to those with this style because often, each item holds a memory or significance, endowing it with a life of its own.
Cram and jammers and I know I put it somewhere organizers, on the other hand, are usually able to be more heartless about this task (unless, of course, their personal style is I love stuff!) They may not like the labor involved, but their "out of sight out of mind" outlook makes it easier for them to separate trash from treasure. I love to be busy folks and drop and run organizers may also have little difficulty making the "keep or toss" decision because their organizational struggles typically arise more from a lack of time than from an attachment to their things. And we I need to see it people are often delighted to get rid of things because it reduces the pile and, along with it, the feeling of being overwhelmed by how much we have to do.
That's not to say this is a simple task. Sure, some things are easy to let go of (that pile of old magazines you keep stubbing your toe on), but others -- the things with sentimental value -- pose more of a challenge.
Fortunately, throwing things away isn't the only way to clear the clutter -- unless you're talking about something that poses a health hazard, like, say, a week's worth of banana peels. It probably goes without saying that anything that invites unwelcome visitors of the insect or rodent variety should be disposed of. Quickly.
But believe it or not, there are a few other things that fit into the easily expendable category as well. All of the following can be thrown away or recycled relatively painlessly:
- Things that are torn, broken, or missing pieces
- Half a pair of anything
- Things that are outdated (e.g back issues of magazines)
- Things you no longer use or need (including clothing that no longer fits or is out of style)
As for everything else, when you're trying to downsize, but tossing things into the trash isn't easy, you might consider:
- Reselling: For those who get attached to their things (yes, my I love stuff friends, this means you), sending them to a new home can make parting with them less painful. But for some of us, nothing short of the lure of cold, hard cash can soothe the ache that accompanies getting rid of our "stuff." I have friends who do yard sales every year, freeing up space and raking in cash at the same time. Reselling, whether through a garage sale, consignment shop or church bazaar, allows us to get things we no longer use or need out of our homes and helps us to "do good" at the same time. After all, someone else might just love that flowery dress or set of dishes that's not your style.
- Recycling: Think outside the recycle bin to the broadest possible definition of recycling: giving new life to old things. When we put it in those terms, it's about more than just tossing a rinsed out soda bottle into the recycling container. It can be about finding new homes for things we've loved but no longer need, or using an old container in a new way. Repurposing an item not only gives you an excuse for keeping it, but also makes the item earn its keep.
Lots of useful but unnecessary items can find new homes or new life. Did you know you can recycle blue jeans? Ship off that plastic hotel key you brought home by mistake to a place where it can be melted down and made into...more plastic hotel keys? Donate the reusable grocery bags that seem to overrun your car when you don't need them but hide from you when you do?
If you have something you're ready to get rid of, but have no idea how to find it a new home, check out Wow, You Can Recycle That? for ideas.
If you're like me, you'll end up bookmarking it for future reference.
Copyright 2015 Lisa Hess
Logo background image:†"Unageek color" by Unageek (2013) via Morguefile. Text added†in Canva.
About the Author
Lisa Lawmaster Hess is a transplanted Jersey girl who writes both fiction and non-fiction. Lisa’s latest book is the award-winning Know Thyself: The Imperfectionist’s Guide to Sorting Your Stuff. A retired elementary school counselor, Lisa is an adjunct professor of psychology at York College. She blogs at The Porch Swing Chronicles, Organizing by STYLE, and here at Catholicmom.com. Read all articles by Lisa Hess.