I am an anti-hoarder. I regularly pace around the rooms of my apartment looking for items I can give away and piling them into bags to donate. My bookshelf gets cased several times a year, and any book that I will never read again or that doesn’t give me a warm, happy feeling goes straight to the local library. I sort through my closet on a routine basis, removing any clothes I haven’t worn lately and setting them aside for the downtown women’s shelter.
I am unattached to many of my material things in part because I have moved around often in my adult life, times when I couldn’t hold on to all my books or clothes or knick-knacks, even if I wanted to. I learned that objects do not hold power over my memories. I can toss the dress I graduated college in and rest assured I will never forget that happy day; I can donate the first set of dishes I ever bought because the thrill of moving into a place of my own lives in my heart – not on ceramics.
Do you find yourself holding on to material possessions that you know you really don’t need? Do you fear that you are just a couple of shopping trips away from appearing on a TV show, living in nest of chipped coffee cups, broken electronics and used makeup? Try the follow tips to cut down on the clutter in your life.
1. Give to a good cause
When I take a few bags of old clothes, magazines and gifted toiletries I’ll never use to the local women’s shelter, they act like I just donated a thousand dollars. I realize how much more these women need my extra bath towels and old jewelry than I do. It reminds me how lucky I am, and inspires me to return on a regular basis. Donating to your local library, church or other charitable center gives new life to the old stuff in the bottom of your closet. Keep a box or bag for giveaways. Establish a bin for donating items with a permanent place in your closet or garage. When it gets full, it gets donated.
2. Stay small
When I lived in a two-story house, I had far more possessions than I do now, living in a small urban apartment. And I am far happier – less crap to deal with, and fewer rooms to clean! Humans can be like goldfish – we grow to the size of our fishbowls. The bigger your house, the more stuff you will think you need. Consider your true needs before upsizing your surroundings into a bigger home like the Joneses.
3. Set rules
Many people with a hoarding problem actually have a shopping problem. Set ground rules for yourself about your purchases so that you don’t have to trust your willpower in stressful situations; often we are more excited about the thrill of the sale than the actual merchandise. I never purchase a new item of clothing unless I can think of three new places to wear it – that’s my rule, and it helps me to avoid wasting money on pretty dresses that will sit in my closet unworn. Set stout financial goals for yourself, whether they are retirement savings, a college fund for your kid, a home of your own or vacation. My priority is travel, and when I’m tempted to overspend on my preferred vices (new clothes and restaurant meals) I think: would I rather put this $50 towards my travel fund? The answer is almost always yes – and then I hop online into my bank accounts and put the money I almost spent into savings.
4. Calendar reminders
Your house is probably filled with drawers, shelves and closets that attract messes like a magnet. Cleaning them out all at once would be overwhelming, so just plan to clean out one per month, which is easy. Put reminders on your calendar to jog your memory.
5. Make new memories
If you feel like the best days of your life are behind you, you will try to hold on to physical relics of happy days, which act like a warm blanket on your soul. But those objects are taking up space in your life that could be better used for new projects and new inspiration. Plan new adventures in your life and remind yourself that the best is yet to come for you, and watch your attachment to old items fade.