I would never describe myself as a “pack rat”, but when I took on a roommate, I had to smush everything that filled two bedrooms into one. At that point I realized I had way too much stuff. I could barely walk around in my room because it was so full of stuff, much of which I hardly used anymore.
I realized that I had held on to a lot of stuff far too long. Based on what I had to get rid of, here are some suggestions of what you might want to get rid of as well.
1. Old media
Many people have collections of types of media including vinyl records, VHS tapes, CDs, DVDs, cassette tapes, and so forth.
I went ahead and ripped most of my CDs to my computer and sold or donated them. In the process, I re-discovered my music collection, because I was only listening to music on my phone and computer, never on CDs. Check out this article on ripping tapes to your computer.
I know there are folks who love their physical media. If you’re one of them, by all means, keep your old CD’s and LP’s if they bring you joy. Consider some of the other items on this list.
2. Unused hobby gear
Evaluate your old hobbies to see which ones you’ll really take up again. For me, it was electronic music equipment. I had so much of it, yet rarely used it anymore. I sold it on ebay and made thousands of dollars!
3. Unused sports / camping equipment
How likely is it that you’ll use those snow shoes now that you’re living in Miami? How often do you use that kayak, or skis or Rollerblades? Would it be easier or even more economical to rent these in the future? For me, it was the punching bag that I never used, especially after I joined a gym.
4. Toys / items that your kids have outgrown
This means children’s clothes, toys, books, old bikes, etc. Time to clear out the garage and give those things to a family that can use them. You’ll be so glad you did!
5. Old books
I love books, but they take up a lot of space and are really heavy if you have to move. I even had some books from college. I donated many of them to a library and put some on Craigslist for free. You might be able to sell some, but that does take a lot of your time.
6. Old clothing / shoes / towels / blankets / sheets
When I did my de-cluttering, I found two of the exact same shirt! I had so many clothes that I didn’t know what I had and bought the same shirt twice. I also had a lot of clothing that I hadn’t worn in years. Donate items that you no longer wear or no longer fit. Use old towels as rags when you wash your car or your dog.
7. Paper documents
I was storing boxes and boxes of old pay stubs, bank statements, and receipts. In many cases, the IRS only recommends saving records from the last three years. It turns out that most of my recent records were online, so I was able to shred most of my paper records. You could scan it, but that takes a ton of time unless you have an automatic feeder.
8. Old Tech / Electronic Equipment
In general, electronic items depreciate extremely quickly. Rarely does it pay to hang on to old tech, with the possible exception of music equipment. The longer you hang on to these items, the more worthless they become.
So sell them while they still have some value. Apple products tent to hold their value better than most other consumer electronics. I sold a really old iPad and MacBook Pro on ebay for over $100 each. Not a lot, but better than nothing.
Do you have a collection of anything taking up a lot of space? Your shot glass collection was great in college, but are you really going to display them now? Consider selling/donating stuff questionable collections and artwork that you don’t want anymore.
10. Anything you wouldn’t buy at a garage sale
When going through your stuff, ask yourself, “If I didn’t have this item, but I found it at a garage sale, would I buy it?” If the answer is “no”, get rid of it.
Overall, my advice when deciding what to get rid of is to think big. Leave no item exempt from consideration. There are so many things that glossed over when I made my first pass at de-cluttering because I thought “I might use that someday”. Only later did I realize that was probably a fantasy.
Get some help
If you want to really de-clutter effecitvely, get the help and advice of a trusted friend of family member during your de-cluttering session. When I did this they saw things that I had not even thought about getting rid of and challenged me on them. Often, a friend or family member can give you a more objective perspective on whether items are really worth keeping or if you’re just being sentimental about them.
A trick to get motivated if you’re unsure
Something I do to help me feel good about getting rid of stuff is to gather the items under consideration and move them into a “staging area”. For example, move the stuff out of your bedroom and into the garage. If you don’t have a garage, move it into your living room (temporarily).
Next, re-arrange your room given all of the new space you have. For me, I usually like the new less-cluttered room so much better that I can’t wait to get rid of the stuff that I’ve moved out!!
If you’re still unsure, let the items sit for a week and see if you miss them. Hopefully after that, you can feel good about getting rid of them.
Parting with sentimental items
It can be hard to part with sentimental items. What do you do if you have boxes of Christmas and birthday cards, your kids’ drawings, old letters, etc?
In my case, I had kind of a silly situation. I had some moving boxes which an ex-girlfriend had written really sweet, silly things about me on. I treasured those boxes and saved them for years! I loved what she wrote, but it was silly to keep the empty boxes. My solution was to take digital photos of them. I was then able to get rid of them.
So, if possible, photograph or scan sentimental items that you want to remember. This might be enough to let you part with the items. A digital photo or scan will never fade!
After all of my selling, donating, and de-cluttering, I am thrilled! I work from home, so my workspace is now tidy. I can find things I need. I feel like a weight has been lifted. I’m happier!
I hope this article has given you the motivation and means to de-clutter your life!! Please tell me about your experiences and tips for de-cluttering!