Blog: Simplify Your Life
Reasons, Or Excuses?
At this point, you have probably run across some belongings that don't exactly serve a practical purpose in your life. Of course, some items simply cannot be judged according to their function alone. Certain objects, such as artwork or collectibles, are kept because they are aesthetically pleasing. Others are treasured for their sentimental value. What do to?
Quit With The Excuses Already!
It's fine to keep things that you don't use everyday -- I don't believe in the "you haven't touched it in a year, it's out of here" rule. But I don't want you convincing yourself to keep an item that gives you no real benefit and is just taking up space! After you've been doing it for a long time, holding onto clutter becomes a habit -- and habits (especially bad ones) are hard to break! It's easy to continue justifying your failure to clean out the excess and unused with a variety of different excuses. "It was expensive." "It was a gift." "I've had it since I was a child." "I don't just want to throw it away." "I might fit into a size 6 again." "But what if it comes back in style?" Yeah -- right. I'm here to respond to each of these rationalizations with a bit of cold, hard reason -- hopefully allowing you to see that you can let at least a few things go and you'll be none the worse off for it!
- is it beautiful, useful, or loved? (artist William Morrison developed the most effective way to determine if an item truly serves a purpose -- ask yourself if the object is "beautiful, useful, or loved" -- I teach this phrase to my clients like a mantra, repeated over and over and over (actually, they get a bit sick of it after awhile!) -- all of your most treasured belongings seem to fit into one of these three categories -- and if an object isn't beautiful, useful, or loved, then why are you keeping it?)
- but it was expensive! (you may say that you are keeping an item because you spent a lot of money on it, and you can't stand to see it go to waste -- I hate to burst your bubble, but if you aren't using it now, isn't it still going to waste? -- keeping something simply because it was costly is not a good enough reason -- these objects are nothing but high-price reminders of purchasing mistakes you made in the past -- better to let it go and move on, and perhaps you can sell it to recoup some of the expense)
- I might be able to wear it again (does keeping a garment that is too small encourage you to lose weight or fill you with shame because you still haven't reached your goal? -- we already heap enough guilt onto our heads every day without creating additional pressures -- isn't it healthier to focus on feeling better about your appearance now? -- why not take your old wardrobe to a consignment shop, then spend your profits on clothes that fit and make you feel attractive just as you are?)
- get off the guilt trip (another rationalization that I hear fairly regularly is, "Aunt Mildred gave that to me, she would be so disappointed/hurt/angry if I got rid of it." -- I can only respond by asking, "Who runs your life? You or your Aunt Mildred?" -- the idea of keeping something that you have no use for, just so you can drag it out when your relatives visit, seems a bit dishonest -- and I firmly believe that once you receive a gift, that item is yours to do with as you see fit, even if you choose to discard it -- we place too much importance on "stuff" as it is, without creating an unnecessary sense of obligation)
- I've had it a long time (not to be rude, but so what? if it has no sentimental or historical value, I'm not convinced that longevity is the best reason to hang onto something you don't really care for anymore or use -- your lifestyle and interests change over the years, and it's entirely natural for some of your belongings are going to become obsolete -- they've had a good life, but now it's time to let them go and focus your energies on your current interests)
- I don't just want to throw it away (clutter is not an either/or proposition -- you have many other options besides just throwing an unwanted item away -- find a local charity that will accept a donation, sell the thing on Craigslist or at a yard sale, give it to a friend or family member who could put that item to use -- if it's still in functional order, you can always find someone who would love to have it and give it a second lease on life)
If you are still having a hard time letting go of your clutter, you might try an alternative approach. Judith Kolberg, former head of the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization, suggests that you treat your belongings as "friends, acquaintances, and strangers." Friends are those items that you like having around -- ones that really mean something to you. Acquaintances are objects that come into your life, stay for a short time, are enjoyed, and then leave again. And strangers are easily discarded -- you have no strong feelings of devotion toward these items. This method works particularly well for people who have powerful emotional attachments to their belongings.
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posted on: 10/18/2011 11:30:00 AM by Ramona Creel
category: General Organizing Tips
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Simplify Your Life
by Ramona Creel
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I have been a Professional Organizer for more than 10 years, I am a NAPO Golden Circle member, and I was the original founder of OnlineOrganizing. I have worked one-on-one with scores of clients and have trained dozens of newbie organizers as they got started in the industry. I provide both hands-on and virtual coaching to help clients improve their organizing skills and simplify their lives. I invite you to visit my website at http://www.RamonaCreel.com, and I challenge you to find one new idea that you can put into practice in your life, to help you become better organized, starting TODAY! I am passionate about coaching folks toward a more balanced, productive, and enjoyable life -- and I firmly believe that if I can do it, so can you!
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