Last updated: March 31. 2014 10:20AM - 1712 Views
Christy Stickland

Christy Strickland Contributing columnist
Christy Strickland Contributing columnist
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Stuff. Most of us have it.

In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that I have more than my share — tools, toys, collections, files, papers, tech gadgets, appliances and more. What do we do with it all? We keep it, try to organize it, store it, or sometimes just let it pile up. Regardless, taking care of the stuff or even ignoring it requires money, time and energy.

All of this stuff often adds stress to our lives. Organizing and cleaning will make a big difference, but sometimes we fix a space only to have it fill up again. In order to get rid of things and to truly get rid of the clutter habit, it is helpful to understand why we keep what we do and how to deal with this cycle. Let’s look at some areas that may cause some problems.

Gifts are often difficult to part with because we feel like we should keep them out of obligation or respect, even if we don’t like the item. Ask yourself, does this bring me happiness or truly serve a purpose? If not, find someone else who would really like it, or donate or sell it.

What if we spent money on something and want to get our money’s worth, even if we don’t like it? Holding on to the item because of past costs already incurred is not helpful. Look at the other costs involved — what is that item costing you by keeping it? What happens every day when you see the item? How much time do you spend thinking about how much you don’t like it? You spend energy and time that takes away from other experiences. Is the frustration really worth it?

Then there are the things we save for when we are older or retire. We’re trying to capture and save memories to relive them at some later point. What is missing in the here and now by putting so much energy into our stuff? Think about future moments. Won’t we always want to live in the moment and keep on having new moments, instead of looking back through boxes?

My personal favorite excuse is “I might need this one day.” We hear messages daily to reuse or recycle items and to be less wasteful. We might be saving items for a future need, but we don’t really know what we will need.

These are some strategies for dealing with stuff that I am finding helpful:

— Set a limit for what you can keep and focus on using what you have, not buying more.

— Remind yourself that if you do need something in the future, you can figure it out. You do not have to keep everything.

— Ask yourself “Can I live without this,” and “If this thing were destroyed, would I replace it?” If the answer is no, then you do not need to keep it. These points are a starting place for dealing with stuff.

For information, please contact me by phone at 671-3276, or by email at Christy_Strickland@ncsu.edu.

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