At this point, you have probably run across some belongings that don't exactly serve a practical purpose in your life. Some items simply cannot be judged according to their function alone. Certain objects, such as artwork or collectibles, are kept because they are aesthetically pleasing. Others are treasured for their sentimental value. However, there is another set of criteria that you may find easier to apply in these situations.
IS IT BEAUTIFUL, USEFUL, OR LOVED?
Artist William Morrison developed the most effective way to determine if an item truly serves a purpose. Ask yourself if the object is "beautiful, useful, or loved." I teach this phrase to my clients like a mantra -? repeated over and over and over (actually, they get a bit sick of it after awhile!) Imagine your most treasured belongings -? they all seem to fit into one of these three categories, don't they? Think about it -? if an object isn't beautiful, useful, or loved, then why are you keeping it?
BUT IT WAS EXPENSIVE!
You may say that you are keeping an item because you spent a lot of money on it, and you can't stand to see it go to waste. Well, if you aren't using it now, isn't it still going to waste? Keeping something simply because it was costly is not a good enough REASON. These objects are nothing but high-price reminders of purchasing mistakes you made in the past. Perhaps you can sell it (yard sale, consignment, online auction) and recoup some of the expense.
I MIGHT BE ABLE TO WEAR IT AGAIN!
So, you're keeping those size 3 clothes because you MIGHT fit into them again some day. One question ?- does keeping a garment that is too small encourage you to lose weight or fill you with shame because you still haven't reached your goal? We heap enough guilt onto our heads every day without creating additional pressures. Isn't it healthier to focus on feeling better about your appearance NOW? Why not take your old wardrobe to a consignment shop ?- then spend your profits on clothes that fit and make you feel attractive just as you are.
DON'T "GUILT TRIP" YOURSELF
Another rationalization that I hear fairly regularly is, "Aunt Mildred gave that to me. She would be so (disappointed, hurt, angry) if I got rid of it." I can only respond by asking, "Who runs your life -? you or your Aunt Mildred?" I firmly believe that once you receive a gift, it is yours to do with as you see fit. We place too much importance on "stuff" as it is, without creating an unnecessary sense of obligation. The idea of keeping something that you have no use for, just so you can drag it out when your relatives visit, seems a bit dishonest. Wouldn't you prefer that your loved ones respect who you are, rather than who they want you to be?
FRIENDS, ACQUAINTANCES, AND STRANGERS
If you are still having a hard time letting go of your clutter, you might try an alternative approach. Judith Kolberg, head of the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization, suggests that you treat your belongings as "friends, acquaintances, and strangers." Friends are those items that you like having around ?- ones that really mean something to you. Acquaintances are objects that come into your life, stay for a short time, and then leave again. And strangers are easily discarded ?- you have no strong feelings of devotion toward these items. This method works particularly well for people who have powerful emotional attachments to their belongings.
Ramona Creel is a Professional Organizer and the founder of OnlineOrganizing.com -- a web-based one-stop shop offering everything that you need to get organized at home or at work. At OnlineOrganizing.com, you may get a referral to an organizer near you, shop for the latest organizing products, get tons of free tips, and even learn how to become a professional organizer or build your existing organizing business. And if you would like to read more articles about organizing your life or building your business, get a free subscription to the "Get Organized" and "Organized For A Living" newsletters. Please visit http://www.OnlineOrganizing.com or contact Ramona directly at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.