set of allen wrenches

How to decide what to declutter

Loyalty’s a fine thing, but taken to extremes it can create problems. If you feel the sort of allegiance to your stuff that usually comes with a marriage license, it can be hard to even think about letting something go.

But just because you’ve had something for a while, it doesn’t automatically get grandfathered in. You can reevaluate your stuff at any time, and although you may not feel like doing that on a routine basis, there’s going to come a time when you must.

You’ll move or you’ll be moved.

Wouldn’t you rather get to choose what you have with you when that happens?

I get it, decisions are agonizing. What if you make the wrong one? It’s enough to keep you living a way you don’t love just because another way might be worse.

What if everything went right?

Boulder therapist Sonja Hellman has a neat question to consider when the fear of making the wrong decision hits: What is everything went right?

Instead of considering the worst, planning in case the worst happens and acting as if the worst is surely going to happen, try that one for for size.

READ MORE >>> Therapy can be the missing piece

Of course, we’re here because our cautious ancestors looked ahead and tried to plan for the worst. But holding onto everything because you might need it, because someone else might need it, because the worst is going to happen, is no way to live your life. A scarcity mindset is the cause of many a clutter-filled home.

How easily could these be replaced?

Before you hesitate to let something go, ask yourself how easily it could be replaced if, God forbid, you donated it and then found you needed it after all.

Jason spent fifteen minutes, arguing the pros and cons of keeping a set of allen wrenches. They were perhaps too small for every day use but there would surely come a time when they could be useful.

Yes, they could. But to be useful, they had to be somewhere other than buried in a box deep in the heart of his garage.

Trying to shake himself free of the desire to add this set to his collection, Jason asked himself two crucial questions.

#1: How easily could these be replaced?

Allen wrenches are easy to come by. Every hardware store has them, they’re easy to get online, the world is full of allen wrenches.

#2: How much would it cost to replace these beauties?

Allen wrenches are an inexpensive tool.

If it costs hundreds of dollars to replace something, you might give it more thought but if it’s a few dollars, trust the universe that you’ll be able to replace this thing if needed.

What about hidden costs?

To save $11 on a set of allen wrenches seems frugal and smart, but Jason was paying me to help him work through decisions about his things. Spending fifteen minutes deciding about the wrenches had already cost him more than replacing them would.

How to decide: The Joyful Method

Step 1

We’d prepared the space by making sure we had trash bags and sorting boxes where we were working.

Step 2

We’d calmed down Jason’s brain by reminding him decluttering is a process, not an event. He didn’t have to clear out his whole garage in one afternoon. He was just deciding about one thing, these allen wrenches.

Step 3

Now it was time for step three, sorting into broad categories. We gathered all the sets of allen wrenches together and spread them out on the bench in his garage. Seeing what he had all in one place reassured him. He could see for himself that he was rich in allen wrench sets.

Step 4

Step 4 meant looking at his collection and seeing what was what. Incomplete sets or rusted sets were easy for Jason to let go of, and we set those aside. We sorted the rest of the wrenches by size and then assessed how many of each size he was comfortable having.

He selected two from each size and then let the rest go.

“Someone else might need these,” he said.

He didn’t have to know the name, rank and serial number of the person they would help, and neither do you. Trust that the right person will find them and move on to the next decision.

READ MORE >>> Best places to donate

Step 5

After whittling it down, step 5, organize, was easy. Jason thought about where he would most naturally look for allen wrenches and realized they didn’t belong in the garage after all. The only time he would use them would be to tighten a bolt or screw on a chair leg or put together something from IKEA.

He moved them to the drawer in his kitchen where he kept every day tools like a mini screwdriver to tighten the handle on his frying pan, and the allen wrenches were easy to find the next time he had to assemble a piece of furniture.

READ MORE >>> The Joyful Method: How to declutter and organize

by Lucy Kelly


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