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Using photos to reduce household clutter
Sept. 13, 2019
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by Ivan Raconteur

It’s easy to find advice about any subject imaginable – not good advice, necessarily, but advice. Every so often, however, I encounter a suggestion that makes sense.

Recently, I heard a recommendation that I think I can actually follow.

The subject is de-cluttering.

There’s no doubt I have more stuff taking up space at the bachelor estate than I need.

The kind people who generously volunteered their time on moving day will testify to that.

I recall several comments along the lines of “how can one person use this much stuff?”

There was also a polite comment from one astute helper, who subtly observed, after hauling countless boxes of books into the house, “You know – you can get books on Kindle now ... ”

I have almost as many excuses for not dealing with the clutter as I have boxes of items that haven’t been used since I bought the place.

“I don’t have time,” I say. Lately, I have been combatting this problem by trying to focus on eliminating just one box at a time.

It’s not that I don’t want to get rid of stuff. I just don’t seem to get around to it.

When I do manage to clear out a box or two, it is always a liberating feeling, as if a burden has been lifted.

One of my favorite excuses for not getting rid of things is, “I might need that someday.”

The reality, of course, is that if the day comes that I do need the item, I probably won’t be able to find it anyway.

The helpful advice I heard this week suggested that a lot of people hang on to things because they feel some sort of sentimental attachment to them.

I think there is some truth to that.

I used to keep clothes that reminded me of happy times in days gone by. At some point, I realized that unless I get a total body transplant, there’s no way I could actually wear those clothes anymore. Once I accepted that, I was able to let go of the old clothes, and that freed up a lot of space in my closet.

There are other items, however, that have been difficult to part with.

Some are things that I acquired when my sister and I cleared out my mother’s apartment after she cashed in her chips.

Even though I don’t use some of these things, there are many memories associated with them.

The solution offered by the advice I heard this week is to take photos of the items.

This, according to some research, makes it possible to keep the memory while letting go of the item.

That’s brilliant.

A digital file on my laptop would take up dramatically less physical space than an item sitting on a shelf.

I’m going to implement this suggestion and see how much space I can clear out.

I suspect that this may make it easier to get rid of some items by eliminating the notion that “someone should keep them.”

I think a lot of people who have inherited treasures from relatives find themselves in that trap. It’s especially tough for those of us who don’t have children, since we can’t just pawn off these artifacts on the next generation.

Another obstacle I have had to overcome is the idea that these things have monetary value.

For the purpose of de-cluttering the home, I have accepted the fact that if I don’t use and don’t want an item, it has no value.

Many people successfully sell items via newspaper classified ads. Others have organized garage sales to dispose of unwanted items.

Frankly, my time is worth more than what I would get by making the effort to organize and display my accumulated treasures just to sell them for a dime or a quarter apiece.

It would be much quicker and easier to donate the items or give them to friends.

If I haven’t managed to find new homes for these items in the past decade or two, I don’t need any complications that might prevent me from doing so now.

I’ll give it a whirl, and see if replacing physical items with photos can help me convert clutter into usable space.

I bet the bachelor estate will feel a lot bigger if I do nothing more than clear out some things I no longer need.


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