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Gadgets & Home Improvement

Why are you keeping it?

Tips to a compulsive hoarder for a clean and tidy home
CATS Classified In The Straits Times - January 10, 2011
By: Adele Ong
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Why are you keeping it?

The hardest part about decluttering is deciding what to do with the things you come across as you clean, tidy and sort out all the stuff.

We’ve watched reality television programmes and read magazine articles where people are advised to label three empty bins or boxes as “Keep”, “Give Away” or “Throw Out”. While that works nicely for the ruthless and disciplined (who never have clutter problems anyway), I have found from experience that hoarders, the sentimental, and the soft-hearted will end up putting just about every item into the “Keep” bin, or stealthily move stuff from the “Throw Out” box back into the “Keep” box when no one is looking.

What may help in such cases is to look at each item you instinctively want to put into the “Keep” pile and ask yourself: Why do I want to keep this? If your answer is something along the lines of: “I am keeping this because it is truly useful, and I use it at least once a week, every week”; “Because my grandmother left it to me”; “Because it is valuable and will grow in value over the years”, that makes some sense.

But if your answer is: “I am keeping this because it may come in useful someday”; or “It reminds me of the most recent movie I watched”, that isn’t so good. Things kept because they may come in useful “someday” usually rust where they are forever. Things retained because they remind you of not-very-significant occasions should either be thrown out (because you have your memories in your head), or artistically pasted, displayed or stored in a proper scrapbook album or keepsake box, instead of adding to the pile of unsorted clutter.

A great part of the battle is won if you can actually sort the things in each messy room into strict categories – such as “tools”, “learning material”, “hobby items”, “clothes”, “accessories”, “pure sentiment”, “financial documents” and so on. Sometimes, when you see all that you’ve accumulated in one category alone, you may realise that you need a lot less of it than you originally believed you did.


Can you give it away?