De-cluttering is a long and ongoing process. There always seems to be more, no matter how many times you clean out that ‘hidden item’ cupboard.
In our case, there are two cupboards in which we have been storing random cups, bowls, plates, serving dishes and ornaments. These items are hidden out of sight so most of the time we just ignore their presence.
The thing about these cupboards is that most of the items in them are never used. Some of the items were gifts, some are leftover remnants of past sets of crockery or random items we have picked up over the years on various trips. Many of the items were chipped or a single item left from a once highly used set.
So why were we keeping this stuff you may ask? Just writing about it makes me question the craziness of our actions. The thing is, for some reason it’s really hard to let go of once sentimental items or things we are keeping just in case. I mean, the logic is flawless. We’ll hold onto this chipped side plate or random glass just in case we have 10 unexpected visitors and run out of side plates and glasses.
From the outside looking in, the whole concept seems simple. And yet, there I was on a recent rainy weekend, surrounded by a pile of random crockery, struggling to let it go out of my life. The reality is, handling items that have been part of your life can bring back memories and the emotions that arise can make it hard to let go.
Luckily, we were mostly able to work through this and the majority of items went either in the bin (chipped and cracked), were repurposed or donated. It wasn’t easy and there’s no one way to go about this kind of decluttering but here are some of the methods I used to get through the reluctance to let go:
- Logic. Talk through the purpose of the item, its condition, how it’s adding value, what you would do if you found you suddenly needed the item. The Minimalists have a really good tool for this called twenty dollars, twenty minutes. If you can replace the item in twenty minutes for twenty dollars then you can easily afford to let it go. According to them, they have had to spend twenty minutes and twenty dollars to replace or purchase just in case items only a few times in the years since they came up with this tool. If teetering on the edge, also decide whether you are prepared to commit to the item, the cleaning, maintenance, storage space and ultimately replacement. If not, move it on.
- With items that are in good condition and have some sentimental value, give yourself permission to move on from the item. If the item is no longer adding value to you but is still in good condition, think about how it could add value to someone else through gifting or donation. The reality is, it’s been in a cupboard or box, its not contributing to your life or anyone else’s where it is. Take a photo of the item if it helps. Remember that the memories are not in the item, but are with you. Remind yourself that if this item was so important to you, it wouldn’t have been living in a box or cupboard for years.
- Ultimately what you keep is up to you. Minimalism is different for everyone. If you really can’t bear to let something go, even if you don’t need it or it isn’t adding value, just put it back, give it a timeline and come back to it in a few weeks or months. Sometimes, this process does result in an item getting a new life, either by being repurposed or used again in its original capacity. If you do decide to let it stay in the box or cupboard just recognise your deliberate decision to store the item for what it is.
- Celebrate the extra space created. For me the best bit about decluttering is emptying a cupboard or piece of furniture so that it is no longer needed. Then we get to decide whether the area can be used for something better than it being used for now. Sometimes this results in us moving on a piece of furniture, or re-purposing it for something else, somewhere else. I love the evolution of this.
Slowly, in our house we are evolving into minimalists. Slowly, we are creating an environment where everything has a clear and obvious purpose. Some value adding items in our house have been moved to more and more user friendly spots as we have worked through the process of creating space by removing the non value adding.