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top ten myths

The following is an excerpt from my book "Organize This! Practical Tips, Green Ideas, and Ruminations about your CRAP" called Top Ten Myths for not unloading CRAP (Clutter that Robs Anyone of Pleasure). (I have revised the list since the book was published in 2012.) 

I believe that most excuses for not getting rid of CRAP fall under the emotional categories of guilt, insecurity, and fear. Some people feel guilty about letting go of something someone gave to them or letting go of a family heirloom they never liked. They may feel insecure that the decisions to get rid of clutter will come back to haunt them and the money they spent is now wasted. Many are afraid they will need something as soon as they get rid of it (that’s an urban legend by the way).

As I work with my clients to achieve their goals, we find out why they are holding on to stuff they don’t use or don’t even want. When we identify their feelings of guilt, insecurity and fear, the excess stuff begins to fall away. If you need help unloading your clutter, here’s how to dispel those myths one by one. I ordered them in the familiar top ten style a la David Letterman.

Number 10 – “I might need it someday.”

If you haven’t used something in two years, it is clutter. This is just a guideline, but if clutter is getting in the way of achieving your goals or how you'd like your home to feel and look – donate it, sell it, give it away, or recycle it. See Chapter 6 in my book for how to go green with your CRAP.  

Number 9 – “It cost a lot of money!”

That doesn’t mean you can’t let it go. Keeping the item around is a constant reminder of how much you paid for the item and that you aren’t using it. Sell it and get some of your money back, or give it to someone who needs it.

Number 8 – “A friend or my child gave it to me.”

Friends and kids give us lots of things; it doesn't mean we'll like all of it. A gift is yours to do whatever you want with it. If you no longer want it, give it to someone else who will use it, regift it, or donate it.

Number 7 – “My aunt gave it to me and I want to display it when she comes to visit.”

I actually had a client say this to me. But I asked her to think of how often her aunt visits and if she thinks she'll remember she gave it to her. Try not to place a burden on yourself to keep track of that item for only that purpose - let it go.

Number 6 – “It’s been in my family for years.”

Family heirlooms are meant to be used and honored. That’s not happening if the stuff sits in your basement, attic, or storage facility. If you love it and it’s important to you, use it in your home. If you don’t love it or can’t use it, let it go so someone can use it before it's no longer useable. 

Number 5 – “I’m going to pass it down to my kids.”

Don’t assume your children want your stuff (a.k.a. antiques, china, etc.) unless you ask. If the answer is no: no means no. If someone does want it and you no longer need it, give it as a gift for a birthday or a holiday and watch the recipient delight in your gift now. Many parents also hold on to extra household items for their grown children, but don't hold onto it too long - most things have a shelf life and your children may not even need it.

Number 4 – “This will be worth a lot of money someday.”

Just because something is old, doesn't mean it's worth something. Many items are not as "collectible" or exceptional as the owner's think. Go on ebay and do some research or call a reliable auctioneer and find out the true value. Remember your item is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it.

Number 3 – “I’m saving it for my grandchildren.”

Do you even have grandchildren? How do you know they will want it? Will you be able to find the item if and when that time comes? The greatest gift for grandchildren is your time…or contributions to their college fund.

Number 2 – “My children will get rid of all this stuff when I’m gone.”

Ask people who have cleaned out their parent’s home and they will tell you it was emotionally complicated and physically exhausting. Some families are forced to rent a dumpster and throw perfectly good things into the landfill because time is of the essence and it’s too overwhelming to go through it piece by piece. Start small and unclutter little by little; your children will thank you.

And the Number 1 reason why people don’t get rid of CRAP – “But it’s so cute!”

Sure, it's cute, but if it's so cute, why aren’t you using it? Donate it to a charity, sell it on consignment or on eBay, give it away to someone who needs it or wants it, or recycle it responsibly.

If your clutter is starting to get in the way of moving forward in your life, don’t make excuses. Take action. When you stop justifying the existence of your clutter, it’s easier to let go of the emotion attached to the item and the item itself. If you need help, give me a call! 


Vali G. Heist, Owner
Certified Professional Organizer
Fully insured and bonded
The Clutter Crew
Mohnton, PA  19540
Phone: 610-914-3483