If you’re looking to start 2015 fresh, with a positive attitude, you may want to begin by cleaning and organizing your home. But, if you have trouble throwing things away, getting started can be tough.
Danielle Farrell, marketing coordinator at The Betty Brigade, recommends going room-by-room categorizing your items by Keep, Donate, Recycle, Sell and Trash.
“Have a box or a bag for each type – once they’re full, discard them appropriately,” she said. “If there are any larger or more valuable items you don’t want or really don’t use, consider consignment or eBay to help you sell them and make a little money back.”
Of course, it’s not always that easy to decide what to do with each item. The following guide can help.
Ask: “Why am I Keeping This?”
Author and Spiritual Teacher Barb Schmidt recommends reflecting upon your reason for keeping something for a moment, allowing yourself to feel whatever emotion the item evokes.
“Then, ask yourself, ‘Is it useful?’” she said. “If so, take it out of storage and use it. If you don’t actually need it, then let that item go to someone who could use it. Donate it to a local charity.
“This goes for clothing, too, by the way. If you haven’t worn something in two years, chances are you never will, and someone would probably really appreciate having that article of clothing.”
Ask: “Is it Nice to Look At?”
If the item isn’t useful, but is attractive to look at, Schmidt recommends placing it somewhere in your house where it can be seen.
“If there is no room for it out on display in your home,” she said, “let this item go to someone who can appreciate its beauty by donating it.”
Make a Scrapbook
If you have items that you don’t want to discard, such as a child’s artwork, but you have no room for it, there are alternative ways to preserve these memories.
“We feel the call to keep everything our kids create, of course,” said Schmidt. “But it really is okay to let these things go, too (yes, even to the recycle bin).
She recommends taking photos of your child’s artwork and pasting them into a scrapbook or journal.
“You can also keep photographs of ‘family heirlooms’ in a scrapbook, so they will not be forgotten,” she said. “You can write down some anecdotes about your relatives who owned the items.”
Letting go also comes into play when you are considering family heirlooms, said Schmidt. “Items of value and family heirlooms are things you probably want to hold onto for your children, but really consider whether or not your children will actually want them.
“Chances are, if they are not useful to you and you don’t have them out on display, your children will probably put them in a box someday, too. Is this really honoring the memory of your ancestors? Consider donating these things, putting them on consignment at an antique shop, or finding a relative who does want to use or display them.”
Schmidt even suggests asking your children if they like an item and would like to have it in the future.
“It is considered radical, yes, but it is so very important to have the conversation with our families. Be radical and push the edge.”
Don’t Talk Yourself Out of Letting Go
“If you feel a little guilty or sad letting go of these things,” said Schmidt, “avoid trying to talk yourself out of it by saying things like, ‘Oh, it’s silly for me to feel this way.’ It is not silly.
“Life is a series of letting go … of people, circumstances and material goods. It is perfectly fine to feel sad and perhaps even a little guilty. Sit with the feelings and honor them. Here is another bit of good news: The guilt will not be quite as uncomfortable when you consider that you were really in the moment, giving each item your focused attention as you thoughtfully considered letting it go.”