Well, it’s time. The moment has finally come. Today, we are going to tackle… the Pit of Despair. Every house has its own Pit of Despair, but they all look alike: Rubbermaid tubs that you’re going to unpack “eventually,” boxes that were dumped and sifted through in haste, piles of stuff that’s been sort of tossed through the doorway because, “I don’t know where else to put it.” My Pit of Despair could go by many names, but we have elected to call it “the office.” It has a computer, a printer, an aquarium for my turtles, book shelves, and everything else under the sun.
When we moved to this house over a year ago, all the boxes of stuff we weren’t sure what to do with went to the office. Let’s be real… most of the boxes were just moved from the office of our previous apartment straight into the office of our new house.
“Why haven’t you gotten rid of that stuff by now?” you may ask. Well, the majority of it was from my childhood, and contained quite a few memories. My life was in those boxes. Every time I tried to sort through it, I ended up just keeping everything. However, this time, I tried to approach it with a different perspective, one that my husband helped me develop. I’ll break it down into four parts.
1. Just because you get rid of an object doesn’t mean you lose the memories associated with it.
This was my biggest area of weakness: I keep everything with sentimental value. I have a stuffed Pluto doll that has signatures all over it from when we went to Disney World when I was three years old. I had a 2-inch figurine of an angel my grandma mailed me for my seventh birthday. I had multiple sketchbooks full of sad little drawings from when middle-school me wanted to be an artist. I kept EVERYTHING.
I had to think, “Do I have to have these things to keep my happy memories?”
The answer, if I was honest with myself, was “No.” While the objects brought a smile to my face, it was only because of the memories that went with them. I am just as happy remembering those days without the items as I am with them.
2. What do I want to leave for my children to sort through when I die?
This is kind of a weird way to think of it, but I’ve been going to estate sales and I’ve been hearing people grumble about all the junk their parents clung to that they’re now selling. Granted, I’m not old enough yet to have accumulated whole attics and storage buildings full of junk, but it won’t take long at the rate I’m going. My kids won’t have the same affection for my things as I do, and I want them to not resent me for what I have.
Sure, my eight 4-inch binders stuffed full of baseball cards give me a fond memory of my card-collecting phase in elementary school, but will they matter to my kids? Probably not. I can probably donate those… Because I certainly can’t take them with me when I die.
3. What adds value to my life NOW?
This one was tricky. If I bought it at some point, then of course I wanted it, and of course it added value to my life! But the thing is, much of my stuff USED to add value to my life, but I’ve outgrown it. While high-school me was big into scrapbooking, adult me doesn’t have the time for it. Looking through my several boxes of scrapbooking stuff, I haven’t touched most of it for the better part of seven years. It no longer adds value… it only adds clutter.
The same goes for things that might add value to my life later. Sure, I might need it someday… but have I needed it yet? Most of the things I’m keeping for “just in case,” I can easily and cheaply buy again if I actually do need it. Which leads me into my next point….
4. Can I easily replace it for $20 or less?
This was a tip my husband had read in his research, and it helped eliminate a BOATLOAD of clutter. Many things I’ve held onto because “I might need it” — thumbtacks I’ve kept in a drawer since college, drawer organizers that I bought on sale, a dozen three-ring binders that I’ve needed for random things, several pairs of winter gloves that disappeared when I needed them and only appeared when I bought new ones… the list goes on. Each time I came across something that I wanted to keep because it was useful and I might need it, I asked myself if I could replace it easily for $20 or less. If the answer was yes… I let it go.
All told, I ended up making four piles: stuff to keep, stuff to throw away, stuff to donate,
and stuff to try to sell. My rule for separating “donate” from “sell” is that it goes in the donate pile unless I think I could get $5 or more for it. At first, I was posting my sale items on the Facebook Marketplace and my local online garage sale Facebook pages, but I may end up having a garage sale… we’ll see!
The pictures on this post are before my “Cut the Clutter” experiment. I’ll post the after pictures on Monday. Stay tuned!
What tips and tricks do you have that help you sort through your Pit of Despair?