One of the biggest pieces of defeating self-talk when you’re decluttering is “I might need that someday!” It can be hard to argue with, since “might” and “someday” are nebulous terms.
Of course the simplest way to deal with nebulous arguments is to make them concrete, and then gather data to show they’re false. That’s what we’re going to be looking at today.
Rather than saying “I might need that someday”, we want to be able to confidently make a statement of the form “I haven’t needed that in a year.” You can make that timeframe 90 days, 30 days, 6 months, or whatever – but I like to keep it simple, and I like “one year” as a timeframe.
The benefits of a one year period are:
- It’s a mentally satisfying number. We’re used to measuring things in years – more so than days, weeks, or months. “90 days” is a more abstract concept for most people than “1 year”.
- All holidays are accounted for. If you only use something at Christmas, or Easter, or whatever, waiting a full year will ensure that you’ve had the opportunity to go through that holiday at least once. This is useful for Christmas decorations, certain cookware, cookbooks, etc.
- All seasons are accounted for. This is useful for wardrobe decluttering. If you’ve gone an entire year without wearing it, that means that you’ve been through winter, spring, summer, and fall.
- A year gives magnitude. If you’re “going to learn to play that piano” that’s been sitting in your living room, it’s easy to put it off for a few weeks. Or to dismiss it for a season. But “you said you were going to learn to play it, and you haven’t even touched it in a year” can be a jarring statement.
Once you’ve decided what you’re going to purge, the only thing that’s left is to come up with some sort of method to differentiate “used” things from “unused” things, and then checking them after a year (mark it on your calendar!).
- For that piano, a piece of masking tape with a date on it – holding the cover over the keys – will do. If the tape is still there after a year, you haven’t played it.
- For cookbooks, put a Post-It note on every recipe you use during a year. Any cookbooks without notes after a year haven’t been used.
- For clothes, turn all of your hangers backwards. When you re-hang a worn outfit, put them back correctly. Any backwards hangers after a year haven’t been worn.
- For toys, start with everything in a toybox out in the garage. Bring them in as they’re played with. Yup, you guessed it – anything still in the toybox after a year can go!
Once you know what is and isn’t being used, you can dispose of the “extras” with a lot more confidence!
Of course the above examples are far from a complete list. Do you have any favorite methods for tracking what’s being used and what’s not? Head over to the Facebook group and share your tips!