Body & Mind

For the Love of Stuff

By: Mary Spearman

I have an obsession with stuff.  We all have stuff, but I sometimes go to thrift stores and buy other people’s stuff, which creates a problem of an overstuffed house. This is a habit that I have had to work on. To break myself, I tell myself that it is ok to look and not buy at these thrift stores, unless it is something really useful or unique. Then, I pounce like a hungry cat on a sweet little mouse. 

Over the years I have developed a system to help me purge the unnecessary or undesirable stuff in my collection of things. First, I ask myself, does this item have a purpose?  Does it bring joy? Is it useful? Have I even seen it in the last year or two? It is always surprising when I answer no to all of those questions.  If I decide to purge the item I place it in a donation bag or box.  I keep a donation bag by the door.  I place items in it that may have a purpose for someone. I try to purge all year long a little at a time.  That is my method for cleaning out and reorganizing throughout the year. Donations need to be items that are useful for someone. Broken items or stained items should be trashed. 

Every year when Christmas decorations come down, I have a more thorough clean out.  One of the rules to decor and organization is to group like items.  That is something I definitely need to work on.  For example, if you have junk drawers, and they all contain a few batteries, it would be better if you had one container and one place in the house that housed all of your batteries.  I think I have about 10 Junk drawers or more throughout the house.  I will be giving them a good clean out soon.  I plan on keeping what is important, and getting rid of the rest.  I think it will be helpful to have a drawer for batteries, and one for fasteners, and maybe one for tape or other items that I have multiples of.  

My true weakness as a writer and reader, is books.  I have tons of books and I find it very difficult to part with my favorites. This year I am setting a goal to purge some.  I found a website called Decluttr that might be helpful. According to their website, they will pay you for your old books, cd’s, and even cell phones or computer games.  This one is worth checking out.  

Decluttering when you love stuff so much can be stressful.  It really is like eating an elephant. Don’t try to do it all in one day if you have years worth of stuff.  Set aside a couple of hours per week and focus on one area of the house until you are satisfied with that area.  Realize that by giving your things to a good charity you are also helping others. By donating you also get a tax receipt if you ask for one. Donations to some charity thrift stores can be counted on your tax return and help lower your overall tax burden.  

Clutter happens over time  and before you realize it you have 500 bottles of half used conditioner in your bathroom. Bathrooms and kitchens require a purge of out of date or items. Watch the dates on old medication, or beauty products.  Those should just be purged and thrown away or disposed of properly. One thing I have discovered is that the more space I have to keep products in my bathroom, the more I have that I don’t use.  This can apply to any item in your home really.  There is a thing called the 80/20 rule. Lots of organizers talk about how we only use or wear 20% of our things 80% of the time. So that means, we have 80% too much stuff and we need to really think about what is important and what isn’t.  My rule is, if I haven’t worn it in a year, and it is still in my closet, I am probably not going to wear it.  So, I try to purge those items I haven’t used or worn in a year.

Clutter seems to come with age.  I don’t know why, but I have noticed that my parents’ generation held onto things much tighter than my generation. Likewise, I keep more stuff around than my son.  He doesn’t want anything in his small studio apartment that he doesn’t use. The trend in giving and living seems to be to give experiences not things. Considering the 80/20 rule, I think that is probably a wise trend.