Overwhelm | Causes and Cures | Too Much Stuff

Christmas was here no too long ago. Or a birthday. Or a holiday. They all seem to blend together after a while, and the result? Too much stuff, and it’s stuff we often never let go of.

I hate to admit it but even though I know better, I get the granddaughter too much stuff. I do try and make it stuff that is useful and things she needs, but that isn’t always the case.
She definitely has too much stuff, and, I know it causes her overwhelm when she is trying to clean her room. That is why I help her declutter and organize about every 6 months.

Anyway, my point is that too much stuff can be overwhelming.
Isn’t that why we are exhausted after most holidays. Especially the big ones. Too much shopping, too much money spent, too much eating, too much worrying, and too much partying.
It becomes just too much and is overwhelming!

So, can you guess what Part 3 of this series on Overwhelm is about?

TOO MUCH STUFF – Causes and Cures

Why do we have too much stuff?
The reasons are many. Here are just a few

– gifts (we are afraid to let go of in case we hurt someone’s feelings)
– sentimental attachments (to things we’re given, we acquired during special times, things that were handed down to us)
– we can’t find something so we just buy another
– we purchase the newest model and then keep the older model(s)
– we see use in them
– we might need them some day
– we spent good money on it
– we can’t decide whether to keep it or let it go (so we keep it)

I get it, I do. I have kept things for all of the above reasons.
However, it is not helping us in any way, shape or form. We just don’t have the capacity in our spaces or our brains to keep all that stuff.

We all have a clutter threshold. Mine is higher at some times than others.
I can have 3 pairs of shoes under the coffee table for 4 days and be fine with it. On the 5th day, they stress me out. Other times, it might be the 2nd day.
The point is, at some time we all reach our threshold.

Studies have shown that clutter, both hidden and in plain sight causes stress.

(1) It makes it hard to focus.

(2) It keeps us from enjoying our spaces.

Whether we see it or not, the fact that we have clutter is alive and well in both our conscious and our subconscious minds. We really can’t get away from it.

I have some cures for you. Some will be harder than others. Some will take a little more soul searching and decision making than others.

In Part 2 of this series, I suggested how we keep from having clutter.
In today’s Part 3, I am going to show you how to cure the disease of too much stuff.

There are several parts to this cure. The main thing involved is going through stuff and making decisions. I didn’t say the cure was going to be easy. But, it is doable, and it works!

This is how I go about it.
First, I choose a space. I choose the one that bothers me the most. The one that I think about most often or is causing a bottleneck in my life.

Second, I determine what the function or vision of the space is. I write this down and post it on the wall of the space.

Third, I decide what items need to live here to fulfill the function of vision for the room.

Fourth, I get started. I work from one side of the room either clockwise or counterclockwise. No skipping from space to space. This is important. Take my word for it.

As I work around the room, these are the things that are top of mind.

1. Determining what is clutter.
Anything that doesn’t support the function or the vision of the spaces leaves. These things will either be donated, sold, discarded or moved to the space where they should be living.

2. Making decisions.
Decisions can sometimes be hard. After all, not making decisions is what created clutter in the first place.
If you can’t decide whether to keep something or let it go, ask yourself these questions.
Do I love it?
Do I use it? (NOT will I maybe use it)
Do I need it?
If it doesn’t meet these criteria, it’s gone.

Clutter is Just Postponed Decisions

3. Letting it go.
What do I do with an item once I have decided it is no longer needed.
I can either

  • donate it
  • sell it
  • discard it

Did you notice I didn’t suggest “passing it on” to your kids, your family or your friends?
There is a reason for that.
Did you possibly collect some of your stuff because a well-meaning friend or family member thought you might like it or need it?

Now, if you know someone who is truly in need, please do pass it on. But ask first, and let them know that there is no obligation to take it.
And really MEAN IT!

If you don’t know someone personally, I like to pass on clothes and small household items to Community Centers. They do not as far as I know, charge the recipients for the items.
There are many in need in this world.
Pass it on.

4. Quit bringing stuff into your space.
This piece is often overlooked. We really can do without more stuff. If you find you can’t, is there something that can leave your space to make room for the new thing?
Christmas is a perfect example. If you are purchasing toys for the kids, furniture for the house, or clothing for family members, make room for the new stuff. Refer to number 3 above for how to do that.