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Dealing with clutter excuses: “I might need it one day”


Clutter stops you from living in the present. If you are having trouble enjoying the space you’re in today, then the clutter is robbing you, writes decluttering expert, Peter Walsh.

I was having lunch at a cafe recently when a woman came up to me and said “I love your work – and I’m a big fan – but I still have trouble getting rid of things that I think I’m going to need sometime in the future.” Fortunately, I had just swallowed my last bit of Fuji apple chicken salad and was able to ask her what her name was.

In fact, without realising it, “Jean” had just given me an idea for the next few articles I’m going to write: how to deal with the most common excuses people have for their clutter.

Holding onto things in the event that you might need them one day isn’t actually accomplishing any good. Picture: Getty

So, Jean (and anyone else out there dealing with things they’re holding onto that they just know they’ll eventually need) here we go with the first excuse that I most frequently use when helping people declutter: “I can’t get rid of it.… I Might Need It One Day!”

First, let me say that it’s very important and very wise to plan for the future. But, of course, there are different ways of doing that. Keeping every empty shoe box you’ve ever collected because your kids may need them one day for an art project isn’t actually accomplishing the goal of planning for the future. You’re just carrying a bunch of empty shoeboxes.

READ: How to organise your wardrobe the KonMari way

Similarly, holding onto items like clothes that no longer fit you, slightly broken appliances, or pieces of scrap wood – all in the event that you might need them one day – isn’t actually accomplishing any good at all. In fact, if it’s causing clutter in your home, then I’d argue it’s really hurting you far more than the possibility of it ever helping you in the future.

Decluttering is the best space saver. Picture: Oz Design Furniture

Here’s what I truly believe: Clutter stops you from living in the present. If you are having trouble enjoying the space you’re in today, then the clutter is robbing you of the only real time you’re guaranteed: Now.

Look, many of the things that you are saving for the future are things which represent your hopes and dreams. So parting with them may be difficult. I do understand that. Sensibly preparing for the future is a wise thing – but when those items take over and you find yourself with a house full of clutter the “stuff” you’re holding onto actually limits your possibilities and stunts your growth. So, while I’m urging you to get rid of the clutter, I’m definitely not telling you to cast aside your dreams. Instead, by opening up the space, I believe you’re opening up the space to let your dreams come true.

To be clear I’m not saying that you won’t ever lose weight again and therefore you should discard your old skinny jeans. Instead, I believe that when you do lose that weight, you’ll deserve to buy a new pair of skinny jeans and give yourself that reward then. It’s very possible that the things you’re holding onto “to be used one day in the future” are actually mocking you every time you look at them and seriously limiting your possibilities. Don’t give those things that power. Get rid of those unnecessary items holding you back now.

Now is the perfect time to take a look at the clothes at the back of your cupboard. Picture: Chris L Jones

So, take a good look at the things you have told yourself you need for some imagined future. If you’re not using them regularly at some point this year then I’d argue you should seriously consider letting it go. The past is over and the future is not guaranteed. Live your life for today by getting rid of the things that are simply weighing you down!

This article was originally published as Dealing with clutter excuses: “I might need it one day” by and is written by Peter Walsh.

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