Hey guys! I know it’s been forever since I last wrote- I’ve been on hiatus trying to focus on growing my business- but I decided to come out of blog retirement to tackle a topic that comes up constantly in my job as a professional organizer, working with people on getting rid of items in their homes.
Upon discussing what I do with others, I often find that people assume everyone can just de-clutter on their own and they don’t need someone to do it with them. However, it can be very difficult for someone looking at their own stuff to even see opportunities for downsizing and simplifying. When I look at someone else’s space I see multiple potential areas that could be de-cluttered, while the person who’s been living there has become used to seeing those items in that area and almost blind to the potential and opportunity they have to remove and create space. I’ve had many clients tell me, upon the removal of items that have clearly been sitting for many years untouched, that they never even thought of taking it away because they just have become so used to it being there.
In addition to many other benefits of hiring a professional organizer, including having someone who has excellent spacial skills and can envision how a room can be set up to ensure maximum efficiency, function and organization, just having that extra, experienced set of eyes looking at the space is hugely beneficial.
However, seeing the clutter isn’t the only challenge. Once we get past that point of seeing it is when I often run into (literal) obstacles with my clients which make it challenging for them to get rid of things they don’t need. Here are my top eight obstacles to de-cluttering:
- It Still Works! This is a very popular response to the suggestion of removal. Yes, technically it still ‘works’- it functions and has a use- but does it work for YOU? Does having it sit unused for years in this space you want cleared or used for something else really work for you? In the words of Marie Kondo- does it bring you joy? Or is it adding to the stress this clutter is causing? Then no, it doesn’t work.
- It’s still good! See above.
- I paid a lot of money for it! This is where my husband’s favorite economic theory comes into play- the Sunk Cost Fallacy. Many people feel that if they paid for something, especially if they paid a lot for something, they want to use it as much as they possibly can. That’s totally understandable. However, when something stops being of any practical use to you and you’re literally keeping it unused in an area taking up space, that’s when it stops making sense. You’ve already spent the money on it, and you used it and got enjoyment out of it- keeping it past its point of necessity will not bring your money back. I find this a lot with expensive baby items like cribs or strollers that are no longer needed, or appliances that have already been replaced- oftentimes my clients will feel better donating these items rather than just throwing them out, to which I say Gezuntaheit! Just as long as it’s out of your house, doesn’t matter to me where it goes!
- My husband will kill me if I get rid of this! Ah, the classic ‘blame it on the hubby’ excuse. As much as we believe that our husbands have a special, meaningful connection to every item in our houses, believe it or not most of the time they really don’t (psst… it might actually be you with the attachment, as much as you don’t want to admit it :). They do have a few prized possessions that they would notice if one went missing, but for the most part they are pretty simple creatures with very short memories. Chances are, if something has been sitting in the garage collecting dust for years and you got rid of it, your husband would never even know the difference. And they’ll thank you for unearthing something else in the process that they actually had been looking for!
- My kids will kill me if i get rid of this! See above. Even shorter memories. And guess what- as much as they will complain and kvetch about having to clean up their toys or get rid of something, kids thrive in environments that are organized, clean and structured. It keeps them calmer and even safer.
- This has sentimental value! This is always a tricky one. We are all wired to be suckers for nostalgia and we tend to have strong connections to the past which we channel through items that bring back those memories for us. However, holding onto items just for the connection they hold to the past and not allowing yourself to make the space to buy something else that you would actually enjoy is not a way to live. I always tell my clients- create one space for sentimental items- whether it’s a box, shelf or bin- and do not allow the nostalgia items to exceed that space. If they do, you need to get rid of some items. As long as it is contained and not taking over your house, The Boca Organizer approves. 🙂
- What if I need it again in the future? The scenario: You have window treatments in your garage that are really unwieldy and taking up space. They come from your first apartment, 15 years and 3 homes ago, and you’re keeping them just in case one day you move to a place that will fit them once again. Here’s the thing: everything can be replaced. We live in a consumer society with blinds stores for days! But seriously, the odds that you will move to a new house that has the exact right size windows as the drapes you’re holding onto are extremely slim. Plus, they’re probably out of style anyway.
- It’s too heavy to move! This comes up a lot when it comes to elderly clients- it’s obviously a lot easier to keep things the way they are than to have to shlep heavy things out of the house. But think of all the prime space you’re losing just because you don’t want to make the effort to hire a strong organizer or, if necessary, a couple of movers to haul it away. And take it from me- once you remove that weight from your home, you’ll feel it lift off your shoulders!
Now that we’ve tackled all the obstacles, it’s time to get organized! Give me a call or send me a message– The Boca Organizer is here for you!