Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
— Arthur Ashe
How to not keep everything.

How to not keep everything.


If you're like me, you dream of a beautiful, light-filled, clutter-free home. And, if you're also like me, you sometimes feel as though it will always be just a dream.

More and more I am realizing the value of beautiful, peaceful home spaces. Many times, we treat our homes more like a museum for our stuff than a refuge. And I think it contributes greatly to feelings of stress and anxiety in our lives.

Becoming Minimalist cites:

In a 2008 NAPO survey of 400 consumers nationwide, 27 percent said they feel disorganized at work, and of those, 91 percent said they would be more effective and efficient if their workspace was better organized. 28 percent said they would save over an hour per day and 27 percent said they would save 31 to 60 minutes each day.

If this is the case for us at work - I wonder how much time and efficiency cluttered homes cause us!

According to the National Soap & Detergent Association, eliminating clutter would also cut 40% of housework out of our lives!

As a child, I had an irresistible urge to keep everything. And I mean everything. I had what I referred to as "special boxes" full of, well, sentimental junk. I kept rocks and shells I'd found at the beach (the beach I lived less than an hour away from), movie stubs, and prizes from birthday parties.

The older I grew, the better I got with this - sort of. Now, instead of keeping worthless mementos (much of which I doubt I would remember now), I kept books. Dozens and dozens of books. Books I would likely never read. Books I definitely never be able to read, because they were in other languages - languages I didn't know.

Recently, my husband and I came to stay with my parents, and my father asked me to go through the boxes of items I had kept over the years, to see if there was anything I no longer wanted. Here are some of the things I found:

  • A box full of composition books, many of which were less than half full.
  • Stuffed animals I never played with.
  • Every letter I ever received from a pen pal.
  • A box of pictures I had printed out, but never scrap-booked.

Needless to say, I donated a lot of items, and what I couldn't donate was added to the "burn" pile next to my parents' fireplace.

Sometimes, I feel like we can be in an abusive relationship with our stuff. Every time you almost decide to throw something away, there's that twinge - that "But what if I need it one day? Will I regret this?" I promise you, in most cases, the answer is no!

Can you look around your home and positively say that everything you own adds value to your life?

The National Association of Professional Organizers stated that 80% of what we own we never use.

Most of us can't even say that we use everything we own, let alone that it adds value to our lives!

As you think about spring cleaning this year, think about whether the items you surround yourself add to your life. If they don't, maybe it's time to part with them.


Break up with the buy.

Break up with the buy.

5 free resources for the lifelong learner.

5 free resources for the lifelong learner.