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#MicroblogMondays 27: Clutter

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I save too much stuff.  It’s time for a massive decluttering.  I need to go through the drawers, go through the cabinets, clear out the storage room.  I need to admit that oversized sweaters from the 80s are not going to have a renaissance.  And I don’t need to save all the back issues of Mental Floss.

Part of the problem with my clutter is that it isn’t really sentimental in nature.  There aren’t, let’s say, a lot of tchotchkes.  My clutter is of the “could be useful” variety.  I can convince myself to save anything with a well-intentioned what if.  What if I need glasses cleaner one day?  What if someone visits our house with a baby and needs a booster seat?  What if I’m in a crazy situation where we need 12 travel mugs at the same time?

I’m prepared.

The other problem is that I hate to waste things, and throwing perfectly useful items into a landfill feels like waste.  It also feels like a waste of money if I end up needing to buy the item again.

We have a wonderful donation solution a few blocks away — a thrift shop that will take anything from kitchen stuff to baby bottles.  I’m going to do it, but it’s hard to get rid of things.  To trust that we have no need for them anymore.

Are the things you save more emotional or “what if” in nature?

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47 comments

1 JustHeather { 03.02.15 at 5:58 am }

I definitely have some sentimental things, but like you, most of it is what if. At the moment, my arts and crafts “what if” stash has been really useful as Paxlet and I create together. These things, I think I will have a hard time parting with, but there is so much more that I should sort out…Now is the time, eh?

2 TasIVFer { 03.02.15 at 6:16 am }

I have both emotional and ‘what if’ stashes.

I cannot get rid of anything to do with my son. His cot, his pram, his onsies, his baby socks, his clothes, etc. It’s emotional, plus a dash of ‘what if’. I know it can’t happen, but what if the mythical stork delivered a bub to me? Sigh.

But I’ve also lived so many lives. I have pus tickets that conjure up my commute to work in Switzerland, the student pass from my time in Paris, the skirt my dear friend in Stockholm bought me at the op shop. How could I ever get rid of them? I look through the boxes to try to declutter, I relive the memories – and I close the boxes back up – perhaps pushed back a bit further so my husband doesn’t mistake this box of rubbish for being rubbish.

When I was 14, my family home burned to the ground. Everything was lost. So I also find a certain comfort in having my things around me – to be padded in memory (and had all sorts of stuff that just might do in the mystical land of ‘some day’).

3 UmaS { 03.02.15 at 6:41 am }

A few shifts made me stronger to let go of things and look for newer substitutes in life !! Even though I am sentimental with a few things, I am OK if they are not there too…some mental make-up I’ve reached, after we sold our home, which was too close to the heart. Other things don’t matter any more.

4 No Baby Ruth { 03.02.15 at 7:14 am }

Mine is decidedly emotional. In fact, I wrote about that side of decluttering today as well! Although, to be clear, the penis straws were a “what if” save!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

5 Valery Valentina { 03.02.15 at 7:17 am }

I just discovered 11 capsules of progesteron. They must have been sitting in my desk drawer for 2.5 years. Now a friend in Canada is worrying about getting meds in time. I didn’t keep them consciously for such an event, but i could not throw out perfectly good medication either.
BTW, where does one find help acquiring medication in Canada if the local dr will not help?

6 Middle Girl { 03.02.15 at 7:47 am }

I live a small-ish space that is shared with two other adults, a dog, and two cats. And then, I brought in much of my mom’s things after her death.

Recalcitrant purging has been the order of the day for the past year or so.

Clothing items are the easiest to donate or toss as warranted.

7 Anamika Agnihotri { 03.02.15 at 8:38 am }

This post reminds me of organising the cabinets, drawers and the kitchen in my home too. A few years ago I settled upon the philosophy that if there is something in the house that has not been used for the last 6 months or has been existing oblivious to my memory, then probably it is not going to be used any time in future too and so it is time to do away with it The only thing that I am sentimental about parting are the books, just cannot give them away.
I am new to Microblog Mondays and today I posted my first post here.

8 SRB { 03.02.15 at 8:41 am }

I am a “What If” saver…usually things like pencils and elastic bands. I cannot throw out an elastic band. Bizarre. My jewellery box though, is much more emotional, despite wearing the same earrings and just my wedding set everyday. Strangely, I was planning to write about this soon. Getting rid of one emotional item in there has emboldened me to take a second pass and get rid of a few more. No “What if” on those items. More like a “Should keep”. But….why?

9 Kaeleigh { 03.02.15 at 8:57 am }

Emotional. I have two or three boxes of things that are sentimental. Notes from Jr and Sr High school. Pictures of all my old boyfreinds. Any mementos from past relationships or trips I’ve taken. They aren’t big boxes (cigar boxes is what they actually are) But I cannot part with them. Despite that I’ve been out of high school for almost 13 years and that I’ve been with this current BF ( my HUSBAND) for 10.

10 Mary Francis { 03.02.15 at 9:13 am }

I have to have a mega-sort out. I have decided to award myself ten points for each bag of stuff I give away, then when I habe fifty points reward myself with a new dress! It might work. Recycling things that belonged to my parents is hardest. I grit my teeth and say, “they don’t need this anymore, and neither do I!”

11 Buttermilk { 03.02.15 at 10:04 am }

I have very few clutter items anymore. What I do have is more “what if” than sentimental items but I do have a little of both. I find that moving house six times in the last ten years has really helped me shed clutter.

12 loribeth { 03.02.15 at 10:15 am }

A bit of both. I’ve been trying to do mini-purge projects, but I need to do more — including, I have reluctantly decided, my books. ๐Ÿ™ Like you, I cannot simply throw (most) stuff out, it just feels wasteful. And so we haul stuff to a local thrift shop or donations bin. Drives dh nuts, but it makes me feel better, and if they decide they can’t use or sell it, then it’s their problem. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Since I lost my job, I have been living mostly in yoga pants & T-shirts — and staring at my closets (plural) full of work pants and tops and sweaters that are not getting worn anymore. I don’t want to do a major purge just yet, but I can see that I am just not going to be wearing a lot of this stuff anymore, no matter how nice it is. Likewise my makeup — I did a big purge when I was first laid off (anything that I knew was ancient or looked or smelled off), but I still have tons of stuff that is just not getting used anymore.

The books are in the basement, and it’s damned cold down there right now, so I’m saving that project for when the weather gets warmer and a cool basement will be a welcoming place. At least that’s my excuse. ๐Ÿ˜‰

13 Rachel { 03.02.15 at 10:32 am }

I save nothing. It drives my husband crazy. I either donate or I never take/buy it to begin with. Even when I go to conferences for work I don’t take the freebies unless they’re something I’ll actually use. But I grew up in a cluttered home of things that they may need one day… And it makes me feel like I’m suffocating. So I don’t let my furniture touch and no surface is cluttered and if I have trouble opening or closing something then it all gets purged… But my hubby is a major “I’ll keep it cause I may needed it one day” kind of person so I can see your side too.

14 Ann Z { 03.02.15 at 10:35 am }

I’m definitely a “what if” saver. Growing up, my mom was the same way, and any time there was any school arts or crafts project, she was totally prepared. I’m trying to get rid of some of my clutter, in part because I’m not able to turn stuff into great things like my mom is.

15 Isabelle { 03.02.15 at 10:42 am }

I am both. I save things for sentimental value but I also save things for “what-ifs” later. However, more than often times I find that when I want to find something that I had saved for later, I can’t find it. It’s buried somewhere in the basement. Another factor is laziness. I just throw things in the basement and not see them.

16 earthandink { 03.02.15 at 10:50 am }

I’m actually pretty good at tossing. The things I have a problem with: clothes in a smaller size than I am right now, books!, art supplies. All of those are hard. I recently did clothes, keeping some but getting rid of about 3/4s of them. Books and art supplies I’m not doing. So I’m going to be dealing with the odds and ends soon.

17 Lindsay | Solo Mama { 03.02.15 at 11:09 am }

I’m really good at tossing/donating stuff. I don’t really get attached to ‘things’ very much at all. That being said, I sure struggled letting go of Evelyn’s baby stuff & clothes. I think because it meant I was saying goodbye to the chance of having a second baby (at least on my own), and that hurt my heart a little (okay, a lot).

18 KeAnne { 03.02.15 at 11:33 am }

We are practically hoarders LOL. We have both emotional and “what if” stuff we save. We really need to become more ruthless about culling our stuff. Like you, I prefer to donate if possible. Daniel has started to refuse to let us donate old toys, even baby toys! Looks like we have another saver in the making.

19 Jennifer { 03.02.15 at 12:00 pm }

As a teacher my classroom was FILLED with what if stuff, especially because I frequently changed grades. What was junk in a fourth grade classroom is suddenly a treasure to a first grader. I think when it comes to our house, my husband is worse with the “what if” kind of stuff. Our kitchen is filled with stuff that we use at best once or twice a year. Moving to another country has helped me curb my desire for stuff. So much of our stuff ended up (temporarily) lost or destroyed and I have learned to live with so little.

20 Jen { 03.02.15 at 12:39 pm }

I save things even if there’s just the slightest chance I’ll want them again. Trying to be more disciplined about letting go.

21 Sharon { 03.02.15 at 12:44 pm }

I have clutter really for neither reason these days (although in the past, it was more of the sentimental variety). Now it’s more because I’m a “I’ll deal with it later” person. No time to sort through something and make a decision about it? Shove it in a box and put said box in the garage or guest room/office.

Why I think I will have more time/energy/desire to deal with these things in the future than I have now, I have no idea. . . .

22 Shail { 03.02.15 at 12:56 pm }

I have a rule. If I haven’t used them in a couple of years, then I don’t need them. I give them away to those who might want them. It is true we might have to buy them again in case the need arises, but then it is ‘in case’ ๐Ÿ˜€

23 nicoleandmaggie { 03.02.15 at 1:20 pm }

I almost bought an over-sized 80s style sweater at Ann Taylor Loft the other month… I think if you can wear them again at any point, now is the time. (With leggings!) I didn’t buy it though, because I’m too old to have a place to wear it even if they’re in style for the students.

24 Junebug { 03.02.15 at 1:28 pm }

We are so in tune at the moment. I had the same conversation with my husband yesterday, and we are going to be attempting the spring clean over the next few weeks.

Another challenge I started – cleaning up iTunes with all the songs we never listen to (you know, from the albums we used to buy) that clogs our ability to create nice playlists. I feel so empowered to be eliminating clutter there too!

25 torthuil { 03.02.15 at 2:38 pm }

I’d gotten pretty good at disposing of clutter and keeping both sentimental and “what if” items to a minimum….and then, baby came, and I’m not sure I’m the same person anymore lol. We did a lot of de-cluttering BEFORE she was born, so the house is well organized and it will be a while before clutter/stuff is a problem, but well, sooner or later. I’m currently filling up the second box of outgrown baby clothes, and sooner or later she’ll start outgrowing some of her gear. And then there is my wardrobe of pre-baby clothes, many of which (like all the bottoms and dresses) don’t fit right now. I don’t want to sell or give them away until I reach pre-baby weight and can assess if they will ever fit again or if I still want them, but if that takes too long or I just cease to care I’ll have to just make a decision. I am trying to be really thoughtful of how much I acquire so I don’t have to deal with this sort of thing a lot.

26 Catwoman73 { 03.02.15 at 2:56 pm }

I throw everything in the garbage. I have no sentimental attachments to my stuff, and I figure that if I need something again someday, I’ll buy a new one. I suppose it comes from growing up in a military family. When you move a lot, the less stuff you have, the better.

My husband, on the other hand, saves EVERYTHING. It has been a real point of contention with us, because his clutter makes me insane. I am slowly getting him to get rid of the potentially useful clutter, but I suspect we will die with his sentimental stuff in our basement (and kitchen, and living room, and bedroom….). One step at a time, I suppose.

27 jjiraffe { 03.02.15 at 3:18 pm }

Oversized 80s sweaters are totally back! https://winknpout.wordpress.com/2014/02/06/14-ways-to-wear-oversized-sweaters/

We gave away yet more baby clothes this weekend. I’m a minimalist with everything except baby clothes. Getting rid of baby clothes makes me sad.

28 Mali { 03.02.15 at 3:19 pm }

I’m very unemotional about some possessions, but completely go nuts if my husband is going to throw out an empty shoebox, that I might be able to use! There’s no rhyme or reason to what I keep though. “What-ifs” more than sentiment, though sentiment comes into play too.

29 Laurel Regan { 03.02.15 at 3:22 pm }

I’ve moved a lot, so I tend to be fairly ruthless when it comes to getting rid of stuff. That said, it’s amazing to me just how fast it accumulates! We’ve only been in this house for three years, after getting rid of huge amounts of stuff to move across the country, and already there are several boxes of things to be taken in for donation.

30 Geochick { 03.02.15 at 3:34 pm }

My clutter is totally the what-if variety. I hate to get rid of something’s no on the off chance that it’ll be needed in the future.

31 Cristy { 03.02.15 at 4:48 pm }

I hate decluttering. Though I love the end result, the process is incredibly traumatic.

Sending you love as you go through this process.

32 Em { 03.02.15 at 5:48 pm }

Yup, I must confess I’m a bit of a hoarder especially when it comes to things of sentimental value. Although, that being said, decluttering is definitely on my list of things to do.

33 Jess { 03.02.15 at 5:57 pm }

I save EVERYTHING. In both worlds. So funny, I just wrote a post about the difference between me (NOT a hoarder, but an, uh, archivist of memories) and my husband (purge everything, live like a spy who must have no trace of history to be found!). I thought it was a really great step to get rid of a bunch of magazines from four years ago that I was going to read “someday” but never did… that was huge. I keep clothes in case they’ll fit again (I did get rid of a size I’m pretty sure I’ll never see again unless I fall horribly ill and no one wants that), paper supplies in case they’ll be useful one day, and never, ever get rid of books. Although I’ve been doing book swaps and trying to let go of titles I’ve lent and probably will never see again. Emotionally, I keep it all in there… memories, hurts, joys, events. I hold all the dates and memories that my husband has told me about, for him, too. It’s like files in my mind. Sort of exhausting sometimes, but also lovely to have everything to access. Of course I feel like my short-term memory is a disaster, so maybe a little file purging is in order. Basically, I am cluttered but a custodian of things and memories and emotions, and I am trying really hard to be more organized about it all.

Wow, what a powerful last thought… “to trust that we have no need for them anymore.” That’s tough, but also maybe freeing.

34 Stephanie (Travelcraft Journal) { 03.02.15 at 6:18 pm }

The things I save are emotional AND what if. Yeah. It’s a problem. But I’ve gotten much better about getting rid of stuff.

35 Rain { 03.02.15 at 8:08 pm }

I vacillate wildly between letting go and holding on. Why do I need my high school year books? Or a piece of fabric from my childhood curtains (made by my mother and me)? On the other hand…I remember looking through my grandmother’s year books and being in awe of what life looked like back then…

36 Turia { 03.02.15 at 8:09 pm }

Ooh, I like Jess’ idea of an “archivist of memory”. That’s me for sure. We do have a basement storage room I need to go through that has a lot of “what if” in there, but most of the storage up in my study is sentimental. I am getting better though, but I still hate hate hate parting with books. Right now I try not to buy them at all- just get them from the library, but I struggle to purge, even books I’ve never read and I know I will never read.

I am becoming more disposed to purging. Partly this is maybe a result of getting older and realizing just how much stuff we have (and how much of it we don’t need), but part of it is related to having E., because he now has SO MUCH stuff, and reacting against the influx of baby/toddler/preschooler/little boy stuff has made me more willing to purge my own.

When we moved E. into his new room, and my study moved into his old room, I recycled four years of subscriptions to horse magazines that I had been holding on to in case I wanted to read them again. So that was a step. But I need to tackle the books.

Our second basement storage room is filled to the brim with baby stuff and outgrown clothes. I want to get rid of it all. That’s the goal for the spring.

37 Justine { 03.02.15 at 8:50 pm }

Huh … how about that … I wrote about keeping things, too. Before I even looked at your post.

I’m definitely the Queen of Purge (as I called myself in my post). But only after I think that someone else can use something better than I can. And I guess I borrow or get handed down lots of things in the first place, so I feel a little less badly about giving them to someone else. It’s worked that way for clothes and toys and baby items; I always try to imagine that someone else is getting use and enjoyment out of something that I would be holding onto only for memory now. And I also try to think that sometimes if I give something away that I haven’t used in a long, long time, if I really needed it again some day, it would find its way back to me, somehow or other. Misplaced trust/hope, maybe. But it helps.

Sending you kind thoughts in the purge … I know it’s not easy.

38 Queenie { 03.02.15 at 9:13 pm }

I am EXACTLY like you. My husband is the opposite, and always wants to get rid of everything. I find it wasteful. He thinks I’m a pack rat. I come by it honestly, though. I come from a family of thrifty old Yankees. And hey, you never know when you might need a whoseywhatsitt….

39 gradualchanges { 03.02.15 at 9:21 pm }

Holy Moses… I could have written then post. I even have the 12 travel mugs (not counting the 6 or 7 I JUST got rid of). Who needs that many mugs? No one, except me apparently – just in case…

This is a very timely topic for me as I’m self admittedly a bit of a hoarder. I feel bad when I throw things away, and the “I might NEED it someday” mentality is hard to fight. But since I’m in the process of packing my apartment to move, it’s a major issue. Good luck with your purge. I’ll keep working on mine.

40 JoAnne Applebaugh { 03.02.15 at 9:50 pm }

I’m the same way. Most of my stuff is “this could be useful” stuff. It’s hard to let it go because, well, it could be useful. What if someone needs a LAN cable? What if someone wants to watch that gifted copy of The Devil Wears Prada? What if this one block of knives all get used and I need to grab the other set?

I also have some things that people may say are sentimental. My stuffed animal collection, for example. I’m really bad about anthropomorphizing things… but stuffed animals shouldn’t count in that, right? They really do have personalities. Heck, two of them are avatars for my husband and I. (If you’re having a difficult time communicating and taking constructive criticism, then let me tell you, taking it from a stuffed duck (him) or bunny (me) is MUCH easier.) And, of course, there are our childhood teddies, who have been with us through good times, bad times, and cough-bracing times for 30 years… and the stuffed animal bunny and ducky that were supposed to represent our children — they’ve been around for about 9 years now, but there are still no actual babies… and there is the puppy that I got for my nephew when he was little, and the Duck from the book Duck for President and Click, Clack, Moo…

They all hang out (literally) in a hammock in the corner of our room — staying safe and well cared for in between times when we need them for cuddling (and/or as a brace against a cough).

But I probably should go through that bin of cables.

41 Jamie { 03.03.15 at 12:13 am }

Both. But, I’ve made improvements in the what if department. I hate to throw things away, but I’ve found good places for donating or recycling. Less is more, or at least that is the mode I am in right now.

42 Suzy { 03.03.15 at 5:49 am }

Over the Christmas hols, I cleared out half the stuff from my garage. That was liberating. Having done that my de-cluttering my closet should be a breeze. If only!

43 Shailaja { 03.03.15 at 7:32 am }

Ah, don’t even begin to talk about decluttering. I have a bed covered with stuff I need to give away and nobody can use that room anymore, thanks to the massive piles of clothing there. Definitely in the ‘what if’ category. Gosh, I wasn’t like this. Earlier, I would toss stuff away without a second thought. Now, I think, I ponder and I contemplate. Too much , I tell you ๐Ÿ˜‰

44 Kasey { 03.03.15 at 7:52 am }

I used to keep EVERYTHING. But I had a room and a barn at my parents house. When they got divorced and sold the house I was forced to go though the childhood emotional things. I have two boxes of scrapbooks in my mom’s basement now. I’m much better at getting rid of all types of things now – but that is more a function of space. We have a tiny (700 sq ft) apartment and I can’t function in a mess. I spend a lot of my weekends de-cluttering. The things I have held on to are probably here forever. The one thing I really need to work on is getting rid of the clothes I am never going to wear but keep because I know how much I spent on them.

45 noemi { 03.03.15 at 1:02 pm }

I was inspired to comment but then I realized I had so much to say it was a whole post. So I wrote that instead. ๐Ÿ˜‰

http://notawastedword.com/declutting-without-regret/

46 Lori Lavender Luz { 03.03.15 at 5:51 pm }

You and I share similar thoughts on waste.

Twenty years ago, a friend was helping me move. She held up a paper clip and hair band from a random drawer and said, “the furniture is easy to move. It’s this kind of stuff that is hard.”

So true. So hard to make the decision to keep or throw (when it’s not even worth taking to Goodwill).

To top it off, I’m both an emotional and a what if saver. But I’ve been getting familiar with aparigraha (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aparigraha).

47 TasIVFer { 03.04.15 at 5:26 am }

It everyone is so anti-clutter, why do you acquire so much stuff in the first place?

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