10 Ways to Let Go of Your Stuff

Erin Rooney Doland, a reformed hoarder, offers her best cures for clutter.

Messy closetFrances Janisch
1. Tear down the museum. In my youth, I was fearless. I forged strong friendships and created a history for myself that seemed worth remembering. So I held on to every trinket from my past. But I kept so many of these historical artifacts (see Hair, Matt's) that I didn't have any room for the present. I wanted to throw parties and have friends to visit in a home where they could actually sit down. So I photographed those hold things, then cleared them out to make space for the next chapters of my life.

2. Assess true value. A hefty chuck of what I moved into our home was obsolete computer equipment. When I looked at it, I saw dollar signs. Then my economist friend, Stephen, reminded me of the fallacy of sunk costs. I was sizing up those old computers based on what I had spent rather than their present value: close to zero. I sold the lot to a used-electronics store for $60 (not bad, considering) and got a much needed haircut with the cash.

3. Know thyself. I liked to think of myself as someone who exercised every day by running on a giant motorized treadmill, read all the literary classics, and baked cookies for every special occasion. The reality? I am not a runner, I like to read pop fiction, and cookies aren't really my thing. The treadmill, the boxes of books, and some kitchen gadgets all found new homes.

4. Trust me: You won't fix it. Most of the broken things I had brought with me were shoes. Heels or straps had come off, and I was convinced I would someday have them repaired. My husband held the shoes up in front of me, pair by pair, and asked two questions: "If you saw these shoes in a store today, would you buy them?" and "If you say yes, how much would you pay for them?" In all but one case, I admitted that I wouldn't buy the shoes again. And those red kitten heels with the broken sole? The amount I was wiling to pay was less than the cost of having them fixed.

5. Do look a gift horse in the mouth. My decorating tastes may change over time, but I am fairly certain I will never enjoy a home filled with a series of rhinestone-accented paintings of scary clowns. Yet I had hoarded these and other unattractive presents because I thought that was the decent thing to do. I also wasn't sure what I would say if someone noticed his gift missing and asked why. Well, you know what? No one has. Not even the bestower of scary clowns.
 
Read More About:Inspiration & Motivation

Related Content

Books and baking soda

How to Get a Musty Smell Out of Books

Does your secondhand score have that old-book smell? Here’s how to get it out.

What do you think about this article? Share your own solutions and ideas

View Earlier Comments
Advertisement

Quick Tip

Illustration of suitcases

Packing for a family vacation? Travel versions of favorite games won’t crowd suitcases, and playing them will keep kids from begging to watch TV at night. Get more tips.