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De-cluttering for the New Year Can Feel So Good

Sean Gallup,Getty Images

I have a secret. I am a recovering ‘junk-a-holic.’  I have spent the first part of my adult life trying to organize and hold on to my stuff. I was like an organized hoarder. I had boxes and boxes of stuff. I call it stuff, because I could not tell you what was in those boxes. So every year, around Christmas and New Year I try to do a little de-cluttering.

I have had to deal with my desires to keep all these things with some sort of memory or sentimental attachment, photos, magazines, the ‘important papers,’ books, DVDs, CDs, electronics, the clothes I may wear ‘someday’ and the list went on and on.  If you are smiling right now, you know exactly what I am talking about.

Over the years as I have worked to organize and rearrange my stuff, I came to one big conclusion. It is easier to just make stuff go away.  It all started with a little story in a magazine. It was about this woman who lost everything in a fire.  She explained in the story about how this tragedy was, in the long run, really a blessing. She and her loved ones were fine; it was the stuff that was gone.  There were no choices to make. She had a clean slate on her stuff.

As she and her family put their lives back together and had to get new stuff, she was very aware of the stuff she chose to put back in her life and the life of her family.  The things she had around her were for important reasons.  Of course you have to replace the stuff you use, but that was one of the keys for this family. They realized how much of the stuff they had they did not use.  It was just ‘the stuff.’

If you make the choice to go all out and tackle the clutter in a big way, just remember to take it one smaller project at a time. Maybe spend a snowy afternoon cleaning out your old magazines. You can recycle them or pass them along to someone else to look over.

Once you get into it, it feels SO good to clean stuff out. There is no way that works for everyone. So I will not tell you how you must do it. For this, you need to find what works best for you. You can find tons of ideas online. For me, I ask the question “If I lost this in a house fire, would I miss it?”  “Would I replace it?”  If I answer yes, well then, that is an important item. If not, then I have to consider where it really fits into my life.

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