For the past five months, I have been undergoing what seems to be a never-ending move. There is no arguing that it has been mentally and physically exhausting. However, after moving countless other times in my life, I have learned to see the positive. Throughout this experience, I have practiced the hard yet rewarding art of de-cluttering.
It is completely normal for people to accumulate various items, some valuable and others…not so much. But I know from experience that once you start purging, it can be very cathartic. We place so much importance on material items but some we don’t see for years, yet feel the need to keep anyway. Perhaps it is because it is sentimental, or because we invested a little too much on it, or it makes us feel safe. Hoarding is easier than one thinks. Regardless, de-cluttering can bring a sense of self-satisfaction and gratification.
There are many items I have removed from the “must keep” list and I wanted to share some tips and ideas that might be helpful for you the next time your life requires a purge. Unnecessary clutter can prohibit us from being our best self.
Linens, Bedding, Towels
I found linens that I’d kept from 25 years ago because they were gifts from relatives. Embroidered, monogrammed sheet sets from Greece, Egypt, and Italy; comforters and duvets that were barely used, but that I never knew whether I’d need them or not; brand new towels sets that I knew I wouldn’t use, but felt bad because well—they were new; throw pillows, throws and some coverlets. Not only was I finally saying my good-byes, but there was a sense of joy knowing that my local women’s shelter welcomed them with open arms. It was a win/win!
Tip #1: Don’t keep items just because you feel you have to.
Everyone who knows me knows that I LOVE the holidays! Over the years, I’ve given my family some of the excess decorations because I know they can use them. However, despite the consistent decrease in my holiday inventory, my storage didn’t quite seem to lessen in quantity. Through this transition, I have been able to sort through the must-haves and release the “maybe I should keep” items.
Tip #2: Create a list of items you would consider “must-haves.”
For me, decluttering my kitchen was a hard task. I have been a cook most of my life and love to use new gadgets. Years ago, I bought an old-fashioned apple peeler because it was so beautiful and an antique. I remember when I first got it. I took it out of the box, attempted to use it and then quickly put it back up high in my cupboard. How many coffee mugs does one need? Food processors? Sets of dishes? Graters? I was nervous that I didn’t have enough space in the kitchen. However, not having enough space wasn’t the issue. It was the surplus of items that were the issue. Once again, all the items went to a great cause—people so very thankful.
Tip #4: Keep the items you would get the most use out of.
Photographs, Greeting Cards, and Frames
I had a trunk—yes, a whole trunk—dedicated to photographs, cards, and frames from over the years. This was the most challenging of exercises to purge because of sentimental reasons—some happy and some sad. There were sets of three photographs from various occasions that, after not looking at them for quite some time, I don’t know what I was thinking. Out of all of the memorable photographs, I recommend selecting those that you would like to showcase. That way the most important memories are easy to access and enjoy.
Tip #5: Turn clutter into decor by displaying your most sentimental items.
Industry Books and Magazines
As a fashion designer and personal brand strategist, I not only get my inspiration from books, art publications, and industry editorials. As I opened several dust-filled boxes, it made me think how these resources have assisted me at some point in my life and career. I was thankful for the knowledge that they provided me with but I knew it was time to let them go. Consider donating these books to libraries, hospitals, senior citizens establishments or educational institutions.
Tip #6: Donate books or magazines that you don’t see yourself reading again.
Clothes and Accessories
Fashion is what I do best. However, every once in a while, it is important to do a serious analysis of your closet and drawers. Look at the items that you absolutely don’t want to wear. Think of the trends that will never be back in style, no matter how fashion evolves. Once you sort through the clothes you will actually wear in the next year—get rid of the rest of the items in your closet. This includes jewelry and handbags.
Tip #7: If you don’t see yourself wearing certain clothes within the next year, get rid of them.
For me, decluttering has left me refreshed and excited about the new chapter in my life. It is like that feeling of getting into bed with fresh, clean and crisp linens or knowing you successfully completed an assignment and your desk is clear, just like your mind—at least for the time being.
In today’s world, time is the true luxury. That being said, why not take the time to de-clutter your life and enjoy making memories with your family and friends—who are the most valuable asset in life. Taking the time to de-clutter will also alleviate any added stress for a better mental state.