Thursday, November 6, 2008

30-Day Organizing Challenge: Day 10

Today's challege: Let it go.

I've written about letting go in this blog before, but never in this context. Today, guest blogger and organizing expert June Bell takes on the challenge of how to determine what needs to stay and what, though you love it, needs to go. For questions or advice on organizing issues, feel free to email June directly at junebell at aol dot com. To suggest more subjects for the challenge, comment below.

Should it stay or should it go?

In my last post, I nudged you toward organization by suggesting you start small. That was the encouragement some of you were waiting for.

But for others, the mere suggestion that you toss what you don’t need induced panic, denial and other fearsome emotions. If that describes you – and if it does, you’re definitely not alone – you may need to take a different approach to organizing.

Remember that “getting organized” is not equivalent to “getting rid of all my stuff.” Organizing is not merely purging – it’s about finding ways to make your environment a place where you can function efficiently,and be surrounded by what you love.

For many people, letting go of unneeded items is much easier if they know that this “clutter” will find a good home elsewhere. This knowledge was a huge help last week to Linda, one of my clients.

We spent a morning emptying her kitchen cabinets and examining the contents. On the shelves above the fridge, she found a dusty tortilla warmer, an unopened box of blue and white tile trivets, an electric can opener and an iced-tea maker. Some were wedding gifts older than her teenager. Others were purchased with the best intentions, used once and then relegated to culinary Siberia.

She agreed she did not want or need these things but wavered on saying goodbye to them. After all, she’d kept them so long. She might want them again someday. Some were wedding gifts. Some were from her deceased mother-in-law.

Then Linda realized that her cleaning woman, Lupe, had a large network of friends who would not only gratefully receive these items but would also appreciate and use them. She quickly filled two large plastic storage bins with her surplus and set them aside for Lupe.

Here are some suggestions on how to ease the sting of letting go of stuff you don’t want or need:

Find someone who needs it more than you do. Give that polka-dotted scarf to your niece for dress-up. Donate your old PC to a teen mentor program. Or list your stuff on craigslist or freecycle with a note that you’d like them to go a charity or school.
Don’t confuse an object with a person. You will always fondly remember your favorite aunt regardless of whether you keep the itchy mustard-color afghan she knitted for you years ago.
Consider an item’s karma. Hanging on to love letters from a two-faced, cheatin’ SOB creates a little cloud of funk in your home. Ditto for gifts you hate, clothing that’s too small or outdated and items you don’t like anymore. Let go and go on.

Next week: I’ll show you how to team up with a friend to make organizing easier and even, yes, fun.

[Ed Note: I'm curious: What do you have the hardest time letting go? Is there something people are always telling you to get rid of? Why do you keep it?]

1 comment:

Erin said...

I didn't realize that the influx of completely useless plastic things would exponentially increase once I had children. I'm not talking about toys, I'm talking about the party favor/prizes types of things that you can buy in bulk from Oriental Trading Company (I really DISLIKE Oriental Trading Company for what it's done to my house). The other thing that I've developed since having children is this bizarre "environmental guilt." Once I had my first kid, the recycling fanaticism really kicked in (I put the price tags from clothes in the paper recycle bin!). So how do I deal with all the plastic knick-knacks and at the same time address the guilt if I'm throwing all these things in the trash? I can't imagine someone else wanting them, and I'd really just like to toss it all...hope you get to my question! Thanks Heather!