Decluttering Dilemmas and How to Solve Them

Do you know what I could be better at?


I know, I know. I’m all about getting rid of the excess, decluttering and minimising.

Thing is, I’m still very much on the path of becoming a minimalist, I still struggle with the day to day decision of determining what should stay and what should go.

It basically comes down to three things.

The Dilemmas

Some of my stuff is useful

There’s just too much of it.

Like the strappy vest tops I have. I made the mistake of getting lots of different colours and they just don’t go with every outfit or “occasion”. But on the other hand, they come in useful when you have another top, jumper or dress that you want a little extra warmth in. So they become more like underwear than anything else.

They also don’t seem to wear out, so I can’t even bin it.

Then, when it is not appropriate to wear, it suddenly seems like a better idea to keep it as a cleaning rag.

My action: get that stuff in a box and see if I ever go back to it. Perhaps apply the Seasonality Rule but be really strong on this.

It’s hard to give away

When something is hardly used then there is this thing going through my mind of, well, that could be useful again one day. There is also this thought of what a waste of money. Or maybe that’s just guilt for having bought something that I didn’t need.

Then there is the whole question of where is it best to give it? Who will get the most benefit from my hand-me-downs and slightly tatty books? Will it just end up being someone else’s clutter at the back of a shop because they can’t get rid of it?

I suppose, though, I should be thankful that I don’t have any hideous family heirlooms to contend with that I feel tied to keeping.

My action: research options in my area where there would be the most benefit.

I fall victim to “Just in Case”

The Minimalists say that these are the three most dangerous words in the English language.

Dangerous might be a push.

However, they are definitely not what you want to hear, or say, when trying to minimise your stuff.

Take clothes as an example. The arguments for keeping something follow these sorts of questions:

  • Just in case I lose weight / put on weight
  • Just in case it comes back into fashion
  • Just in case I’m an eighties bridesmaid again

Okay, so that last one we probably don’t say, but still we think that particular item will be of use or we are going to alter it or… Fill in the blank.

Then there’s kitchenware, small appliances, spare screws from build it yourself furniture, old mobile phones, electrical cables for who know what, all being kept “Just in Case..”

  • The new one breaks
  • The new one gets stolen
  • We buy a tv that needs scart leads (I mean, really?)

The likelihood is, if any of these things happen then we’ll want to buy new, or appropriate leads will come with the gadget.

My action: Assess the likelihood of these things ever needing to be used and find a better home for them.

I’m not giving up though. I’ll get there. Just writing this post prompted me to get up half way through and get rid of a few more things. Well, put them in a bag, anyway.

The Successes

It’s not all bad though. Some things I am good at.

Making Do

I’ve never been one for buying something because it’s new, you know, like the latest smartphone, or TV.

The laptop that I use to write this on is at least ten years old. I’ve even replaced the screen when it cracked after being dropped. Using YouTube. It only cost about 20 quid instead of the £300 plus it might have cost for a new one.

I sew up holes in jumpers and leggings, especially if they are only for wearing around the house. Tights / pantyhose only go in the bin if the ladder or hole can be seen. Until then, they go in the wash and get used again.

I have several coats, dresses, cardigans and jumpers that I have had for years (some of them 20+) because they do a job and still look good. I also have a woolly hat that I have had since I was about 5 or 6 and believe it or not I still wear it. (Apparently the top of your head, the bit that wears a hat, doesn’t change much after that age so, no, I didn’t have a really big head then, or a small one now.)

If this is your dilemma: Before going out and buying something new consider whether what you already have is really worth throwing out or if you can repair it.

Waiting It Out

If there is something that I think I want, I usually have a good think about it first. Especially if it is a pricier item. I ask myself a few questions:

  • What will this add?
  • Do I really need it?
  • Is it worth the money?
  • Do I have space for it?
  • Do I already own something that will fulfil the same purpose?

Then, I’ll wait for a bit and ask myself again in a couple of weeks.

To some extent, my buying problems are reduced by the fact that I don’t enjoy shopping. I used to, but no more. On the other hand, my husband has no such problem…

If this is your dilemma: Before buying something else, ask yourself these questions. Then wait for a while and see if you still feel as strongly about that new item. This is particularly useful when the want comes from an advert on the TV or in a magazine.

How about you? What makes minimising difficult for you? What do you find makes it easier?
Share in the comments below.

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Until next time, remember, if the excess baggage is weighing you down, you can always leave it in lost luggage.

Best wishes,

PS. Have you taken part in the poll yet?

Ear Worm: Tower of Strength, The Mission

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