I have not met a single person who has a handle on the STUFF of LIFE. All of us deal with clutter in our lives whether it’s physical clutter or those other insidious forms, such as digital and mental clutter.
While clearing out my parents’ home, I came face to face with their accumulated possessions. Forty-five (45) years of saying yes to offers of free stuff and having spare parts for everything.
Clearing the clutter in my childhood home would require three large dumpsters, each bigger than a New York City apartment! The challenge was to clear out my father’s home while my husband and I cared for him after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
TIP 1: Help your parents start defining the clutter in their lives.
I learned to say NO more often than my parents did.
After clearing out my parents’ home, I learned to say NO, thank you, more often… even for FREE STUFF!
People often react uncomfortably while I ponder whether to accept what they’re offering. (See the three questions below that I ask myself.)
Once we own something, we place greater value on it and it’s harder to let go.
I discovered if I pause and think first and say, No, thank you, often enough, I’ll have less of a struggle letting go. This is a practice to build discipline with whatever I’m offered.
Sometimes, it’s saying NO to even the smallest item.
Have you ever met someone at a conference who insists on giving you a business card?
Do you accept it to be polite? What do you do with it?
If I want to follow-up with someone I meet at a conference, I will ask for a card.
I learned that I did nothing with all those cards I “collected,” over the years, yet I had difficulty letting go.
What if I want to contact __________? After twenty years? let’s get serious!
Most of these folks either changed jobs or retired. Some were no longer alive!
When I mention this to people, they give me that look and say, “Brenda, take it! It’s just a card!”
Actually, it isn’t. It’s the first step we take in managing our own clutter. Whether it’s a business card or anything else, if you blindly accept it, then what?
You bring it home. Where will you put it? Where will you put the next thing? And the next?
If you keep saying, Yes, as my mother did, your heirs will be clearing out decades of your clutter. Is that fair to them?
TIP 2: Say No, thank you, more often.
There’s more to this.
The three questions I ask myself each time someone offers me something:
- What will I do with it?
- Where will I put it?
- How much time and energy will it take?
I invite you to help your loved ones define the clutter in their own lives. Otherwise, you may inherit an overwhelming task at the most inopportune time. The photo above was one of the rooms in the basement of my parents’ home.
How do YOU manage the STUFF of Life?
When the STUFF of Life takes hold and it’s too hard for you or loved ones to let go, get help with STUFFology 101: Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter. This is one gift that will help you and those you love to let go of the clutter.
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