The Top 6 Excuses for Clutter
Why people can’t let go of stuff and how to outwit those hoarding instincts.
Solution: People feel a responsibility to be good stewards of things, says Randy Frost, a professor of psychology at Smith College, in Northampton, Massachusetts, and a coauthor of Buried in Treasures ($17, amazon.com). Especially items they’ve been given by or inherited from a loved one. Getting rid of a present feels like disrespecting the giver. But remember the true meaning of gifts.
“When you receive a present,” says Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, an interior designer in New York City and the founder of ApartmentTherapy.com, “your duty is to receive it and thank the giver―not to keep the gift forever.” That goes for items you inherit. “Ask yourself, ‘How many things do I really need to honor this person’s memory?’” says Frost. Select a few objects with strong associations to your late grandmother, say, and keep them in places where you’ll see them. Let the rest go to people who want them more than you do. Likewise, don’t be shy about admitting a mistake you made and moving on. The $120 pair of heels you bought last spring that pinch? Cut yourself some slack and give them away.