When I say make room for new things to come, I’m not necessarily talking of physical things. I’m referring to new experiences to come. Taking the time and making the effort to clear out, go through, or organize, actually gives you more time – freedom – in the long run. Of course, unloading the big boxes are extremely rewarding, but it’s the nitty, gritty, little things which can be postponed way beyond reason.
Emotions bubble up when we deal with deciding to toss out a card from a loved one, a photograph, or perhaps figuring what to do with grandpa’s dance card. I’m not the last word in slimming down the stuff, but after working alongside people trying to make room for new things to come, I’ve seen a couple of strategies work.
First the photos, oh my gosh, the photos…. I’m not afraid to say, you may throw out the photos, throw out the negatives. Here’s how you decide: if it’s a blurry image, unflattering, duplicate, unimportant, the backs of people – get rid of it:
I will get grief when I say toss the negatives, but scanners are excellent tools to preserve or duplicate photos. From there you can edit, so much so, that keeping the negatives doesn’t make sense. At a later date, you may go back to that shoebox of photos and actually put them in albums. Or, better yet, scan them and electronically preserve them. See how I can change the “unflattering” image above:
Then the greeting cards. How big is your stack? How many piles do you have?
My quick-rule here is to toss the ones which only say, “Love, so-and-so“.
Want to take a closer look at the ones that actually say something?… if they’re talking about the weather, I’d say toss it. If they speak of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, hang on to it – at least, for this round. You can re-visit it later, and maybe part ways another day.
The ephemera which was treasured by your family can be trickier. You want to respect it, but is it honorable to have it in a dark box tucked in a corner? Here again, I don’t believe you need to keep all of it. Select your key pieces, commit to putting it in a scrapbook, or take the plunge of honoring the items and put it on display like my brother has done here:
I try to live by words my mom shared early on, “Keep the love, get rid of the thing.” And, before you fill up that space with other stuff, think about it. Every item you own takes time out of your life: time to manage it, clean it, repair it,
and maintain it. Not to mention the time spent earning the money to pay for it. Decide to sacrifice less of your precious life on the pursuit and ownership of stuff, choose to experience life and welcome it in to your wide open spaces.
So tell me, what small-things-stack will you tackle this week?