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Decluttering Tips from a Pro

Decluttering Tips of a Pro

Moving to a new town and into a new home is exciting. They say it is one of the most stressful times in a person’s life. I agree, but there is also a sense of adventure and inquiry.

Since my husband and I found our new home in Central California, we have been busily preparing to move. To say that it is testing our stress levels is an understatement; however, we both know what is waiting for us on the other side. Peace and quiet. Aaaaaah!

As I go through all my “stuff,” I remember something that I learned awhile back from Peter Walsh, a professional organizer. He says that there are three main categories for our “stuff.”  They include memory items, I-might-need-it items, and trash/recycling.

Decluttering Tips from a Pro

Decluttering “I-might-need-it” Items:

Many of us (eh-hem, me, okay, me) are bad with the “I-might-need-it items. Often we need to realize that many of these things either expire (i.e., coconut flour) or become unusable (i.e., old batteries). I think this mentality is a carry-over from our parents who were probably depression babies. My mom learned it from her mom (my grandmother) who saved everything.

For this move, I am making a conscious effort to purge these items because the reality is I will probably never need them, and if I do I can procure them when the time is right.

Decluttering Trash/Recycling:

Trash/Recycling is an easy thing to get rid of, but it might take some doing to find what fits into this category. If you are a writer like me, it probably involves paper. And lots of it. I cannot even begin to tell you how much paper I have recycled and shredded on this journey. I’m sorry trees. I promise to be more conscious going forward. Other items that might fit into this category are food storage containers with a missing lid, a sock missing its pair, a shirt you wore in college and will never fit into again in this lifetime. You get the idea. They have no use, and when downsizing, you can quickly purge them – even the paper.

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Decluttering Memory Items:

Now memory items are the tricky category. We are attached to these things because they trigger memories and emotions. Being connected to the memories makes this category a doozy when it comes to letting go. There are four sub-categories here. They include:

  1. Treasures –  These are irreplaceable things that you cannot buy again for any price. For instance, one of my treasures is a Christmas stocking knitted by my mom. Your treasures are items that you proudly display, enjoy and they bring you joy. This category makes up about 5% of your belongs.
  2. Trinkets These are things you have collected over the years. They might be from vacations or visits with family members. In my case, they were all the handouts and trinkets from the vendors at my previous employer’s annual health fair. How many eyeglass repair kits does one need? Other trinket examples for me are the magnets collected from different cities and states that I have visited.T
  3. Forgotten -I bet you have some of these. They are items that have been in your home forever. They might be flowers you pressed under a dictionary. Or a book that you found on a bus stop bench when attending college in Pennsylvania (not that I would know anything about that!). When you see these things you often wonder, “why the heck do I still have that?” You don’t use these items and many times they are hidden away in a closet or storage unit.
  4. Malignant – I try not to keep these. They are items that remind you of a bad experience or time in your life. It could be a journal of painful memories or a Dear Jane letter you received from your ex.

According to Walsh, The only items in the “memory items’ category that you want to hold on to when decluttering are those that are “treasures.” Everything else – let go. Toss, donate or recycle, whatever you need to do to let go and make more positive space in your life.

This move is an excellent opportunity for me to go through everything I own and pare down to the necessities. I still have a way to to go, and I’m sure I will move things that I shouldn’t. It’s the beginning of a new me. Once we are in the new home I think the rule will be – if I don’t unpack it within six months, it’s got to go.

Even if you aren’t planning to move your entire household soon, what can you do to start going through your belongs and reduce, reuse and remove? Doing this will create space for you to expand and flourish.

About the Author Corrie Ann

Corrie Ann Gray is a writer, researcher, coach, and cookie enthusiast who lives in Los Angeles, CA. She started the Clean Body Project to share all of her knowledge and resources with others who are interested in running their own experiment into clean holistic living. She is also known as The Renaissance Soul Writer at

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