Cleaning isn’t just for spring. In fact, I find school’s holiday break to be a very effective time for decluttering. You’re already being bombarded by the materialistically-infatuated frenzy of society’s version of Christmas, Hanukah, etc. It’s nice to get out of the claustrophobic avarice of the world and come home to a clean, fresh, and tidy room. While stacking up old books, CDs, and shoes may seem like no big deal, it can become a dangerous habit. The longer you hang onto something, whether it be for sentimental value or simply routine, it becomes much harder to let go of. Starting the process of decluttering can be the hardest part. To make it a little easier, get out three boxes and label them Donate, Storage, and Trash. I'm in the middle of the process right now, and while it is quite time consuming, it is also so relieving and calming to see how much you don't have to deal with anymore. Use these six questions below to help decide where an item gets sorted or if it obtains the value to stay out in your precious sanctuary from the world.
1. Would I buy this today or would I enjoy
receiving it as a gift?
Also consider how much you would spend on it. If you might give a dollar for that trinket, it's probably not worth saving. If you’d rip open the wrapping paper and immediately struggle to plaster on a fake smile, why are you still holding onto it? Do yourself a favor, and toss it in the “Donate” box.
2. Is this broken or disgusting?
This may seem like the stupidest, most ridiculous question, but you’d be surprised how much clutter would be so easy to trash if it wasn’t your room.We tend to mix up feeling with objects. That shirt from third grade summer camp with infinite grass stains, holes, and a questionable tie-dye job? Put it in the "Trash" box. You'll always have the memories and the photos, which can go in the "Storage" bin, but relieve yourself of that fashion monstrosity you outgrew over a decade ago.
3. Do I own something else that can do the same thing?
With the wave of new technology that has swept the world away, there are so many new and more concise options we already own. Your phone also doubles as an alarm clock, digital camera, calendar, flashlight, landline, address book, iPod, calculator, radio, planner, and countless other unused items laying around your house. Fill up your "Donate" box, and take advantage of everything technology can do.
4. Does this bring me joy?*
This question was rightfully made famous by Marie Kondo’s famous book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.It's a simple question, so don't over-complicate it. I didn't ask could it bring you joy or will it. I asked doesit. It the object you hold does not add value to your life, why is it in your life? Let the "Donate" or "Trash" box have it.
*The obvious holes in this question will be filled with the next one.
5. Have I used this in the past six months?
This keeps the joy-bringing question in check. Your toothbrush or running shoes may not bring you joy, but you use them frequently. It’s best to keep them around. On the other hand, if you have a sweater that you got as a birthday present three years ago that has been out of your closet twice, it’s time to drop it in the "Donate" bin.
6. Am I going to take this to college or to my first apartment/house?
This is a question I find myself asking a lot. I only have one more semester before I pack up for college, so I've found cleaning much easier. Just be honest with yourself. Don't be afraid to be blunt or even brutal. If you wouldn't be caught on a college campus wearing that shirt, just get rid of it now. Your future self will have one less thing on his or her plate. I cleared some shelves of some books I knew I'd never read again. I brought them to my local used bookstore for store credit instead of shoving them back on my bookshelf. My shelves are tidier, and I got a few new books with my credit. Win-win.
If you’re really having trouble letting something or things go, but it in a bag in the bottom of your closet. Set a reminder on your phone to go look in the bag in one week. If, after that week is up, you haven’t needed it or even thought about it, you should just get rid of it. Donate it to Goodwill, re-gift during the holiday season, or just throw it out. You'll thank yourself later and will enjoy the extra space to wrap your gifts and set up your holiday card, which will, of course, be tidied up once again at the end of the season.