Your home is living space, not storage space.
Use it or Lose it
Free the Space. Clear Your Mind.
One of the reasons that clutter accumulates so readily in our homes, is that we fear we will miss things if we let them go. It is an easy rationale to justify. It might like it makes economic sense to hold on to something that you have already bought and might need down the road. But holding on to those items can have a higher cost than the cost of replacement if you do need it again. Keeping items for ‘just in case’ means that you have to move and maintain and also means building on the stress of visual clutter (5 Benefits of Minimalism).
Read on for some ideas about using the one-year rule in your decluttering efforts.
Why a One-Year Rule
One rule of thumb that you can use to guide difficult decisions is to consider whether you have used the item in the last year. Using the mark of one year ensures that you have gone through the full cycle of a year and all the seasons so if you were going to use the item, there would likely have been a call for it. If you haven’t used it in a year, chances are you won’t need it in the next year either. Use that mark to let it go. If you find you do need the item, you can replace it and, in the meantime, it will not be taking up valuable space in your mind. Keep in mind that you don’t have to own something that you need that rarely – you can borrow or rent instead.
When implement the one-year rule, there are some questions to ask yourself to make the decision easier. If you are unsure about whether or not to purge something, ask these questions:
- Can I name three different times / ways that I can use this in the next 6 months?
- Will I have a chance to use this within the next two weeks?
- Is this something unique that does not duplicate another item that I own? If it is a duplicate, do I prefer this to the other item?
Be honest and realistic. If you answer ‘Yes’ to all these questions, keep it; if not discard it or put it in a ‘possible’ or ‘defer’ box to reconsider – within a limited timeline. If you answer ‘no’ to even one of the questions, that should help you feel better about discarding or donating it.
Naturally, there are some things that you might not have used in a year but that are worth keeping because they are likely to be used again. Things like seasonal items could fall into this category. Depending on the time of year, something like Christmas decorations might have been used in a year but will be put to use during the season. You might have a formal dress or a tuxedo that is used rarely but still fits and suits you for a special occasion. If it is classic and quality, hold on to it if you realistically believe that you will wear it again. Also, seasonal items like winter clothing and accessories might not have been used in a year but will be needed in the coming months; you don’t want to get rid of those. If at all possible, store your out-of-season clothes in a different location so they do not clutter your everyday space. Rotate your clothes each season. At the same time, take the opportunity to purge items that are damaged or no longer fit or suit you.
Some items are more emotionally fraught than others and can be a challenge. get rid of things that are not emotionally significant. Digitize drawings, certificates, and photos when possible. You might also print some and create a display, which could be on a rotating basis to highlight different work and/or family members. Involve all family members, including kids on a discussion of execeptions. Have each family member curate their own work, art and other mementos and keep favourites in a box with their name and custom touches.. Give each family member a box of the same size – a banker box works well but decide what works for your family but everyone should have the same amount of space. This will help contain how many ‘exceptions’ each member of the household can claim. The owner has the right to choose hat will be kept in their box of treasures; if the box gets full, something will need to go to make room for new additions. Help family members to record the stories of items that they have to let go. They might do that with pictures or stories. Of course, parents can reserve the right to save some of their children’s milestone items in their own box if their child decides to discard something.
Give these ideas a try to help you reduce the amount of stuff that you rarely use, if you use it at all. If it has been unused for a year, you might even have forgotten that you have it, which makes it even less likely that you will miss it. In any case, if you have not used it in 12+ months, it will probably feel good to let it go.
Challenge Questions for Day 16
Do you use the one-year rule? Why/ Why not? Will you try it [try it again] now?
Do you have a treasure box? Have you curated its contents in the past 12 months?
If you do not have your own treasure / memory box, start one today. Find a decorated box you love or make one of your own. Follow the guidelines described in this post.
Declutter Challenge for Day 16
Take out your holiday ornaments, clear your holiday ornaments and prepare to donate or give away any that you haven’t used in recent seasons or no longer need. Maybe one of your siblings has a different decorating style than you and would better appreciate some of the family ornaments that you have saved.
The timing on this challenge might seem early if you are thinking Christmas decorations but the timing is important. Places like thrift shops and church sales are usually only able to sell these items in the 6 or so weeks leading up to the holiday season. Otherwise, they have to store them – and often trash them to save space. Donating holiday decor at this time of year will mean it has a better chance to go to home and family that will appreciate it.