Declutter · Uncategorized

How to let go — when you’re a maximalist.

How to know what to ditch?

Here’s a list of the questions I will ask myself when I am trying to get rid of an item:

  1. If this were at the store, would I buy it again?
  2. If this were at the thrift store, would I purchase it?
  3. If my apartment were to flood and I lost everything — what’s the first emotion I would feel knowing this item is gone? (You’d be surprised how often the feeling is relief or just wouldn’t care!)
  4. If someone gave me $10 for it, could I part with it? (Sometimes I just “pay myself” to let go at that point because the reality is that I’m keeping it because it’s a “sunk cost”)
  5. If I could get a refund for the item, would I?
  6. If I knew someone else would enjoy it, could I let it go?
See my pile of things to part with… Now, getting them actually out of the house…

Essentially these questions will lead me to understand that I don’t actually “want” the item anymore. I find that I am holding onto it for a million other reasons. Being a maximalist, means you love having stuff around and you enjoy a busy, eclectic look! That does NOT mean that you hoard things you don’t use or keep things that don’t bring you any joy. (Marie Kondo, anyone?) If you’re reading this, you’re probably like me and you also struggle with how to let go of your items.

The other most important part of the equation is that once you’ve decided to let go of something – it’s important to do it quickly. I’ve found all too often that I will go back through a bin I’ve already sorted and pull something out. Rarely to any benefit is that being done. In general, I still never use the thing and I would have been better off sending it off to a new home.

Where should I donate my items?

  1. Join your local Buy Nothing Group
    • If you have a lot things, I would recommend a “Free Sale” day. This is much like a yard sale, but instead of getting any money back — you simply give everything away. Even better if you can get a few neighbors involved and you can host together. The down side of this is you might spot a few things your neighbors bring over and that can leave you feeling like you brought some things back in the house!
From when we hosted a Buy Nothing Free Sale!
  1. Goodwill, Charity Store
    • Sometimes the best, and easiest thing is just to take it to your local donation center. There can be anxiety about what will happen to the items (such as, will they end up in a landfill?) but, the reality is that your home is not a landfill so you cannot keep things in your house as a placeholder for them going into the trash if that’s where they belong.
  2. Facebook Marketplace
    • For me, I know that selling every little item is going to be more of a headache than a benefit. I know that my personal “hourly rate” for what I believe my time is worth far exceeds what I might get from selling any items. However – sometimes I will take my most valuable items and decide, if I can get a certain amount for them – then that will give me permission to take nothing for the rest of the items I am ditching.
    • Note that you can list multipe things at once. Call it a moving sale & list multipe items with a Google doc or spreadsheet so that you can keep it updated on what’s sold or available and you can get more views on your items. List it at the lowest value item you have – $5 etc.
The closest charity shop to me — Community Thrift in San Francisco, CA
  1. Yard Sale
    • I think this one is mostly a mistake. I recently held a yard sale with my grandmother’s belongings and even though we made a few hundred dollars, the amount of time/resources/energy/effort that it took, really truly wasn’t worth it. I like the idea that the items went to good homes and we got a little something back – but I think for most people – if you think about your goals you could easily work towards what would make you happy without spending a weekend stressing over whether to charge $1 or $2 for your old mug.

Final Thoughts

Something else that helps me is seeing the value that the piece already got me. For example, if I used the piece – then I got what I paid for. If I didn’t use it very much, perhaps the lesson is in realizing that I don’t need more of that item. If I never used it, perhaps the value is in the joy I got from purchasing and it’s OK to let it go now that I’m not using it. The value also might be in gifting it forward to someone else who couldn’t have purchased it at full retail. Just don’t let the desire to keep something that you’re not using trick you into thinking that’s adding value to your life.

If you have any other helpful tricks, be sure to leave them below. It always helps me to hear what other people are having success with!




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s