Illustration of figure looking into a boxSome people are born with a natural ability to decide what to keep and what to toss.  My mom was one of these people.  Several years ago, Mom and Dad had rented some storage space in the barn of a friend.  At one point, this friend (whose name was Bill) needed the space cleared, so my parents went over to the farm to sort the stored items.  Bill and my Dad parked their trucks side-by-side.  Everything that was to be kept went into Dad’s truck.  All of the garbage items went into Bill’s truck to go to the dump.  Mom stood at the back and directed.  It brings a smile to my face to picture all 5’ 2” of her giving firm orders to “toss all of that stuff.”  I think they ended up with only a couple of boxes of things to keep.

If you need help in deciding what to keep, here are some questions to ask yourself.

1.  Do you use it?  This sounds simple, but sometimes we get stuck in the land of indecision.  What kinds of things are you keeping that fall into the category of “just in case?”  Here are some possibilities:  picnic or camping supplies, toddler furniture, clothes that don’t fit, car parts, espresso maker, fondue pot, craft supplies, fabric or yarn.  You get the idea.  Once again, do you use it?

2.  Do you love it?  This question applies to things to which we have a sentimental attachment or emotional response, such as home décor or furniture, clothing or Grandma’s china.  Be honest with yourself.  Are you keeping something because someone gave it to you, or because you love it?  Try to remove the guilt from your decision.

3.  Does it fit your life right now?  What this really boils down to, is whether you have used an item in the last year.  If you used to can peaches, but don’t anymore, then get rid of those canning jars.

Let’s say that you have 100 items that you could get rid of, but you’re reluctant because you might be able to use them some day.  They are not treasured family heirlooms, they’re just stuff.  But, the message that runs through your head is, “I might need this some day.”  At the same time, your home is overflowing.  This means that you are sacrificing your own peace of mind for the sake of “just in case.”  Here’s your new mindset.  I would bet that out of those 100 things, you might end up needing 1 of them in the future.  So, what if, in a couple of years you have to go out and buy a new espresso maker to replace the one you donated?  Is the space to store all 100 items really worth the one that you will need?

In the end, you will gain peace of mind with a refreshed space, more room to move around in your home, and you can help someone in need by making a donation.  If I have trouble making a decision, I just picture my Mom, and I get a fresh perspective.  Plus, a smile.

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