Let’s face it, a trophy for participation is fairly meaningless unless health or other issues meant that just showing up was a challenge. Is an award or trophy meaningful or is it just a way of showing how you spend your time? Would a photo of the trophy (or you receiving it) be just as or more telling about your experiences?
If you are contending with someone else’s trophies, consider if they could condense them to a single shelf or shelving unit. Asking that your spouse keep their bowling or softball trophies in their office or another personal space instead of a space used by everyone in the house.
Hi, my name is Susan and I have a dress-up squirrel magnet set on my refrigerator. And, yes, I regularly dress up the squirrel as a cowboy-samurai or a hippy-leprechaun. My husband has a rather vast assortment of Three Stooges magnets strewn across the fridge. Oh, and there are many souvenir magnets from places we have visited.
I’d rather have a blank refrigerator door, but the hubby thinks that that much white space would be, well, too much white space.
Are there some refrigerator magnets that you could do without? Could you clean off the refrigerator door? Is it already magnet-free (I’m jealous.)
If you regularly receive flower deliveries, then you may have many extra vases; but, because you always receive a new vase with each bouquet, you don’t really need to hold onto all those extra vases.
If you feel like you should hold onto the vases, try keeping one each short, medium, and tall and you’ll be prepared for some spontaneous flower arranging.
Of course, if you frequently buy a bunch of flowers from the flower shop or grocery store, then you already know what size vase(s) you use and need.
If you rarely or never buy or receive a bouquet that doesn’t come with its own vase, you might decide that you don’t need to hold onto any vases. If you receive flowers and you don’t have a vase for them, you can always be creative and set the blooms in drinking glasses, jars, a pitcher, or a ceramic bowl.
Only if this doesn’t apply to you: Eliminate a snack that you are eating only because you are bored, or you need a break.
Take a walk through your garden and notice any embellishments that are damaged, rusted, faded, or otherwise looking shabby.
If the item has become a distraction instead of an ornamentation, it may be time to release it. Also, do you have some items that you don’t have displayed? (Perhaps they are tucked into the corner of your shed.) If you feel the item(s) don’t help accentuate your garden or yard, or you no longer like them, you aren’t obligated to hold onto them.
If this task doesn’t apply to you: get rid of something you don’t like.
Yes, this task has shown up before, but chances are you have more things around your house you that you don’t like.
This item could be an objectionable knickknack or an as-seen-on-TV gadget that didn’t live up to its claims. Maybe it’s a sweater in a color not seen in nature (that looked completely different in the store) or a trendy accessory that looks out of place when you wear it.
(Okay, so the weird way my brain works – 144 is a dozen dozen, also called a gross. Gross is also slang for something objectionable. Hence, today’s task.)
You may have received a gift basket, used the contents, and stored the basket for future use. Maybe you bought a basket for a particular decorative use. Baskets are bulky (and if they have handles, they may not stack neatly one inside the other) but they seem so useful … so, we hold onto them.
Use your 15-minutes of decluttering time today to gather as many baskets that you can find around your house. Do you have a tangled pile in the basement or out in the garage? How many of the baskets were you using intentionally (by which I mean that you purposefully put items in the basket as opposed to using it as a catch-all)?
You can use baskets if they meet your needs. (And if you bring one into use and find it doesn’t meet your needs, then stop using that basket.) If a basket isn’t moldy or dirty beyond what a simple cleaning will take care of, you can fill a basket with muffins and bring them into work, bring an assortment of small goodies to book club or a party, turn it back into a gift basket, or donate them.
Maybe at some point that knickknack was important to you. Or, maybe someone gave you something that you’ve held onto out of a sense of obligation. Think about it, can you remember every gift you’ve ever given someone? Chances are, not. Will another person remember every gift they’ve given you? Maybe, maybe not.
Of course, you may have bought an item for yourself – a kitchen gadget, book, blouse, piece of furniture, etc. that you realize you no longer want. You don’t have to keep it just because at one point in time (sixteen years ago, six years ago, or six months ago) it seemed important or useful to own.
If you’ve attended a conference recently, you probably left with a bag of stuff screen-printed with the names of prominent vendors or your organization – tote bags, lanyards, key rings, office supplies, etc.
If the items are useful, use them … put the pen in your desk organizer, tuck the tote in with your reusable grocery bags.
Of course, conferences aren’t the only places to get this sort of stuff – when I went to the podiatrist, I received a tote bag with my walking cast (not that the air cast was supposed to stay in the tote). We still get mail from charities trying to get my deceased mother-in-law to donate … any many include a free note pad printed with the name of the charity.
If an item is useful to you, use it, otherwise it is nothing more than an advertisement, so don’t feel compelled to give the items a space in your home.
It’s tempting to purchase a little something that you can display and show the places you’ve visited. Decals, shot glasses, mugs, magnets, and other little knickknacks may get used (a pen or a tee shirt) or may collect dust.
If you have an organized collection that you enjoy displaying (a case filled with shot classes), then, that’s fine. However, if you walk around your house and find a few tourist items that you realize you don’t need to hold onto, release them.
When you visit a location in the future, consider if it is important to you to take back a tee shirt or magnet proclaiming your visit.
Most weddings (bar mitzvahs, showers) will thank guests for attending by sending them home with a mug, glass, candle, can cozies, bubbles and other small gifts.
Have you held onto the items just because you didn’t know what to do with them? Burn the candle, blow the bubbles, plant the seeds, or just toss the item. You aren’t obligated to hold onto the item if it is nothing more than clutter, something you’ve pushed aside.
You don’t care any less for the individual or couple by releasing things you don’t need.
Only if this doesn’t apply to you: unsubscribe to a shopping website’s emails.
Susan Caplan McCarthy
I'm Susan, a writer and teacher developing a second career as a Decluttering Coach.