Have you ever been in the midst of decluttering your home and caught yourself saying, “I really should …” As in “I should (read that book / play that game / use those art supplies)”
If you’re like me, you’re probably not being completely honest with yourself.
I’m going to share 3 “dangerous” words with you when it comes to decluttering
These words will sabotage your decluttering efforts every time. Watch out for them! Here they are.
Maybe you “should” [fill in the blank].
But how long has it been since you did?
Do you have more things than you can reasonably store?
Is your clutter causing you unnecessary guilt over things you don’t like or don’t want to use?
Are you overwhelmed by a garage full of stuff you “should” be using?
1. “Should” is secret code for guilt.
Guilt, as in: I bought (that shirt / that book / that gadget) and I would feel really guilty if my purchase was a waste of money so I’m going to pretend that it wasn’t and let it sit in my closet for the next 5 years.
Or my aunt gave me this sweater and I should use it someday. She’ll be hurt if she found out I gave it away.
The truth about “should.”
Should demands obligation. But who is doing the demanding? Who says you can’t decide you bought a picture you hate and get rid of it? The money is already spent.
Why add guilt to that burden? Who says your aunt’s feelings dictate what stays in your closet? She might not even notice if you get rid of the sweater and if she does ask, you can always say it wasn’t a good fit for you.
You don’t have to continue to carry the burden of guilt that unwanted stuff puts on you. Throw off the guilt and get rid of it!
2. The next dangerous word is “might”.
As in “I might (need that fancy dress /to need that fifth serving bowl/use that empty photo album).”
Might is secret code for indecisiveness.
I can’t bring myself to get rid of (that book, that dress, those craft supplies) so I’m going to pretend I have future use in mind. I might need that thing and so I’m going to put off what I know to be the truth and allow this thing to clutter up my house and bring me more guilt (see above).
A strategy for the “mights.”
Might is a bit trickier to tell if you’re being honest with yourself. One way to handle a “might” is to ask what happens if you do dispose of the item and then find that you do want it later?
For instance, I was hanging on to an empty photo album I bought 3 years ago (can you believe it?). It’s was a beautiful oversized album. I intended to fill it with family pictures. But here’s the thing – I can count on one hand the times I’ve had pictures printed. I much prefer to create photo books now.
I “might” still have pictures printed, but if I ever get around to that, I could always go out and find another $20 photo album.
Once I’m honest with myself, I admit I have no intention of using that photo album.
That task hasn’t even been on my to-do list for many, many months. So with a sigh of regret for a wasted $20, I took it to the thrift store today. Someone else will surely be happy to get a great bargain on a nice photo album and I have a little more room in a cupboard.
Plus, I’ll be more careful with my purchases in the future so I hopefully can avoid buying something I never use.
3. The last dangerous word is “handy”.
“Handy” as in “those (extra cookie sheets / extra chairs / old towels) might come in handy someday”. “Come in handy” = denial
What we’re often saying when we say we’re keeping something “in case it comes in handy” is that we don’t really have a use in mind, but the money’s already spent and therefore, we’re going to keep said thing “just in case.”
When I catch myself using this excuse, I ask myself honestly what are the chances I’ll use the thing in question. If I really do have a need for this particular item, I’ll keep it.
However, if I’m just avoiding a hard decision to get rid of something, I’ll bite the bullet and get rid of it.
How to combat something coming in “handy.”
Someone else needs this more than I do. Lose the guilt and choose to bless someone else with your unneeded item. Whether you sell it and make a little cash or give it away, you’ll be glad for the extra space in your home.
If I need (clutter-causing item) in the future, I can always get another one.
Won’t this space look great with all the extra space after we get rid of this?
It will be so easy to keep the house clean when I get rid of the extra stuff! (This is so true!)
I almost never declutter for other people without their permission.
These words aren’t intended to be used against other people. This is one of my decluttering rules. These rules are meant for you on how to declutter your home, and let others decide for themselves if they want to declutter.
Is it always wrong to keep something “just in case”?
I’m not saying using any of these 3 phrases is ALWAYS a bad idea; rather when you’re decluttering or organizing, be aware if they start to slip into your vocabulary.
You just might find it easier to declutter once you recognize these words for the “danger” they pose.
How do you stay on top of decluttering your home?