How to Get Rid of Items You Don’t Actually Need

Think you can't let go of items around your home? Think again!

Amanda Thomas
6-minute read
Episode #199

Decluttering and getting rid of unneeded items can be a very freeing process. Opening up physical space often helps open up mental space, giving us a feeling of clarity that is difficult to experience when there’s clutter. But what happens when you feel like you can’t get rid of anything? How do you start to figure out what you don’t need when it feels like you can’t let go of your stuff?

Let me start by telling you that it’s completely normal to feel like each and every item in your home is needed. Even though estimates by professional organizers are that people only use 25-30% of the items in their homes on a regular basis, most people feel like they need to hold on to items for various reasons. Often times these reasons include a lot of “mights”: we might use them one day, we might fit into them again, we might need it, or someone might want it to be passed down to them.

For all the reasons there are to keep things we aren’t using, there are just as many reasons to get rid of them. For starters, these items are taking up physical space that you could use for items you really need. These unused items often cause us guilt when we look at them—sometimes for the simple fact that we aren’t using them, but other times because we feel we aren’t “good enough” to use them as is the case with holding on to clothes that no longer fit us. Another reason to get rid of the items is because the cost to purchase the item again (if you ever need to use it) is a very low price compared with the amount of stress it causes and space it takes up.

If you’re ready to start tackling your clutter, I have a few tricks that I’ve learned can help people learn to let go of items, even when they think they can’t. Some will cost a little money, but most of them are things you can do to simply change your mindset to one that’s ready to let go.

Ask a Professional

The first trick I’ll start with is one that likely comes with a bit of a price tag, and that’s to ask a professional for their opinion. Whether it’s hiring a professional organizer to come in and help you identify the best areas to start with your decluttering, or it’s consulting with your tax professional to determine which pieces of paperwork you really do need to keep, getting guidance from a professional can help you determine the steps you can start taking to get rid of items in your home. This investment can often help clear out a number of the “what if” and “might need” excuses that pop into our heads when beginning the steps of clearing out clutter.

Take Inventory

About a year ago, I reorganized the kitchen in our house. When I started, I thought that I absolutely needed to keep everything in our drawers and cupboards, but as I dug a little deeper, I realized that we had two, sometimes even three or four, of many items. By going through each and every drawer and cupboard and pulling items out, I was able to take inventory to figure out how many of each item we had, and I was able to get rid of about a quarter of the items we owned.

When you put a little time into figuring out where the duplicates are in your home, it becomes much easier to pick your favorites and get rid of the rest.

Look for Minimalist Inspiration

Recently I saw an article talking about a “Capsule Wardrobe.” This concept included about 25 items that could be mixed and matched into a number of outfits. The concept has been around for about 40 years, and has even been used by Donna Karan. It claims that you could literally only have about 25 items in your closet and still have a very fashionable wardrobe. Now, clearing all but 25 items out of my closet was a bit extreme for me, but I did find inspiration in the idea.. By focusing my attention on making sure the majority of the items in my closet would mix and match with other items (ie, each shirt could be worn with at least three different bottoms and vise versa), I was able to more easily donate the items that could only be worn one way. It helped give me versatility to my wardrobe, as well as removed unnecessary items that continually distracted me in the morning.

You can use this method by searching out tips for minimalist decorating and organizing. Research a few ideas, and then pick and choose the aspects that you think could work for you. Remember, you don’t need to use every idea presented by an “expert,” just the ones that you think could actually help you in your home.