01 April 2014

My #1 decluttering excuse, and why it's not good enough (sponsored)

This post is sponsored by Goodwill.

"I might need it someday."

That, friends, is why decluttering is a constant challenge even though I wrote a book that celebrates decluttering.

Calling it an excuse might be a bit harsh. It's a reason, and it seems like a good one. After all, I paid money for that thing (whatever it is), and giving it away feels like throwing that money in the trash. In my mind, that's wasteful, and maybe even a little spoiled.

Slowly but surely, stuff turns into clutter. And clutter sows frustration which grows into anxiety which eventually ends with me avoiding my own house.

All because "I might need it someday."

It seems silly. I mean, it's just stuff, right? Stuff I brought into my home for a reason -- to solve a problem, to beautify a room, or to delight my kids. But priorities change and reasons go away, and that very same stuff turns into its own problem.

I might need it someday isn't good enough.

Writing Minimalist Parenting with Christine helped me get clear on the true power of decluttering. It's much more than cleaning house. Once I was able to reframe decluttering as giving -- as opposed to "throwing away" -- my attitude completely changed.

A weekly Goodwill run has become a regular part of my routine. There's a Goodwill donation site on the way to my grocery store, and most weeks I have a bag or box stashed in the trunk ready to donate. Not only do I know my stuff is going to someone who might not otherwise be able to afford it, Goodwill uses the money it raises in part to train and employ people in my community. My stuff helps creates jobs.

Now, decluttering doesn't make me feel wasteful or spoiled at all. I know I'm sharing. Empowering, even. And that feels a lot better than the false sense of security that comes with hanging onto clutter.

This post was made possible through the support of Goodwill. All opinions are my own.

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I had to tell myself that I would make a mistake and regret at least one donation, but that would be rare and most donations would be freeing. After I accepted that, it was easy.

You know what, Courtney? I've experienced it! I gave away something I later wish I hadn't. Once, it was a small, inexpensive, replaceable thing, and another time it was a piece of furniture. Both times I was hit with that twinge of regret, a little internal scolding, and then I just moved on.

If I were to quantify it, decluttering has caused about 5% regret and 95% relief.

Yes! SO MUCH YES! My "counterrationalization" include a) well, I can go buy another one at Goodwill or online for cheap b) if I haven't used it by now/at least a couple times within the last year, I can probably borrow or rent it next time I need it!

We have a "donation station" inspired by the Clutter Diet (Lori Marrero). And I keep a list of items with it, so that we can itemize at tax time.

Nicole T: Itemize at tax time! You just leveled up, my friend.

PS. That's a picture of the actual crap in my basement, by the way. It's not really crap -- that's after I decluttered! (I didn't say I was organized.)

Goodwill is a fabulous resource, and we're lucky enough to have multiple locations near our Denver home. Giving to Goodwill has a dual purpose, and the sense of relief you'll get after coming home to a less cluttered space is an added bonus. We also consider giving goods away to friends, parents with children younger than our boys and anyone who could benefit from things we simply don't need anymore. It's a mindset shift, and this post is a nudge in the right direction.

Asha, This is the first time I have commented on your blog, but I truly enjoy your practical posts all the time. As my husband always says: "Less is More" and to quote my good friend: "Too much stuff makes you crazy."

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