How to Combat Clutter Excuses

How to Combat Clutter Excuses

If there is one place that most people get stuck in the organizing process it’s all the decisions that have to be made with regards to letting go of our stuff. These decisions can often be overwhelming because of the scripts we are constantly battling in our minds that prevent us from making healthy decisions about our clutter.

Here’s how you can combat some of those clutter excuses in order to fight your desire to hold on to something.

1. I might need it one day.

That may be true, but if you haven’t used it in a year, chances are you won’t need it anytime soon. You have to weigh the cost between the prime real estate space it takes up and the cost to replace it if you do need to purchase it again in the future.  Say for example you have a whole closet stuffed with stuff you “might” use one day and yet no where to put your seasonal coats and clothes (or anything else for that matter), you might want to reconsider your priorities.  That closet should be used for stuff you actually use.

2. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by getting rid of it.

Fair enough, but I would assume the person you don’t want to hurt is close to you or otherwise you wouldn’t be so concerned about their feelings. If that’s the case, then how much worse do you think this person would feel knowing the additional stress they’ve put you under?

If you’re keeping something to avoid hurting someone’s feelings, you’re essentially being a storage house for them. You are giving up storage space in your home to make them happy. I’m sure you can think of many different ways to effectively use your space. Do not be burdened by stuff you’re keeping for someone else.

3. I don’t want to seem ungrateful.

It’s all about heart. If your heart is in the right place, the giver will hopefully understand. You need to do what’s right for you and your family. You don’t always have to tell the giver that you and the item are parting ways.

Re-gifting is a popular choice for new items, as is donating items to the thrift stores. Take it to the thrift store in the next town if you’re really worried about it. And don’t forget places like Craiglist, eBay or Freecycle. Whatever you do, don’t hang on to something out of a sense of obligation — it just creates resentment.

4. It was so expensive.

Ah yes, the big-ticket item we just had to have — and there it sits collecting dust. It happens to all of us. You know you’ll never get back what you paid for it, but remember, that item is taking up space in your house that could be better used for something else, which makes THAT piece of real estate more expensive than the item you are hanging on to!

5. The item could be valuable.

It’s not worth anything if it’s just sitting in a box that you don’t have the room to store. If it isn’t something you love or use regularly and your space is limited, get rid of it and make some money on it now.

6. It brings back so many memories.

Oh, emotional attachment. This one is probably the biggest culprit that holds people back. Our memories are often so wrapped up in physical material possessions that it becomes unbearable to part with something.

I can understand that and I’m not opposed to keeping those things as long as you have the space available to store them. If you don’t, try taking a picture of the item (as I did above) and allow the picture to conjure up the memory for you instead.

….the above is an excerpt from my book Cluter Rehab: 101 Tips & Tricks to Become an Organization Junkie and Love It!

Which excuse traps you the most?

Filed under: Clutter Control, Purging


4 Responses to How to Combat Clutter Excuses

  1. 1
    Kristin @ The O.C.D. Life says

    Very good post… And, SO true. I have said every single one of these things to myself. And, I know many others that let those statements control their lives. And, those individuals have closets and houses full of junk that they NEVER use. I started telling myself that others could use my junk more than me, which has really helped when cleaning out closets, drawers, and cabinets. ; )

  2. 2
    Robin from Frugal Family Times says

    Thanks for this post, Laura. It so succinctly describes the struggles we all have clearing out the clutter. I am doing a clutter cutting project now (I’m pretending I’m moving soon – silly but it’s working). “Hurting a gifter” and “might need it one day” are my big stumbling blocks. Thanks for some sensible perspective on these challenges!

    • 2.1
      Becky says

      I pretend I’m moving too. I don’t want to deal with all this stuff again the next time I actually do move. And for extra motivation, I think of a friend I recently helped move who is clearly using all her excuses. I wonder if that’s how my stuff looked to my friends the last time I moved.


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