Well, for one thing you need to become aware of their presence and then ask a yourself a couple of uncomfortable questions. Which questions apply to what kind of item can be hard to determine, but here are some that make sense for many items listed above:
How long have you had these?
In many cases, we keep things because we suspect that we will need them later on. DIY materials are a classic for this kind of thing, e.g.: when you have just wallpapered a room, it makes perfect sense to keep the remaining rolls for patch up jobs, just in case. Over time, however, it will become less likely that you’ll ever need those rolls, and they tend to become frazzled over time because they get shifted, or they are stored in a bad place… suffice it to say, one roll will probably do where right now you keep a dozen.
Similar approaches can be imagined for plasterboard (gets damp over time) or bricks (if you have not used them within a year, will you ever?). As for long pieces of wood or planks: I understand those can be useful for many things, but once they have been sitting in your shed for a serious period of time I’d say you really have no use for them since you never actually did anything with them. Food for thought.
How expensive where these?
If you have paid a lot of money for a particular type of artwork it stands to reason that discarding these items is out of the question. Or is it? If you are not entirely sure you want to keep them, maybe it’s time to sell? At the very least it would be interesting to have them valued: I’ve seen a lot of so-called valuable items that turned out to be worth exactly the canvas and the pigments that were used, but nothing else.
It’s important to distinguish between intrinsic value and perceived value of things you have bought. That is not to say you may have been bamboozled into buying something at too high a price, but values change and what was expensive in the past may be worth nothing these days. And that is not just true for artwork, but also for white goods, furniture, books, DVDs, toys, clothing, … you name it, prices vary.
Don’t let the cost of things determine for you what you keep: make conscious choices and maybe try and sell the more expensive items. This is especially true for items you can determine as having been cheap: if you are not using them, let them go! If you really find that you need one of those in the future, just get another one: it will not only be in full working condition, but maybe of better quality and up to date to modern standards.
How useful were these?
When we review the list above, some items stand out because they may or may not be useful anymore, and that is especially true for furniture and bicycle/motorcycle, but it most certainly applies to everything else as well.
When you think of furniture, it usually is perceived as something you buy for a lifetime. And while that is certainly true for our grandparents, these days furniture is just like anything else: it is subject to fads and preferences, and what is ‘in’ this year, maybe ‘passé’ the next. Unlike our parents and grandparents, we do not buy furniture to pass on to future generations, but sadly we have often ended up the recipient of such pieces when our parents or grandparents passed away.
This type of furniture is kept against better judgment: it may not fit into the small flat, it’s discoloured and neglected, but because it’s an heirloom we are unable to let it go. Well: get over it! If a piece of furniture is useless to you, takes up too much space or is just plain ugly… let it go. Get something you like and use properly in the place and remember your grandma fondly for all the right reasons.
As for bicycles/motorcycles, you’d be surprised how many of those I come across in garages. Most of those fall under the category of ‘one day I’ll fix it, I’m sure’ and that day never came. Some of the ones I’ve seen were covered in rust, with the rubber of the wheels completely brittle and broken, but the fantasy remains: one day it’ll be fixed.
There’s a danger of being repetitive, but here it is: get over it already! If you have not gotten around to fixing it, you a) are not using it and clearly do not need it urgently, and b) you are just procrastinating making that decision and getting rid of the junk that you are left with. I don’t usually call these things junk, but THIS is junk, plain and simple.
All this being said: now go forth and discover what large items you have in your household that you have completely overlooked! Have fun.
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Hi, my name is Tilo Flache. My current mission: help my clients declutter mind and space.
This blog contains pointers for your journey towards a happier living experience.