We all lose items as life goes on and things just get left behind. As life and time pass by, unused or forgotten things pile up and become clutter. As more time passes and life changes you will need to either clear the clutter or move it to more permanent storage, this is a good time to go through the clutter and find what was lost to us and reflect back on our journey through life.
Different types of Clutter
1. Sentimental Clutter
Sentimental clutter are items that don’t hold any real material value but rather are priceless items that remind us of a person, place, or event in our lives which we choose to remember, hopefully fondly. Sometimes we hold on to items that remind us of positive changes we have gone through after a rough time in our lives and use the items to remind us to stay on course with the positive changes. Finding sentimental clutter can bring back memories and remind us to get in touch with lost friends or family. Try to downsize the amount of sentimental clutter by removing items where you no longer have a strong connection to. You can also take a picture of the items and place them in a photo album.
2. Photographs Clutter
Photographs are a type of sentimental clutter but deserve their own recognition as visual representations such as photos can bring strong memories. The only thing that may be stronger are smells which aren’t really collectible. Photographs can also be sorted and organized into photo albums as you are decluttering old photos that don’t hold the same value as they once did due to fading memories. You may also look at either using a scanner or a service that will take the physical photos and turn them into digital versions to make them not only easier to share but with cloud backup services make sure they aren't lost should something happen to either your computer or your house. These might be useful to also make note of places to visit or people to reconnect with.
3. Life Growth Clutter
Have you kept your old journals, homework or work documents like reports? Looking back at how far you have come can be a reminder of the hard work it took to get you to where you are. If you are not where you think you should be, maybe it’s time to look back at some of your old goals and find a new path you will enjoy or how to achieve where you would like to be on your current path. You may want to make some notes on milestones with dates to help you either get ahead or back on your chosen path.
4. Hobbies Clutter
We all have some fun projects we either started, finished, or never had time to start. Looking back at the finished ones can bring back many happy memories of the effort you put in and accomplishing your goals. You can also look back and try to figure out what stopped you from finishing some of the projects, and if you can prevent this in the future with better planning. If you plan to finish or start one of the items from the clutter, I suggest not putting an unstarted or unfinished one back in storage but rather clear an area in your home just for your hobby. Having the item out in the open and ready to go will help you get back into it when you have a high energy or creative day and are looking for an outlet to release the energy. There comes a great feeling of accomplishment finishing a project and helps overcome future self-doubt that you can’t finish your goals. If you have placed this project in the open and still haven’t gotten to it after a few months, it may be time to rethink your time management or if you really wanted to start this project and wouldn’t be better off with a different one.
5. Forgotten Task Clutter
Going through the clutter can help find task we have forgotten about. These could be simple as overdue library books or returning borrowed items, but also important ones such as forgotten renewals to our insurance or licenses. If you are going through paperwork clutter it may be a good time to make note of if you are up to date on all your renewals and if any policy changes should be made due to new life changes. These renewals could be subscriptions we are paying for and don’t need such as gym memberships, or things we do use forget about like storage locker fees. You may want to get a planner to make note of all the important renewal dates if you have forgotten a few. There are also online software for planning ahead or keeping ahead of tasks such as "Trello" and "Monday".
6. Valuable Clutter
Valuable clutter might not be very sentimental and you might not have any great memories attached, however, you can sell these and use the money to make new memories. I am referring to valuable clutter as lost gift cards or items you bought when you thought you needed it or was supposed to be a gift for someone and you never gave it away. Sometimes they also could be used decorations or items that are in good condition you just have no attachment to anymore. You can use phone apps like “Offer Up” or “Letgo”, or websites like “eBay” or “Craigslist”. Just use caution when using such services as there are scammers. When meeting in person for the exchange meet in public places like malls or some towns have a designated space for this in front of the police station where there are cameras and police nearby in case something goes wrong.
7. Looking Back
Clearing the clutter can be a great way to reflect back on accomplishments and failures. We can learn from our failures and make plans on how we can overcome them for the future. We can look at ourselves and see how far we have come and where do we want to go next. The goal of clearing the clutter isn’t to keep on to our past but reflect on it and make room for the future.