Emotional Lessons as a Professional Organiser
Lockdown and Covid was hard. It was easy to buy stuff, keep stuff and try to justify stuff. We thought we had all the time in the world to declutter and organise.
We bought a treadmill in 2015. We spent money and time and energy setting up the treadmill. We definitely only used it 20 times in 7 years. We didn’t get rid of it because it had cost over $1000, and we wanted to get the value out of it. We wanted to be fitter and leaner. I thought that having it in our living room and accessible would magically get us fitter. The kids wanted it too and promised that they would use it. I wanted my kids to be fitter. And still it didn’t get used.
The other “heavy” thing about the treadmill, was that it needed to be taken apart to get it out the door. The motor was very heavy, and it just seemed really complicated to find someone to buy it who would be willing to get it off our property. There were too many steps to sell it, so it was just easier to keep it.
It took up a such a large part of our living room.
The Emotional Weight of Stuff
Every time I looked at that treadmill, I felt guilty and annoyed. I had not been able to incorporate using it into my daily or even weekly habits. It was weighing me down.
Eventually I decided to cut my loses and sell it for a price that would get rid of it quickly. The good thing about using Facebook marketplace is the Local Buying Groups. There was no way someone would want the treadmill if they lived over 50 kms away. And no one would buy it if they couldn’t find a vehicle to pick it up. See the link to my blog post below about how to sell on Facebook Marketplace.
Pricing is Important
This is where you need to get good advice about pricing. If buyers think they are getting something for free, they seem to think that they can ask for more. More freedom to muck you around and not come at the arranged time to pick up. This is what I hear over and over about people trying to give away items for free. And it has happened to me with my work with families who are moving or decluttering. Often it is better to put a small price tag on an item and have a very good reason for a pickup deadline. Otherwise consider listing an item on a local Buy Nothing / Pay it Forward or Free cycle group.
The price I put on the treadmill was $100. But the buyer had to pick it up. I found a buyer very quickly and they picked up the treadmill the next day. They had a big 4-wheel drive and a teenage son, so it was easy for them to lift the treadmill out the front door and into their vehicle. They seemed very very happy to get the treadmill. Maybe they would have paid $160 or even $200 for the treadmill. The happiness that I feel when I see the empty space on my living room floor is worth the money that we lost on the purchase.
Lucky for me, I only felt an emotional pull away from the treadmill and zero attachment to the stupid thing. This made getting rid of it so much easier because I felt relief and happiness when the treadmill was gone. Not everything has zero attachment though. What do you do if you feel all the feels from your stuff??
Finding Liberation in Letting Go
It is natural to feel the sentimental attachment to possessions. Decluttering allows us to unearth memories and emotions tied to these items. Sometimes we only need a small dose of the thing rather than many copies of it. For instance, dolls, teddy bears, cards, letters, parent’s or children’s clothes. These items tug at our emotions. They might be soft, fluffy, smell like the loved one or just a huge reminder of a wonderful loving time.
When you gather the multiples of a particular item, it is possible to really see the total quantity. It is possible to see them in a clearer way. Keeping only one representative item can be enough to remember all the feelings.
I have done this with some childhood soft toys. I have looked at them and taken a photo of them. I tell myself that soft toys collect dust mites and all sorts of bacteria over the years. I may have even thanked the toy before it went into my bin. I smile when I see the photo on my phone, but I have zero regrets for discarding the actual item.
I have found it common for women to keep dozens of large plastic containers of baby clothes in the garage. Sometimes it is keeping the potential of having another baby or feeling very sad about losing a baby. It is helpful to talk out loud the reason for keeping very sentimental items.
The Power of Speaking Words Out Loud
Try to say out loud your thoughts and justifications for keeping things. This diminishes their power to keep you stuck. I was keeping quite a few of my late mother’s good drinking glasses. I have such happy memories of family times with those glasses. It was so much easier to not decide to give them away and put them a cupboard. A good friend who was helping me empty mum’s house asked me what I was doing. I said “I’m keeping these because they are good glasses and ……………..”. Then it struck me that I had many good glasses back at my house. I didn’t need any more and the reason I had spoken out loud was ridiculous. The glasses went to Vinnies.
The Joy of Giving
Matt Paxton is an American Professional Organizer. Look him up on YouTube – he is a very skilled storyteller. He is someone who specialises in downsizing, and he talks about the power of donation. He says that once you put a value on an item that you want to sell, you are doomed to disappointment. You will never get back what you paid for an item unless you are very lucky. Think about the people who invested thousands in World Book Encyclopedias. They did not hold their value and are now worthless. Matt Paxton recommends donating things that you do not need to your favourite charity. It feels good to donate and helps others. It feels better than getting frustrated and sad that your stuff is not worth much and is hard to sell. .
Catch Matt Paxton here on Youtube.
You can trust a Professional Organiser to advise you on:
- What is worth keeping.
- What is worth donating.
- Where to donate.
You can let the stuff be packed into my car and be taken to your favourite charity.
Your Journey to Happiness in Your Home
Do you need support to just get started? Zing Home Organising can help you at the beginning, the middle and end of decluttering and organising. We offer a free 30-minute phone call or Zoom call to discuss what you need.
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