We can’t emphasize enough starting with a small, manageable project at first. Editing the objects & mementos collected over years is exhausting, emotional work - and it’s only when you taste the freedom at the other side will you grasp the true benefit of the (often) arduous process.
Here are a few tips to simplify the process and hopefully allow you to think more objectively about the physical objects taking up space in your life.
M A K E S P A C E T O S O R T
Designate a place to work through the process of sorting - clearly labeling the bags/bins/piles with the following signs, depending on your needs: TRASH, RECYCLE, DONATE, REPAIR, SELL, GIVE BACK, etc. Really contemplate all of the places your items might be better suited for, and don’t be hesitant to add a category mid-process if you find you need to.
E V A L U A T E W I T H O B J E C T I V I T Y
As hard as it sounds, part of what makes sorting easier is evaluating objects with as much honesty as possible, and as little emotion as possible. Be real: Is the item broken? if so, can it be repaired? Is the item getting used? When was the last time you can remember it being used/enjoyed? Is it versatile? Are there other items that do the same job? Do you love it? — really try to connect with that last one. Hold it in your hands. Does it “spark joy”? Does it feel more valuable than the money that was spent on it? Do you feel proud to have it in your home among all of your favorite possessions?
In this process, be gentle with yourself, but also firm. You deserve to love the things that fill your home - whether it cost you money at some point, whether you were gifted it, whether you don’t quite know how to dispose of it, loving and using what you own are all that matters.
S E N T I M E N T A L O B J E C T S / A R T W O R K
No matter how minimalist we all aspire to be, we all collect things of sentimental value throughout our lives - it can be a beautiful way mark memories, and measure time. But not when it weighs us down. These objects are the most emotionally charged of all, largely because they’re irreplaceable. A helpful tip might be to contemplate is if photographing the item would achieve the same feeling for you - this can be a great solution to children’s artwork, as we’re much more likely to go back and look through a digital photo album than we are to pull out files from the basement, and your child will get more opportunities to show off their work to friends and family!
It’s important to let go of guilt here - if a family heirloom doesn’t speak to you, it’s okay. Passing it along to someone else in the family (or a stranger) who might put it to use could be the perfect solution. Just remember, letting things collect dust in your closet or basement isn’t the same as enjoying them actively - let objects have new life in a place where they can be used and loved.
F I N I S H I N G T H E T A S K
The sorting process can take a good amount of time and attention, but it’s not the end of the process. Be sure to get as much out of your home as quickly as possible is key to the success of your journey towards a less burdened life - and we can’t express how great it feels. If you plan to sell any objects, photograph them immediately and get them posted! When you’re in the zone, stay in it until you’ve accomplished your goal. We recommend getting it all done in the same day - and then taking a much deserved breather.
You’ve got this - and we’ve got you.