Looking around your home, do you smile as you remember the joyful moments you’ve experienced over the years: the first time you crossed the threshold as a new homeowner, that spot on the living room rug where your child took her first steps, or the dining room table where you’ve shared countless family dinners and holidays? This is what a home is about. However, over the years the joyful moments in your home may get lost in physical mementos and other clutter you hold onto due to lack of time and attention or an inability to make a decision about getting rid of things. Having recently worked with a couple who’d been in their home for over 30 years, I personally witnessed the long term effect of delaying the purging and decluttering process: boxes of taxes from the 1990’s and prior occupying valuable attic space and encouraging animal invasion (rats love paper), kid mementos that no one could identify as to who they belonged to or why they were saved to begin with, and entertaining supplies that were neither functional nor reflective of the hosts current tastes. There’s a cost to holding onto all this stuff!
Functional space becomes limited or unavailable – During my initial intake process, many potential clients complain that their homes are small or not functional. However, once we pare down their belongings and establish containers that are the right size and shape they realize it’s not the space, but rather how they have been using it. When you stash random items in cabinets and drawers or on shelves, you lose the ability to use those spaces for things that actually do need a home. e.g. A centrally located kitchen cabinet full of infrequently used kitchen appliances (e.g. fondue pot, panini maker, cookie press, etc.) that you hardly use or office shelves filled with stacks of outdated books and paperwork that are could be better used for supplies and resources you actually need.
Your children and family bear the burden – If you plan to be in your home for the long term then you’ll want to clarify for your descendants and family members what is meaningful or valuable. Otherwise you’ll be leaving them with a huge task of going through individual items to determine what to toss or donate and your efforts to save items of importance will be in vain. We recently helped a renowned psychiatrist and prolific author catalog his book collection. He wanted the legacy of his research to be preserved after he was gone and knew there was a subset of people who would be interested in his work. Had he not gone through this exercise, his children would have been overwhelmed with the research process or may have just given up and donated the books to a local library. Let this mantra guide your process, “I never want someone else to have to go through my stuff and decide what’s important. I want to be the boss while I can.” – Donna Brazile, O Magazine’s – Decluttering Tips
The task becomes greater – The longer you wait to tackle a decluttering project, the longer it will likely take. Think about the small stack of papers that seems manageable on your desk, but when left untouched for weeks on end becomes large and burdensome, as well as an eyesore. Or, the messy garage you kept meaning to clear, but is now so crowded you can’t even walk through it. What started as a small project has grown so monumental you don’t even know where to begin. When potential clients contact me with queries about organizing help, if they decide not to engage my services at the moment it’s often because they think they will get to it themselves. When they call back a few days or weeks later to book an organizing session, the first thing I hear is, “I wish I’d done this sooner, it’s only gotten worse.”
If you don’t want to suffer the inevitable cost of too much stuff, let it go! Live lighter and you’ll spend less time managing, moving, and organizing your stuff and have more time to enjoy your life now!
Photo Credit: Randy Heinitz