If you’ve got clutter, I’m certain you have some ‘junk’ you can toss. And while it may not be junk literally, it may no longer be useful. Making the decision to get rid of your old things may actually be the hardest part of decluttering. If you’re like most people, you have trouble getting rid of something that you spent your hard-earned money on, which you once used or loved. Many items you find will have more than just a monetary value –they will stir up memories and have sentimental value. These are real and valid feelings that make it challenging to part with our stuff.
Remember, you have options when it comes to getting rid of clutter, so you don’t have to feel guilty about putting everything in the trash. Mentally prepare yourself for decluttering and keep the following concepts in mind when you are struggling to part with something you haven’t used in a while.
The 80/20 Rule: When it comes to clothing, we generally only wear 20% of the clothes we own 80% of the time. This rule tends to hold true for other things as well, such as video games, computer parts, books, DVDs, toys and more. Your mission is to get rid of the things you don’t use 80% of the time.
Getting Over Sunk Costs. In the world of economics, costs that have already been incurred and cannot be recovered are referred to as sunk costs. As you go through the items in your house, most things should be considered sunk costs (except for rare situations where an item may have increased in value). Since you cannot get the money back that you spent on that item, you should only think about the value that thing can add to your life in the future. Understanding this concept of sunk costs can help you make more rational decisions about what to keep and what you should toss.
Here are more declutter tips to help you decide what to keep and what to throw away:
See if it works. If whatever treasure you found stashed away in your house doesn’t work, get rid of it. If you want to fix it, then fix it, but don’t let it sit in your house for another month collecting dust.
Think of the last time you used it. If you haven’t used something you come across in the last 6 months, you should probably get rid of it. If you pulled the item out and said, “I’ve been wondering where this was!” you should probably get rid of it. And if you didn’t even know you still had the item in question, you should definitely get rid of it –you didn’t miss it enough to warrant keeping it.
There’s a neat trick you can use with clothing, books and DVDs (pictured below). Over the course of the year, when you use or wear an item put it back facing the opposite direction of the others. This allows you to see what you’ve used and what you haven’t. If you haven’t used or worn something in a year, get rid of it.
Ask yourself if you love it. This may seem obvious, but sometimes we keep things we aren’t completely crazy about. Yes, sometimes we spend money on things we don’t love, and sometimes we don’t return them. But if you don’t love it, and you haven’t used it in more than 6 months, add it to the “Get Rid of It” bin.
Sleep on it. After you’ve made the decision to get rid of some of the clutter in your home, sleep on it. If there’s something you can’t live without, you’ll know in the morning. You can pull it out of the junk bin and put it away.