How We Let Go of Things
How We Let Go of Things
Most often the challenge in letting go of our possessions is because of our emotional ties and memories we hold with each item we have in our collection. Just like our life tends to have a soundtrack so do our closets, garages, and draws. Every item has its story, a history.
So the very first step is to be gentle with yourself as you make your deletions. I’ve found it’s very often a journey down memory lane. So, it’s important to take your time through the experience.
The first purge tends to be daunting and fully overwhelming if you try to take on too much at one time. It’s better to eat slowly and take small bites.
I usually recommend starting in your garage or storage unit first. Logic, well these are not in your daily rotation so they’ve already been downgraded in your personal hierarchy of importance. If your time is limited take a section at a time each week. Once your garage is sorted it will become your transition area.
The key in the process is sorting, otherwise one tends to get sidetracked. There are a few levels in this process but the first level is broken down in the following categories:
- Keep – Important how did that get out here
- Liquidate – Sell, Donate, Give Away, Trash
- Undecided – which probably means keep for now
Start with three large containers, label them so you don’t get confused and donate something you wanted to keep. You’ll need other boxes but keep three large containers as your primary sorting area.
Once you have your batch sorted into these categories then we need to move the keep important items into the house if that is applicable. If not buy special boxes, color coding can be very useful here and put everything that is a keep in those boxes and set them in a different corner of the garage.
Then Liquidate will be sorted down to three or four categories as follows:
- Yard Sale
- Trash (recycle)
Often I try to find the item a new home via my circle of friends. Especially, if I’m fond of it. Of course, that can get tricky because sometimes they don’t value things as you do. If that is the case sometimes to keep friendships intact it’s better not to be so generous.
If you have things that might be of value check Ebay’s completed listings first to see if your item has sold for an amount that would make it worth your wild to sell online. If the item is technology you should also check Amazon’s Trade-In program. As a special note here, before disposing of any technology be sure and clean your personal information off the item. I tend to remove hard drives and have them shredded just to be safe.
If there is no value on eBay, then pick between yard sale and donation. If you have no time for a yard sale then it’s a donation box. If you do have a yard sale, plan on taking whatever is leftover straight to the donation center. Do not push it back into the garage!
At this point, you should be able to drop a box off at your local charitable organization. If you have a lot of one item, say suits are worth a good google search to see if you have a local shelter that has a focus on back to work, as those office attire items can be very useful for those organizations.
There is, of course, also Craigslist. Since I don’t care for random people coming to my home in that fashion I do not usually go that route and the turnaround time is not like an action. You’ll, of course, have to use your discretion.
Now we come to the undecided, the hard one! The one tool I have used successfully for years is the camera. Yes, the camera! Why, because I may not want that scarf anymore but maybe I bought it while I was on vacation and have a very fond memory of the trip. I allow myself the moment to travel down memory lane, reflect on why I loved the item, is there a way I could use it now, take lots of photos and then move it to the liquidate pile.
This may take more than a few minutes, it’s okay. In my years of doing this, I’ve found some things are incredibly hard to let go. Just downright painful. So I box them and each year I revisit until I can. There is no contest/reward here.
The things hardest for me to get rid of are:
- The mementos I have of loved ones who have passed away. Very, Very hard.
- Items that remind me of a place in time that I loved.
- Clothing from when I was younger and healthier.
We all have our weak spots… it’s okay. So, why purge if it’s painful? I always learn things about myself. I feel a weight has been lifted off my shoulders when I let go of things that are done. And things I really loved I want to give to someone to really love. There are so many people without why not share.
After you’ve got your garage/storage unit sorted you should be able to see two areas clearly the undecided that need another year and the keep. You are now ready to start on the inside of your house. Again, follow the exact same steps but do a room or closet one at a time. Remove everything that’s not a keep. Take to the garage and sort as we did earlier.
Eventually, everything should be kept inside your home. And everything in your garage (transition area) will become the home to undecided and liquidate. If you purge annually then the system is manageable.
One final note, if you have someone close to you that is also good at keeping on task share the experience. You can go down memory lane and your friend can pull you back to the task at hand. Just remember these are your things and you need to make the decision. No right or wrong.