Lead a Less Cluttered Life

Posted August 25, 2012 by Marcy Farrey in Life After Five

Another season is ending and it’s almost time to dig out your sweaters, pants and tights. That means you might need to dig through that closet and reorganize your possessions. But if you’re anything like me, that’s going to be a weekend-long task — maybe even two weekends.

New York Times Contributor Carl Richards says, chances are, “You Probably Have Too Much Stuff.”  Richards points to the story of one man, Andrew Hyde, who made it his goal to minimize what he owned. At one time, Hyde owned only 15 things. The story inspired Richards to examine what he owned verses what he actually needed. While he still owns a decent amount of possessions, he found some items he had no idea why he was still hanging on to: a tie he hadn’t worn in four years and a shirt that didn’t fit anymore.

All of us women have that pair of pants or that dress that we used to fit into during our skinnier days. Or maybe you’re holding on to pieces that are too big, just in case you accidentally gain the weight back. Either way, we all have trouble letting go of something we think we might need someday.  But Richards says there is a cost to holding on to all of those things:

When we hold on to stuff we no longer want or use, it does indeed cost us something more, if only in the time spent organizing and contemplating them. I can’t tell you how many times I have thought about getting rid of that tie (for instance), and every time I went to choose a shirt for the day, I would think about the few that no longer fit.”

Not only does holding on to stuff you don’t need cost you physical space, it can cost you mental space. Having too much physical clutter can create mental clutter, and it keep you from seeing new possibilities for yourself. If you’re holding on to an item from the past, you might be having some trouble moving on and accepting that it is no longer part of who you are. Of course, there are sentimental items, but you have to be selective. A pair of pants that no longer fits is not something you need to keep. If your size changes, then think of it as a chance to get something new and even better.

Still skeptical and a little afraid to let go? Richards offers two tips to get you started:

1. At the end of every season, go through your clothes. If you didn’t wear it one time, get rid of it.

2. This process will generate a stack of stuff. For what it’s worth, don’t try to sell it on eBay. It’s another cost (in time). So save yourself a headache, donate it to a charity and take the tax credit.”

If you’re hesitant to let go of something, donating it can help. It feels better to know that what you’re giving can be useful to someone else. Even without you, a once-prized item can have a life! Of course, you can also choose to give an item to a friend, or take it to a local resale shop.

Take some time this weekend to evaluate what you’re holding on to. Do you really need it? Start this next season off right, and make room for the new opportunities coming your way.

Read the rest of Richards’ advice here.

About the Author

Marcy Farrey

Marcy Farrey is a videographer, writer, and editor. In her previous life, she worked as a broadcast news reporter and producer in Lincoln, Nebraska and as a writer and producer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She has a Master of Arts in Writing and Publishing from DePaul University and a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University. Learn more about Marcy on her website www.marcyfarrey.com.

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