In a world twitterpated with Marie Kondo, minimalism is at an all-time high. But for a lot of people, the minimal mindset doesn’t come naturally. If you find yourself adding to the pile rather than detracting from it, you might need to ask yourself some questions. We’ve all seen “Hoarders,” right? While you might not be that extreme, if you have a hard time letting go of physical clutter, it can take a significant mindshift to get yourself to a more streamlined place. Next time you’re playing toss or keep, ask yourself these questions:
What precisely am I sentimental about?
When you’re evaluating an item, this is the very first question you should ask. If the answer is about an association with a person, place or event, chances are your sentiment isn’t about the object itself, but rather the memory. The memory will stay with you, even if the object doesn’t. Unless you really love the object itself, it’s OK to get rid of it.
Am I holding onto this out of obligation?
We all know those gifts. The blanket grandma made for you. The custom art piece your mother-in-law expects to be displayed in your living room. Many people hold onto gifts out of obligation, rather than because it’s something they actually love. This is a tricky one, but the fact of the matter is, you don’t have to keep something just because someone gifted it to you. And you certainly don’t have to keep it on display—that expectation is unfair. If it’s just going to sit in storage forever, donate it to someone who will actually use and enjoy it.
Am I holding onto this out of guilt?
Family heirlooms are often a source of contemplation when it comes to minimizing clutter. Yes, grandma’s dining set has been in the family for generations, but your house is too small for an eight-person solid wood table and chairs. If you’re holding onto items out of familial guilt, reach out to your family and see if anyone else is interested in the items. If not, you can donate them.
Is this something that can be digitized?
We live in the age of technology. Snap a picture or scan old photos and documents to free up space. Photo albums can take up space quickly. Instead of boxing them up, try backing them up instead.
Am I prepared to display it, care for it, use it, wear it, play with it, read it, whatever action it needs?
If you answered ‘yes,’ than you can keep it. If it’s just something you’re going to stuff in the garage for another 360 days, it’s time to set it free.