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Decluttering master Megan Golightly shares the six reasons why we hold onto items—and the three questions to ask in order to say goodbye.
Spring cleaning gets all the glory—but heading into colder days (and multiple holidays!), it’s the perfect time to reorganize and declutter your home so that all your hosting and toasting can be done with ease.
We spoke with decluttering master Megan Golightly of GoSimplified, who focuses on more than just your average “buy more storage boxes” tips—she focuses on the psychology behind organization, which means her advice can help you stay organized for good. “It’s not always as easy as just wanting to get organized,” says Golightly. “Letting go has to happen first.”
Golightly says there are six top reasons as to why we hang onto things—and she provides the key three questions necessary for overcoming them.
Golightly says a lot of people fall into the trap of “I’d rather make no decision than the wrong decision.” We get in our own way because we don’t want to deal with the hard decision making. “It’s not about perfection, it’s about progress,” says Golightly.
“I don’t know where this is going to go and I don’t know what to do with this,” and “Keeping things just in case,” are a big reason why people hang onto items that they no longer need. Or not knowing where it is going to go or how to get rid of it. Golightly points out that there are many services that can come straight to your door to remove items for free, like givebackbox.ca.
Everyone has made a bad purchase in the past, whether it’s an expensive item you over-spent on or something you thought you’d use, but never did. You might think, “but I spent $400 on those shoes,” says Golightly, “but, it’s okay to say ‘yep, I messed up’ and pass them on to someone else. Don’t make yourself feel bad by looking at them every day in your closet.”
It’s not always easy to get rid of something that feels sentimental, even if it is an item that we no longer use or have space for. Letting go of an item can bring a different kind of emotion, whether it’s making you excited to host in your newly decluttered home, or strength for finally removing that item.
There are items that hold emotional significance to us, but drudge up negative emotions. “Like hanging onto your wedding dress because, or even though, your marriage failed,” says Golightly. The feeling of “I don’t want to deal with that” creates a mental block—but it’s through facing that feeling head on that we can finally let go and make space for new memories and new items that hold both practical and emotional value.
Golightly explains that people often get trapped in the mindset of “what if we go through that hard time again, and we can’t afford to purchase an item we might need.” She uses the example of skis from the 1960s that you’re not even using, but hold onto in the chance that you might want to one day—and don’t think you’d be able to afford a new pair. “But you can always borrow them, or rent them,” Golightly continues. “It’s not worth hanging onto them and wrecking your current days for your future days.”
“Just as someone might make excuses not to leave a toxic relationship, you hold onto these items because you don’t know any better,” explains Golightly. Until you practice it, it’s hard to get out of this pattern. So how do we overcome these six reasons? Golightly says it only takes three questions.
Golightly says you don’t have to say yes to all the questions in order to keep an item, but using this method will help you decide what deserves to stay in your home.
If you’re looking for more details on how to declutter your space, Golightly has a ton of courses available via her website. She will also be at the Calgary Fall Home Show Sept 30 – Oct 2 and the Edmonton Fall Home Show Oct 14-16.
Are you over 18 years of age?