Why You Need to Let Go Before You Declutter – and How to Do That

Are you stuck inside
right now? With many parts of the world under quarantine, staying sane
has become even more of a challenge than staying healthy.

Whether you’re
self-isolating solo, as part of a couple, or with your extended family, being
confined to your home can take its toll.

For many of us, it
already has. If you’re alone, you’re craving company and if you’re not, all you
can think about is going for a long walk. By yourself.

Complaining won’t change
the situation. If anything, it’ll only make it worse. So, why not use the time
to do something constructive?

I know, it’s the last
thing you want to hear, but think about it. There are only so many books you
can read, Netflix series you can watch, games you can play, and recipes you can
try out.

These activities might
be keeping you busy, but they’re not keeping you productive. And if all you’re
doing is watching the news, you’re more
than likely feeling overwhelmed and depressed, too.

That’s not a good space
to be in right now. Balance is key. As much as we need downtime to recharge our
batteries, so too do we need periods of busy-ness. (You can’t enjoy one without
the other.)

With that in mind, why not tackle something you’ve been putting off? Like decluttering your house or garage. If you’re like most people, you have way too much stuff. You know you need to get rid of at least half of it, but something is holding you back.

The Many Benefits of Decluttering

Decluttering has some amazing benefits. It’ll save you money, leave you less stressed, and make housework a breeze. It also makes you happier. But then, you already know all that.

The problem isn’t that
you don’t want to declutter. It’s that you can’t seem to let go of your stuff.
How many times have you started decluttering only to find yourself stymied by
an inadvertent trip down memory lane?

Surrounded by your
children’s sports trophies, the ugly vase from your now-deceased aunt, running
shoes you’ve yet to lace up, college textbooks from courses you never finished…

You decide (again) to put off decluttering until you figure out what to do with everything. The sad fact of the matter is, letting go of stuff is hard. We hold onto things for all kinds of reasons.

An item may hold
sentimental value for you. There’s also a chance (albeit a slim one) you’ll
need it in the future. Plus, you spent good money on it and don’t want to be

Understanding the psychology of
is an important first step. Once you know why you’re holding onto something, letting it go will be a whole
lot easier. The next time you decide to declutter, you’ll actually get the job

Forgive Your Impulse Buys

Acknowledge your past impulse buys for the
mistakes they were, and move on. We’ve all been there. Whether it’s buying
running shoes when you hate running or buying a Nutribullet when you can’t
stand smoothies, it happens.

Our minds trick us into
believing the item will somehow change us. We imagine ourselves running or
blending with gusto, but we fail to consider the facts. We don’t run, and we
prefer to eat our calories.

Make a pact with
yourself to be more vigilant the next time that happens. Instead of hauling out
your credit card right away, go home and sleep on it. Better yet, run it by a
friend who knows you well (and isn’t afraid of being honest).

Back to that impulse
buy. Think of someone who would love to own a new pair of running shoes or a
highspeed blender and gift it to them. Knowing how much joy they’ll get from it
will make letting go so much easier.

The Money Is Gone (And That’s

There is no point in
keeping something because it was expensive. It’s not going to bring the money
back. You could try recouping some of it on eBay, but either way, you need to
make peace with the mistake and move on.

Instead of seeing it as
money down the drain, view it as payment for a lesson learned. At least now you
know better than to buy something because it’s on sale or because you ‘imagine’
you might use it.

Sometimes, all you need
to do is give yourself permission to let go of perfectly good things. Sell them,
donate them, or give a friend an early Christmas gift. Keeping items you will
never use is only going to remind you of your past mistakes, and nothing good
ever came from that.

Store Your Memories Inside

Sentimental items are
memory receptacles. They remind us of a person, place, or event. Learn to
access your memories from your heart rather than relying on some trinket you
don’t even look at, let alone use.

How often do you look at
the photos and videos on your phone? If you’re like most people, once you’ve
shared them on social media (or showed them to your book club buddies), they
rarely see the light of day again.

That Eiffel Tower
keychain your sister bought you on vacation is still in your junk drawer. It’s
too clunky to actually use, but you can’t bring yourself to let it go either.

You don’t need a photo
or trinket to remind you of the good time you had with her in France. Shut your
eyes, and you’ll be right back in that little coffee shop around the corner
from your hotel.

Before you know it the
aroma of freshly-baked croissants will fill your nostrils. The cute barista’s
smile is as clear and bright as it was when you were there. (Wait, did he just
wink at you or your sister?)

We think we need a
physical reminder to help us tap into our memories, but we don’t. All we need to
hold onto the people and experiences we treasure is ourselves.

When you focus on being fully present and immerse yourself in the moment, that person or event will stay close to your heart forever. Resist the urge to pull out your wallet or camera, and simply be there.

Okay, Now It’s Time to Declutter!

Now that you’ve figured
out why you were keeping all that
stuff, you’ll find the art of decluttering to be a breeze.
Why? Well, because you’ve already let go. All that’s left to do is pack the
stuff up and send it to its new home.

Yes, you might still
feel a pang of guilt for regifting the ugly vase Aunt Berryl gave you on your
wedding day. The difference is, this time you’ll put it in the ‘to go’ box

You’ll smile, secure in
the knowledge that the good times you had with her with always be with you.
Even better, the vase is no longer destined to spend its life gathering dust.
It’s going to someone who will fill it with flowers.

That said, if the thought of letting go is still tripping you up, you can always enlist some help. Joshua Becker’s popular decluttering course is currently open for registration. Take a look at my Uncluttered review to find out more.

Where are you on the
‘letting go’ scale? Is it easy for you to say goodbye to something you no
longer like or use? Are you overly sentimental, hanging onto love letters and
old sweaters because they remind you of someone or something? Or, do you fall
somewhere in between? Let’s have a discussion!