I know that Fall isn’t typically the time we think about decluttering. Right now we’re adding layers; sweaters, leggings, body fat (winter is coming, don’t be jealous that I’ve gotten a head start by not working on my bikini body this past summer).
Normally we think about decluttering in the Spring because that tends to be a season of clearing out; opening windows, deep cleaning, purging to make space for new things. But, I’m of the mind that we should use every new season as an opportunity to declutter, especially if we’re not in the habit of doing it on the regular.
This past weekend, I went fall clothes shopping with my daughter (we were after boots, can you feel me on all the cute boots, ladies???), and I used this as an opportunity to eliminate some things I knew it was time to let go of.
Letting go can be so hard, though. I personally struggle with things that are still in great shape, but look awful on me now (maybe my winter sweater body has something to do with that…*note to self – check to see if sweater weather body is why you can’t fit into some of your clothes*). Or things that really are a bit dated now and I never really got to wear them enough.
I have found that a good way to assist in pulling off the proverbial Band-Aid as it relates to purging and decluttering, is to ask myself these key questions:
- Have I used or worn this item in the last year? This is a popular one I know a lot of people use, but it really works for the most part. The only exception I give myself is fine china. Don’t toss that just because you haven’t used it in a year. My mother fully expects the Queen of England may show up at her house one day unexpectedly, and I don’t see why I shouldn’t expect the same.
- Am I just being cheap? Holding on to something because you spent a lot of money on it in the past doesn’t diminish the fact that you aren’t getting any use out of it. Donate or gift it to someone who could really use it.
- Would I buy this right now if I were out shopping? I mean obviously not if you already own it, but if you didn’t own it. I also ask myself if something like this still exists, or if I’d have to go to a costume shop for an 80’s party to find it.
- Will I really use it? Do I have something that serves the same purpose? This is sound advice, and for the most part it really makes sense. Make it a point to have one really nice thing of whatever it is, and just that one thing. I have to come clean and admit that here is one area where this is an Achilles heel for me, however. I have too many serving pieces, but I sometimes do have a use for them. The problem is that it’s not terribly often, so most of the time they’re just taking up space. (Also shoes. This really can’t apply to shoes. I’ll win that argument every time.)
- Does it fit my physical space? Sometimes we’re unaware of the things we’re accumulating over time. For example, we add new home decor without purging the old stuff. Or really purging it fully, like giving it away rather than storing it somewhere “just in case”. If your tastes have changed, or styles change, and you have gravitated toward a new look, be honest about the fact that you’re not going back to that old decor. Every once in a while I try to do “inventory” on my decor. Sometimes I just can’t afford to replace it, so I keep it until I can, but sometimes it’s just that I’ve sort of stopped seeing it, and I need to re-evaluate my physical space with fresh eyes.
- Is it worth fixing? Do you have broken items taking up counter, drawer, dresser, or desk space? Maybe sitting on a garage workbench? I’ve been guilty of this too many times. What I try to do is just set a time that I’m going to focus on all of the things that need fixing. I work through all of those items, really asking myself what I want to fix. Is it worth it? Will I honestly use it again once it’s fixed? If it sat broken for months on end, did you really need it at all?
- Am I emotionally attached? For many people, this is the biggest reason they can’t part with things. The emotional attachment is just too great. It was Great Aunt Bertha’s and everyone loved Great Aunt Bertha (or so we were told, I never actually knew her). Sometimes we have things we’ve kept from past romantic relationships. Maybe an old boyfriend from twenty-five years ago gave you a sweatshirt you’re still hanging on to. To which I would say, it was twenty-five years ago, it’s more than time to move on, and if that relationship was meant to be, he’d be living in your house right now and you’d be washing his dirty sweatshirts every week.
I’ve often found that once I purge something I thought I really needed to hang on to for some reason, I never think about it again. There’s rarely any regret (if at all) about getting rid of things that no longer serve you.
Try asking yourself these questions as you move through the decluttering process, and let me know how it goes. You can send me pictures on Twitter or Instagram of your decluttering projects, I’d love to see them!