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One of my mottoes is:
Have what you love; use what you have.
Anything that doesn’t serve you, doesn’t earn a place in your life.
But an obstacle to decluttering that many people face is deciding what to do with the stuff they get rid of.
Unfortunately, this dilemma can be so confusing that some people get completely immobilized – they end up unable to part with their stuff because they can’t decide where it should go.
Don’t let confusion stop you from releasing unloved, unused things from your home and your life.
Instead, use this guide.
1. When To Sell Your Clutter
If it’s worth good money, you should sell it, right?
Well, not necessarily.
When you’re decluttering, only allocate something to the ‘Sell’ pile if:
1. It’s worth more than it would cost to organize the sale (list online, hold a garage sale, etc), and
2. You can be bothered to do the work to organize the sale.
The second point is crucial. If you know you’re unlikely to ever get around to doing what’s needed to sell your items, then save yourself time and guilt and don’t tell yourself you’ll sell.
If you’re looking for ways to make cash, then that’s a different matter. But if your top priority is to declutter your home and your life, then don’t create unnecessary hurdles. Skip the ‘Sell’ pile.
2. When To Donate Your Clutter
You should donate everything you can, shouldn’t you?
Again, not so simple.
Everyone has their own sense of what’s donate-able. I have a pretty high threshold for donation and will only give stuff to charity that:
- Looks appealing – nothing tatty, rusty, etc
- Is in working condition – nothing in need of repair
- Is decent quality – nothing that’s basically junk.
I figure that donating questionable stuff only makes more work for the charity, so I toss anything that doesn’t meet these criteria.
You may be more or less strict with your standards. But if in doubt, throw it out!
Only allocate something to the ‘Donate’ pile if:
- It’s in good condition and/or
- It’s sell-worthy, but you can’t be bothered to sell it.
3. When To Throw Away Your Clutter
If you’re a seasoned declutterer, then by all means sell or donate your heart out. And if it doesn’t meet selling or donating standards, then toss it.
But what if you simply can’t decide?
If you’re fighting years of hoarding, or deep-seated procrastination, or a profound sense of overwhelm, then don’t let indecision about what to sell or donate stop you from clearing the clutter.
Instead, simply put everything into a bag and let it go.
Yes you’re wasting it, but having it in your home when you don’t love or use it is wasting it too, and it’s also costing you stress and clutter and quite possibly happiness.
Now let me be clear: I’m not suggesting you throw stuff away out of laziness or disregard for landfills, or cluelessness about poverty. If you can navigate these issues then I think you should.
But if you’re in such a state that you need to start somewhere very simple (and many people are; we all get overwhelmed sometimes), then I think it’s okay to start where you are and do what you can.
Once you begin the decluttering habit, you’ll gain confidence and can donate many future bags to worthy causes. But until you make a start, your stuff isn’t doing anyone any good.
Declutter Clinic Summary
To sum up:
Sell it if:
- It’s worth more than the cost of selling and
- You’re motivated enough to organize the sale.
Donate it if:
- It’s in good condition and
- The question of donating versing tossing won’t immobilize you.
For everything else, throw it away!
And enjoy the time, space, and mental clarity you’ll gain.
Note: This article originally appeared in my Get Organized Newsletter. It has updated in September 2017 with the video.