October 9, 2011

{OrganizedHome} Day 9: Permission to Let Go, and to Keep

[This is day 9 in 31 day series called 31 days to an Organized Home. If your new here, welcome. Please leave a comment to say "hi!"]

Purge Urge
via Jack Brodus, flickr cc



In yesterday's post I shared this famous quote by William Morris:
"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful"
But most of us have things in our homes that we don't use or love.  Things we can't let go of.  Here are a few of the things that you and I may be needlessly hanging on to:

The things we were given as gifts.  The people who give you gifts do so because they love you and want to bless you.  If the gift is no longer a blessing, part with it.  A gift giver with any tact will never ask about it.  If they do, tell them honestly that you no longer needed it and passed it along to somebody who did. That doesn't sound to painful, does it?

The things that we paid too much money for to part with. This happens to me with shoes.  I spend sixty bucks on a fabulous pair of shoes only to discover that they hurt my feet. I don't wear them, but I don't want to part with them because I haven't gotten my sixty dollars worth out of them. But truth is, I never will.  Part with items that are just taking up space. Keeping those shoes won't bring back my sixty bucks.

The things we think we ought to have.  Don't eat toast? Go ahead and ditch the toaster. I know everybody has a toaster, but you don't need one.

The things we fear we may need some day.  I've donated duplicates of things before only to have the first one break shortly thereafter. I survived. I bought a new one. Don't waste time digging through things you may possibly need someday while looking for the things you do need today.

The things we are saving for our kids.  Do save somethings. Save favorite toys and samplings of their artwork.  Save mementos from your own childhood.  Save lots of pictures. Just don't save everything.  Don't let the special things lose their meaning surrounded by the ordinary.  Don't pass your junk on to your kids.

Give yourself permission to let go of the things that aren't helping you to build an extraordinary life. You and I aren't here on this earth to amass a home full of meaningless junk and earthly treasures.

And while you're at it, give yourself permission to keep the things that matter to you. Keep the things you use to live and serve, love and create.  Keep the things that inspire and delight.  Keep the things that remind you of past seasons of your life or that fill you with excitement for the future. Keep these things without reservation or guilt.  


And if you need a little extra incentive to let go of the clutter, read this post here by a fellow 31 dayer.

45 comments:

  1. Well said. I am enjoying your posts.

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  2. Did this yesterday and today. We went through our storage and donated about 5 bags of clothes to Salvation Army and threw out 10 bags of trash and have another truck load of trash. Really motivated now.

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  3. Love this post, and the one you linked to. I'm writing about simplifying too for 31 Days so I love to see what others are doing too.

    -Jennifer

    www.theclosettherapist.blogspot.com

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  4. I need to read posts/articles like this EVERY single day! Thanks for adding to my motivation to purge and simplify.

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  5. Wow! The linked blog really hit me. I've gotten much better at letting excess go lately. I've also been much better at not bring excess in to begin with. I know it's not going with me, so there's no use in amassing quantity. Thanks for the reminder. I'm ready to go home and purge some more.

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  6. Really? The toaster? People don't eat eggs and toast in the morning? Ever?

    Ps. "Give yourself permission to let go of the things that aren't helping you to build an extraordinary life. You and I aren't here on this earth to amass a home full of meaningless junk and earthly treasures"

    AMEN1

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  7. I started selling all my shoes on ebay once I discovered I can't wear high heels anymore and have come up with enough money to get all new lighting fixtures, new ss dishwasher and stove.

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  8. How do you get rid of stuff you don't need or want when your Mother-In-Law lives with you and she simply ADORES everything you think is useless and ugly? ...

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  9. Thank you for this - I'm definitely going to follow your blog.

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  10. i live in an extremely small apartment in Korea & moving in with my boyfriend, yikes! this challenge is super helpful! thanks! :)

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  11. I enjoy everything organizing, thanks for committing to sharing your ideas with us.

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  12. I have enjoyed your site! Your wise words have encouraged me to simplify my surroundings so that I can begin to enjoy the things that really matter!

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  13. Soo true! I need to let go of so many things... it's hard to let go.

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  14. I never followed a blog but this one has definately changed my mind...

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  15. You are such a life saver. I have been very stressed and do easily get mad on even the littlest thing because whenever I see my cluttered home and have been wanting for the longest time to clean it, I just find myself still storing clutter. Your method has helped me little by little.

    Indeed, to be contented doesn't mean on not having good things but being organized and clutter-free on what is essential alone.

    I love your posts! Thanks!

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  16. This is totally how i feel, but can never get my butt in gear. Thanks for the motivation! Gave you a shout out in my brand new blog...You're the first "real" entry, so thanks!
    http://honeybeeboutiques.webs.com/apps/blog/

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  17. Love this post! Thank you for giving inspiration and sharing your thoughts around this matter. For me it is the "mind" that is a challenge, not to physically declutter, but what I think about the things I save. So this can help me let go of some stuff. Thanks again :)

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  18. This post is excellent.
    I had to read it four times to keep myself motivated to actually get rid of the useless clutter around my house. Thank you for explaining this so well and giving me a reason to let go of those things.

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

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  19. I am new to this blog but wanted some ideas to help clean my parents house. This post will help so much because My mother has so much trouble letting things go. Now she has piles of boxes of STUFF throughout the house. It's embarrassing and hazardes. I appreciate any tips with organization and how to talk to her about the stuff she wont let go.

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    1. do you ever watch "Hoarders", Emily? Your Mum isn't going to do anything about it unless it is an emergency and even then she'll fight. All you can do is talk to her about the worry you feel that something will happen and she will be injured by all the stuff. At least try to get her to put all the important papers and memories in one place so they can be found.
      As for organization I made up my own way. I got a bunch of big plastic bins and marked them for different items. I took a small area of the room and sorted everything into the bins. Then I got a bunch of mid-size boxes - about twice as many as the big bins - and then sorted again so like was with like. Then came the final sort. Since I'm dealing with craft supplies and holiday decorations I only dealt with one type at a time. I bought two garden and garbage bag holders and put one big, clear garden bag on one and a big garbage bag on the other. Clear was donate and black was garbage and the small boxes were for keep. I just started chucking into the appropriate area. It takes a while doing it one small area at a time but you feel you've accomplished something and now you have a clean area. Keep moving around the same room, one area at a time, and get one room done. If I hurried I stopped working. If I took my time I kept going.

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    2. Thank you jllz for your detailed explanation! My mother and I both have a little of this situation. I'm going through each room right now. I've been finding friends in need to donate small clothes, etc. to. In my career, we receive 20 boxes biweekly that end up stacked in the entryway. Now we've organized them on shelves in the garage...and purge the unneeded monthly. I've been desperately needing an office space, so I'm turning part of my bedroom into a beautiful work space (with a Paris theme since that's my incentive trip for next year). I've been working on the floor next to the fireplace. And all the mail, work papers, school papers, bags from that day's work, etc...all get piled up around the fireplace. Now, I'll have a workplace with bins to keep everything organized. I also bought a smaller filing cabinet to go with the desk. With this one being inside rather than in the garage, I'll be able to use it for work. I still have a long road to go to get my house feeling the way we need it, but I'm working on it. Thank you for your tips!

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  20. Hi Kelly, I just found your blog through Pinterest and am reading through all 31 days of posts. I really loved this post. I know I need to go through my closets and drawers and get rid of stuff. This really helped me to think about my stuff differently, and see how I can let things go! Thanks for sharing!

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  21. In addition to the "I paid too much money for this" concept: I saw a good episode of "What Not To Wear" where Clinton said that holding onto things we've spent too much money on is a form of guilt. We are punishing ourselves for "wasting" the money each time we look at the thing. By letting go of the item we let go of the punishment.

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  22. I had an apartment full of craft supplies and Christmas decorations. It took me two years of sorting and donating, sorting and donating.....to bring myself down to no more than two crafts. I look back and realize how much money I spent on this stuff I was never going to used but by giving it all away I know someone found treasures at the charity store. I can't believe how many duplicates I had. I'm still dehoarding.
    It does get a lot easier and as time goes on you recognize what you are doing and come to terms with your personal addiction. Just this week I realized I hoard food in the freezer. My mother hoarded food but she went thru the Depression and hardtimes. I do not have that excuse. The freezer is being cleaned out. The biggest benefit of this is the feeling of freedom, space, air, and positive energy when you walk into a cleaned room and know you've done a good job.
    I thank "Cleansweep", which is no longer on tv, for opening my eyes to what I was willfully ignoring. If I can do it anyone can.

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    1. My gosh, love your posts! I too loved Cleansweep and my mother and I tried that on her house. But after bringing everything out to the back lawn, we didn't get back to it in time...and then it snowed. :( Last Wednesday we were invited to join a friend at her church to make Christmas stockings for the troops. I finally let go of a HUGE TV Box full of fleece I was saving to make scarves with. My job is all consuming and I don't have time to paint or craft anymore. But I've been holding onto EVERYTHING because I love to craft. I donated the fleece to the church. Next I'm donating all the paints. I'm realizing that when I have a few days to do a craft, I can get the specific items needed for that craft instead of hanging onto everything "just in case". And it's clearing half of our garage and master closet by donating!

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  23. I hate clutter and I dont have much. But the clutter I do have I need a little extra motivation to get rid of it. The one I am having the hardest time with are the newspaper/magazines that my mom saved for me. They have articles of big events that happened in the World/US/Local Town growing up. They have nothing to do with me and I am having a hard time getting rid of it. She put a lot of hardwork and she was thinking of me when she saved it. She wanted me to be able to look back at it and remember these things and share them with my kids...like 9/11. The sentiment is nice, but how often will I actually pull out these articles to share with my kids. Its a pretty good sized plastic tote that is impossibly heavy. Maybe I will go through and just pull out the stuff from the events that I think are important. Thoughts?

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    1. Yes, if I may give a suggestion: go through and pull out the most important events. If you get a scrapbook album, limit yourself to keeping only enough to fill the album.

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    2. I understand the newspaper article clutter. My parents have a lot of articles, not all scrapbooked, and while I want to preserve the information, the newspaper disintegrates easily. My recommendation is to sort through and find what is important to you, then scan the article into your computer. You can then keep a file on your desktop, or you can have an album printed (from a photo place like Picaboo, Shutterfly, Walgreens, etc) or have them printed as photos or copies to put in a scrapbook. When finished, enjoy tossing the box. Good luck!

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  24. I just found you on Pinterest. I really needed this--just trying to get past the reasons I think I need to keep it. This just makes so much logical sense, I can do it!

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  25. Hi,

    I too discovered you on pinterest. I have a nice idea about your children's artwork. Let the children choose their most beautiful artworks, scan them in (I don't really know how to say this, I hope you understand it), make a photoalbum from it with an online program and give the original artworks to aunts, grandparents, friends...

    AlineCarolle

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  26. I, too, found you on Pinterest. This is a great post about letting go. Not being able to let go is my number 1 nemesis for having an organized house. Sometimes the roots run deep into our psyche for not being able to let go of things. Although I am technically an "empty nester", my nest is still loaded to the rafters with bits of my childrens' lives. When I tried to get my married daughter to clean out her 'stuff', she was genuinely shocked that I didn't want her stuff hanging out in 'her room' any more. Anyway...you don't need to know my 'can't get of it' woes. I just wanted to thank for your 31 Day articles. They are excellent.

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  27. Hello,
    I found you on pinterest, as well, and I am so inspired by your 31 Day "Challenge". I have been in clean-out mode for a while now, but I feel like I am chasing my tail. Your method makes sense and this post has definitely hit a nerve! I am energized to go home and clear some clutter! Thank you for sharing your tips and your insight. You are changing lives.

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  28. As inspiration for those finding it hard to let go... I studied abroad for 4 months a couple years ago and only had taken what would fit in 2 suitcases. When I arrived, I made or bought just what was needed, and when I left, I gave away many things to friends I had made in order to make space for gifts for loved ones back home.

    After living with only the essentials and the few things I found inspiring and beautiful, I was shocked when I got back home and saw how much stuff I really had! So downsizing can really be done and you can survive and enjoy it!

    A tip that I follow now when I need to organize and decide what to part with--act decisively and get that box to the donation place soon! You haven't worn that shirt in 3 years? IN THE BOX! And then make sure you don't go through the box again or leave it lying around too long, because the shirt will probably end up back in your closet...

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  29. This was an interesting article, i have read most up till this one although over here in England or atleast in my house we don't have coat cupboards or pantrys which makes those bits easier lol. But clutter i do have in abundance even though i have worked hard to clear it for what seems like ages. I read the linked article too. Thankfully for me my parents have been clearing their clutter themselves and for that i will be very glad when that dreaded day comes. Some habits we get from our parents. My mum keeps postcards and cards and has done for years, as do i sadly. Being a crafter only makes that worse because you see cards for their beauty or not in some cases. I hope to continue, successfully. Thanks for sharing :)

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  30. Well put. We have lot's of stuff i our house that my husband has a hard time getting rid of - stuff that was "parked" in our house after his mother died. Some of it belongs to his sister, who hasn't collected what is hers (still, after four years!).

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  31. You are amazing we bought a house couple of weeks back and I was wondering where should I start from and then I found your blog it's superb it's like finding a torch in dark Forrest thanks for simple but effective tips :)

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  32. Im a mom of 7 and I simply can not keep every or even TOO many of their art projects, the ones I can not keep I will take a picture of that child holding it and it will be remembered forever...maybe :)

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  33. I know I'm late to the party on these posts, but I've just started following along and this post in particular really made an impact on me.

    I'm a habitual hoarder. I've always had a lot of trouble letting go. So many things are cluttering my home because 'I might use them one day' or 'I don't want to throw it out because I paid so much for it'--and yes I have a pair of shoes I don't want to part with for this reason even though they hurt my feet! (And a gorgeous pair of expensive jeans that I wore once and discovered they were a bit tight and held onto in case I lost weight, but never did, in fact after kids I only gained more. I'll probably never fit them.) or 'It was a gift, I would feel guilty getting rid of it'--including a coffee maker I got as a wedding present nearly ten years ago (I don't drink coffee and my husband doesn't drink coffee often enough for us to have ever used it. It's still in its box and has moved with us twice so far.)

    When I did my kitchen for day six of your series I finally gave myself permission to get rid of all the 'I might use that one day' stuff and I felt such relief at ridding my kitchen of the clutter. I'm going to print this post and use it to give myself permission to get rid of other 'things' as I declutter the rest of the house.

    Thank you so much for this post (and this series).

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  34. I just love your article. A friend off mine told me to take a photo if you can't part from something that is very spesial to you. It works!! Just try it . It's much easier then to toss it away or give it away.
    Thanks for brillant article.

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  35. I found your blog on pinterest today and love it....can wait to keep reading through days

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  36. I love this post. It follows with my philosophy exactly. I started decluttering my things two years ago and then moved to a different country which forced me to get my things down to the basics! I love living life with just the essentials.

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  37. Thank you.... another pinner here. I just made way in my craft area and hope to work in my bonus room tomorrow after reading this inspiring post. I know I still won't get rid of all I should, but you've helped get me started. I think I'll be able to post with most of my old toys that the children don't seem interested in after this. Thank you!

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  38. Thanks for the link! On a personal note, I must say that if you are not going to declutter for yourself, you should definitely do it for those loved ones who will be mourning you when you are gone.

    My grandparents passed away only 2 weeks apart from each other a few years ago. They were definitely hoarders. All the family wanted was time to mourn & grieve. Unfortunately, we weren't allowed that luxury as they lived out of state & we had to clean out the house immediately. Going through decades of useless items, trying to sort out what was worth keeping and what was not, was not only exhausting, but heart-wrenching. Definitely not something I want my loved ones to go through when I leave this earth.

    Great ideas on your blog! I started a mini notebook with ideas for organizing room-by-room and hope to get started soon!

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