If you are truly serious about uncluttering, here’s a good place to start: Stand in the doorway of your living room or family room; the room where people congregate most often. Survey the scene. There are a few different layers of “stuff” to make decisions about.
Stuff you know you absolutely should throw away, but you just haven’t gotten around to it yet. My example is the bag containing pamphlets from about six different business schools that was sitting in the living room recently. Papers can be filed until a decision is made; the bag is just trash (or recycling, in this instance). The pile of newspapers that always seems to grow before we actually get around to dumping them in “the blue box” is another perfect example.
Things you keep around because they make you smile. Family photos, CD’s, books, maybe some knick-knacks may qualify. How many goo-gahs do you really need, though; keeping in mind that each item is one more thing to move as you clean?
Things you use frequently, that serve a definite purpose and meet a need. This list would include things like pots and pans, dishes, toiletries, clothing, etc. While these are things we absolutely need some of, this can be a great area to cull and really see a difference.
Things you keep around because they remind you of a special time in your life, or a special person. (Not to be confused with “too” stuff.) Notes from friends, cards, Grandma’s quilts, grandpa’s handmade cradle, etc.
Things you keep only “because it was grandma’s,” which you never use—are maybe even afraid to touch—because you fear ruining it or you’re keeping it “for a special occasion” (which never arrives). Or, my personal favorite, “too” expensive: “That cost a lot of money!! It’s worth something!” China, crystal, silver, tablecloths, quilts, could all fall in this category. (I’m posting separately tomorrow on one of my examples of “too” stuff….”too” much to pile on here.)
If you are truly overwhelmed by “stuff,” steer toward the easy stuff when you first start to clean out. Decisions about ketchup packets and fast food napkins are a hundred times easier to make than decisions about your grandmother’s silver. Start small…just start.