I’ll bet you have something sentimental in your attic or basement you just can’t seem to part with. Perhaps it was handed down through a generation or two, and therefore almost impossible to do anything with except to keep holding on to it.
I recently found a box in the attic with all my Navy plaques. I pried off the brass engravings and disposed of the plaques themselves. I retired almost 14 years ago and accumulated those plaques over a 20-year career, so some of them had lived in a box for nearly 34 years.
It was time.
And yet, it was so hard to let go.
We tend to attribute greater value to things than they’re really worth simply because we own them.
Imagine the things in your attic that you can’t let go of. Now imagine those same things at someone else’s garage sale – would you even be interested or would you think they weren’t even worth a dollar or two?
It’s the “endowment effect.”
Because we own something, we assume it is valuable.
This is one of the main reasons salespeople want you to hold, sample, try on, and test drive an item. And it’s the exact reason if feels like a loss when we have to give it back – we “owned” it, if only for awhile.
Over the years I’ve come to treasure the times when I am in a “cleaning out” mood, whether it’s a junk drawer, a closet, a filing cabinet, or an entire attic.
One of the most productive things you can do for yourself is to take charge of the clutter, the ditritus, the things you save for “someday” or “just in case.”
Here are a few things I do to get started:
1. For whatever I’m sorting, pruning, or cleaning out (drawer, closet, file, room etc.), I take everything out of it first and clean the area.
Then I only put back what I absolutely love or need.
2. I take what’s left over and throw away anything that really counts as trash.
Then I load the good items into my car and take to my favorite charity as soon as possible while I still have the motivation and momentum to do so. If I’m cleaning out files, I trash or shred them that day (this feels so good!)
3. If I haven’t used something for over 5 years, it’s likely I never will and it gets tossed (especially if it is something I could buy again if I truly need it.)
4. I chunk down bigger projects into manageable timeframes or numbers.
For example, if I’m cleaning out files, I’ll set a big stack on my desk and just pick out 10 items to throw away at a time. If I set a timer to go off at regular intervals, like once an hour, I can easily go through hundreds of pieces of paper in a day.
5. My goal is that everything has a designated and intentional place so nothing “floats” around my home or office.
6. Lastly, especially in my office, if it is something that doesn’t bring me joy, inspiration, or creativity – if it’s something that weighs me down – it doesn’t get to live in my office.
You can take charge of the “stuff” that overwhelms you. Start where you are and see it as an opportunity to move forward with confidence. You got this 😉