Struggling to let go of sentimental items? You are not alone. It is usually the hardest category to face in our homes and completely overwhelming for most. Our fear often times is what keeps us holding on, fear that we may loose the memory of the time or person if we let it go. Here in this guide, I have listed 10 ways that can really help you when crossing that bridge of fear.
KNOWING YOUR WHY
Knowing your “Why” is essential to letting go of sentimental items. Your why might be that you either need to downsize, you purely want to reduce, or that your things are weighing you down. When you focus on your why, you can come back to this when you get stuck. Spend some time reflecting and finding your why if you don’t know it already.
HOLDING ON CAN WEIGH MORE THAN LETTING GO
Have you ever had that feeling of feeling lighter when you let go of something? I have experienced this personally and many times with clients. I always recommend you “Keep the items in your home that you love and use and that make you feel GOOD”. Anything else, has the potential to leave us feeling anxious, guilty, sad, angry, overwhelmed and more.
IF EVERYTHING IS SPECIAL, NOTHING IS SPECIAL
Exactly that. 50 trophies cannot be as special as just a few. Whatever the category, group like items together and then try and pick out an item or two that has the most significance. As Peter Walsh says “Find the treasures and let go of the rest”. If the items are from a deceased family member, ask yourself “If ……… asked me to choose just a few special items that truely represent them, which ones would they be?”
YOUR FAMILY DOESN’T WANT IT
Times have changed and these days, no one wants that antique piece of furniture that doesn’t fit in with their lifestyle. There are a number of places that will take a look at collectables that I have listed below. Be honest with yourself and respect your family’s choices.
CAN IT ADD VALUE TO SOMEONE ELSE?
If your family is not interested, it can most likely add value to someone else. I often find that the clients that find it the hardest to let go, can let go more easily when they realise that someone else will get value out of the item.
OUR MEMORIES ARE INSIDE US
Not in our things! According to research, experiences result in longer-lasting happiness than material possessions. Over time, people’s satisfaction with the things they buy decreases. Experiences continue to provide happiness through memories long after the event occurred and I know that to be very true for me.
TAKE A PHOTO
If you are still worried about loosing the memory of an item if you let it go, take a photo of it and store it somewhere worthy, such as a special journal. Record the story with it and it can be handed down through the generations. This is really useful for larger hard to store items and children’s artwork and creations.
QUESTIONS TO ASK:
Asking the right questions is key when reviewing your items. Without the correct questions, we may potentially get stuck and therefore, hold on. Check out my blog on “10 questions to ask yourself when decluttering” below. It can be super helpful to ask a friend for help if you struggle with asking the questions on your own.
DEAL WITH IT NOW OR LEAVE IT FOR SOMEONE ELSE TO…..
Ever heard of “Swedish death cleaning”? In Swedish, the word for death cleaning is döstädning, which is a term for the cleaning and de-cluttering you do when you think your time on earth might be coming to an end. However it can be done at any time in your life. In short, it is basically about decluttering everything in your life so that when you die, your affairs and “stuff” are all in order. This takes away the struggle, stress (and potential arguments!) of your family having to decide between themselves.
Create a sentimental box for those very special items you want to keep. I have a few of these myself, which I review every few years. Every family member can have their own box, the idea being that when your kids leave home, they can take it with them.
In my years of assisting people to let go of their things, I have found the majority of them often struggle to let go. Use this as a guideline to support you along the way and let me know what worked for you xx
The garage is often an area where items get dumped and tend to have a clutter affect. It seems to be a magnet for random items that we either don’t know what to do with or have just not made a decision on. Summer is the time of the year when I receive lots of calls from people who want to get their garage organised, while the weather is warm and there is less chance of rain. If your garage needs some TLC and you are not sure where to start, check out my blog ‘6 Steps to an organised garage’ where I have broken down the process into bite size chunks. Today I am adding a few more tips on how to create a garage space that is functional and organised.
How do you want it to look?
It’s important to have a vision for the space before you start. How do you want it to look and function? Do you have any storage? Do you need to create better storage solutions? If items are lying about on the floor of your garage, it may be that you don’t have the necessary storage to house them. Functionality is key, but your garage can also look cool too!
Creating a budget
You might want to work with some of the storage you already have, add a few pieces in or get a completely new look altogether. It will come down to your budget so spend some time planning that. It does not have to cost the earth to get your garage organised – it depends on how much stuff you have and need to store. Firstly though, I never recommend buying storage of any kind until you have gone through the process of decluttering first, so you know exactly how many items you are working with. Many people make this mistake and often blow their budget by spending too much on storage before they have even begun. Some basic shelving and clear plastic boxes work a treat in your garage and is a very affordable option, keeping items contained and visible. Whatever you budget might be, it is important to be able to see your items, know where they are and gain access to them.
Planning your garage
It’s important to create zones for items as this not only makes it easier to find them, but by putting ‘like’ items together, it just makes sense. Think of it like a Bunnings store where they have made it easy to find what you need. Items need to have a place (zone) that will make sense to you and the people you live with. Every day items should be in your ‘Prime’ space and occasional use items either up high, lower down or in those not as easy to get to spaces if you have them.
Mitre 10 and Bunnings have some great storage solutions for your tools that are very affordable. Anything from a pegboard to wall or modular cabinets, hooks, sturdy storage boxes and bins and shelving units. Wardrobe World have some good options for fitting out your garage including storage for sporting goods, fishing gear and golf trolleys. If you have a lot of sports equipment, Torpedo7 are the people to see and if you are wanting a complete re fit and budget is not an option, check out Gladiator Garage – they are the mac daddy of garage outfitters! If you want to get creative and DIY, Pinterest has some amazing ideas that can give you some inspiration as well.
Do you want to park your car in the garage?
Is it in your vision to be able to park your car in the garage or do you want to use it just for storage? Maybe you want to set up a gym in there or use it as a creative space? Folding workbenches might be an option along one wall if you want both. They are hinged and can be lifted up to create a useable workspace or folded down when not in use. Either way, if you want to be able to park your car in the garage you will need to keep your storage as streamlined as possible. Use all of the available wall areas where possible as well as the ceiling when planning your garage space. My top tip here is to get items off the floor where possible.
Try to get into the habit of not using your garage as a dumping ground! Work on making decisions about your things first. It’s a good idea to have a clear out of your garage each season, or of that’s too often at least yearly. You’d be amazed at how quickly ‘Stuff’ builds up in this area. A garage sale can be a good option if you need to move items on – it’s a great way to get the family involved and lots of fun. Read my blog ‘How to organise a successful garage sale’ here….
I’d love to hear if you have any more storage solutions that have worked for you, so feel free to let me know here. And if you’re feeling inspired to get stuck into your garage before summer is over, all the best of luck! 🙂
It happens to most of us at one point in our lives, whether we like it or not. For many, it is a very overwhelming task that forces us to face our stuff. Now for those of us that have not faced our stuff on a regular basis, the thought of letting go of a lifetime of possessions is daunting and unthinkable. But it doesn’t have to be that way. I was recently interviewed by the NZ Woman’s weekly on this topic and I explained how it can be a great opportunity to celebrate and enjoy a fresh start in life. Today I’m going to share with you my top 5 tips on how this process can be made SO much easier.
#1 Live in the moment
Downsizing doesn’t mean that you will loose everything you own. Sure, you won’t be able to take every item you own with you – it is just not possible. It forces us to make many decisions which can be very difficult, depending on our circumstances. Taking only the things we truly love and use now and which add value to our lives, causes us to live in the present. And what a wonderful thing that is! Having only those items in our homes that make us feel good, are the ones to surround ourselves with. Not the ones that cause us to feel any kind of negative emotions, which is distracting to say the least. Viewing downsizing as a positive experience where we can pare back and be honest with ourselves is truly liberating.
#2 Plan well in advance
This is one of the biggest problems I see – people just don’t give themselves enough time to prepare in advance. And believe me, the process takes a lot longer than you think it will. The more things you own, the more time it will take to make decisions. And if your belongings have not been reviewed regularly, the harder it will be to make those decisions. The more organised you are prior to the big day, the less stress you (and family members) will encounter. If you are pushed for time, I recommend that you employ the services of a professional to help take the stress out of the process.
#3 Ask for help
One of the hardest things people struggle with is letting go of possessions. If it’s all too much and you are feeling overwhelmed, ask for help! Whether it’s from a family member, objective friend or professional, it’s okay to reach out if you are struggling at any point during the process. It is so much easier making decisions when you have a support buddy to help you and speeds the process along when you are feeling stuck.
#4 Ask the right questions
It is important to ask the right questions throughout this process. “ Do I love it?” “Do I use it?” “Does it add value to my life now?” are key questions to ask. Our situations change over time and items may no longer have the value they once had. We move on from things as we change as people – this is very natural and a part of life. Embrace who you are now and be honest with your decision making, remembering that you simply cannot take everything with you anyway.
#5 Capture your memories
There are so many memories behind our belongings. Most items in our homes have stories attached to them. I find that once the story has been told, it is easier to let go of the item. Take photos of treasured items and record their stories. These can be passed down through generations and the legacy lives on. Remember that our memories are inside us and will be with us forever. We don’t always need to keep the item to remember the experience, but having a photo triggers our memory and allows us to reminisce.
By following these tips, your downsizing experience can be a truely positive life change. You will most definitely go through many emotions as you face your belongings. But what might seem like an overwhelming task to begin with, can turn into a wonderful opportunity to create new memories and a new start in life!
Yay for Spring! I love this season and have been enjoying getting into some decluttering after what seems like the longest Winter ever. If you’re as keen as I am to get into some of those spaces in your home that need some attention this Spring, my 5 step method will really help you to conquer any of them.
Before you start though, make sure you have some tools on board. Here’s what I suggest:
Not sure where to start? Start somewhere small, like a shelf, junk drawer, a cupboard or the likes. Your car is a GREAT place to start! Just don’t start in a sentimental area or an area that is too emotional for you. Especially if you haven’t decluttered in a while.
Finally, create a vision for the space. How do you want it to look, feel and function (function being the most important.) Ask yourself what is working in the space and what is not working?
Step 1: Which ever area you decide to start working in, take everything out of the drawer, cupboard, shelf, box, you get the idea. Simply take all of the items out of the space.
Step 2: Put like with like items together. By doing this, you can see exactly how much of each item you have and when they are all together like this, it makes it a lot easier to make decisions on the items, whew!
Step 3: Time to make decisions on the items – pop over to my blog on “10 questions to ask yourself when you declutter” to help you here. Be honest with your decision making and ask a friend to help you if you are struggling on your own. Here’s where you use your banana boxes for charity, recycle and relocate items and the rubbish bags for rubbish and the bulky donate items.
Step 4: Move onto the next shelf, drawer, cupboard and repeat steps 1 – 3. Once you have finished, it is time to reorganise the items you have decided to keep. Reorganise them in a way that makes sense to you and at their point of use. The most important thing to remember is that the area needs to function well. You can always pretty it up later. Keep what is working in the space and change what is not working.
Step 5: Take the rubbish and recycling to your bins, the charity items to your car (rather than sitting around the house as you or others might be tempted to go back into them!) and put your relocate items in their correct place. If they don’t have a home, you will have to create one.
If you are struggling to get started, put a date in your diary at a time that will work for you and stick to it. Call a friend to hold you accountable. Get the family on board to help! Doing a little each day even if it’s only ten minutes, will eventually add up. It’s completely okay to do a space in stages, if that is what will work for you. Set a timer and reward yourself when you are done, put on some music and make it fun!
Have an awesome Spring, good luck with your decluttering and let me know how you get on 🙂
Living with the things that we love brings liberation. But the thought of letting go of our possessions can be overwhelming for many. So much so, that many don’t face them at all – it’s all too much. Does that sound like you? If so, this will be a good read for you. It is important that our belongings make us feel happy rather than making us feel sad, guilty or resentful. This month I shared my four key reasons with Stuff that can help you to understand why it can be so difficult to let go.
This is the first article of a series that I am writing for Stuff Magazine 🙂