Thursday, February 28, 2013

How priorities can help us get de-cluttered

Sometimes it is hard to make a decision to de-clutter because we forget about how things fit into the big picture.  For instance, when you have a box of Christmas cards that you are agonizing over, it is hard to imagine letting go of any of them.

 This is when it is helpful to look at a list of priorities and see where that stuff fits into the big picture of your possessions.

Things that are physically necessary
Transportation—cars, kids’ bikes (if bike to school)
Coats, hats, gloves, boots, and other outerwear (put in front hall closet)
Laundry supplies
Toiletries (put in or near the bathroom)
Cleaning supplies  (commonly under kitchen sink or on a shelf over washer and dryer)

Things that are emotionally necessary
Photo albums

Things needed to accomplish common living tasks and for learning important skills
Cooking equipment
Office supplies (put in or near desk)
Car tools (in garage)
Home tools
Gardening tools
Craft supplies
Electronic and computer supplies (put near computer)
Musical instruments and music 

Things that are more for fun
Makeup supplies
Books, videos, and recorded music, video games
Outdoor play equipment
Toys  (Kids may see these as necessary)
Board games
Camping equipment
Decorations—knickknacks, pictures, sculpture
Holiday and seasonal decorations
Additional memorabilia

Perhaps you noticed that the three lists above are grouped according to
1.     things that are pretty necessary
2.     things that are needed to accomplish common living tasks and for learning important skills
3.     things that are more for fun. 
Perhaps your priority lists would have certain things on them that mine don't.  Maybe you would consider musical instruments and music to be more fun than part of learning an important skill.  That's okay.  But it is important for you to know what belongs on YOUR lists based upon your skills and interests. 

Things on the fourth list (the fun stuff) are the things that tend to cause the most clutter in our lives.  You have to keep an eye on these things because they can and will easily grow beyond the limits of your space. Whenever you need to de-clutter, it never hurts to start by examining the things on that list first.   (You can also de-clutter things on the third list if you look for where you have a surplus that you can't use up easily or that you aren't interested in using.  For instance, I might de-clutter music for my musical instruments by looking through to find music that I like least of all or that I never play.)

This post started with the question of saving Christmas cards.  Christmas cards would fall into the category of extra memorabilia and memorabilia is not absolutely necessary.  It’s nice, but not as important as, say, our journals and photo albums.

Looking at where Christmas cards might fall on a priority list helps us remember how important those cards are with respect to everything else we own and reminds us that we have to be picky about what memory items we keep, otherwise it can take over.

Extra Credit Exercise:
In the following list, where would you place these items in the priority lists above?
  • A pair of earplugs
  • A set of scriptures
  • A frizbee
  • Cake-decorating equipment
  • A hoodie with your favorite sports team logo on it (it still fits you)
  • A book from your childhood
  • Five Precious Moments figurines
  • A screwdriver
  • Your  graduation cap from your high school graduation
  • A package of ramen
Related post: 

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