What is clutter?  Any item that does not serve a valid purpose.

The most elementary guideline for decluttering is to delete all items that haven’t been used in the last year.  On the surface it makes perfect sense.  If it’s not being used, why keep it, right?

But sometimes, even if we haven’t used it in years (or ever), we still want to keep it.  We hope to use it someday.  What if we delete it and then decide to use it later?

Here are a few examples from my own life . . . 

THE PASTA MAKER: The one time I used it, it was great!  The fresh pasta tasted better, it was healthier, and the kids had fun using the machine with me.  But I haven’t made fresh pasta in over two years.  Is the pasta maker clutter?

THE FORMAL DRESSES: These three fancy dresses still look nice on me and I really like them.  But I haven’t been to a formal occasion in five years.  Are these dresses clutter?

THE BOOKS: I would love to read all of these books on my shelf.  They would certainly help me grow intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.  But I still haven’t finished the book I started last year.  Are these books clutter?

Just hearing these examples probably brought to mind a few things in your house that fit into this same category.  You haven’t been using it, but you aren’t sure whether it is clutter.  Here is one way to decide . . . 

Give yourself a Declutter Deadline: Use It or Lose It!

THE PASTA MAKER: I have three months to make home-made pasta at least once.  If I can’t find the time, if I don’t have the energy, or if I simply don’t care enough to follow through, that’s okay!  I will say goodbye to the pasta maker and enjoy the extra cabinet space.

THE FORMAL DRESSES: My husband and I have six months to do something fancy enough for me to wear one of these dresses.  If it’s too expensive, or if we decide would have more fun doing something more casual, that’s okay!  I will choose my favorite dress (just in case), let go of the others, and enjoy the extra closet space.

THE BOOKS: I have three months to finish the book I’m currently reading.  If I don’t have the time, the mental energy, and the motivation to finish one book, that’s okay!  I will choose my top three books, let the rest go, and enjoy the extra shelf space.

Decluttering can be an uncomfortable process.

We may feel guilty about buying something we never used. 

We may feel ashamed that we set out to do something and didn’t follow through. 

We may feel sad that we don’t have room in our schedules or budgets to do everything we want.

But when we don’t meet a decluttering deadline, all that means is something else in our current season of life is more important.

Why haven’t I been reading for pleasure or making fresh pasta or going out to fancy dinners? Because I have been keeping up with the immense learning curve of starting Home On Purpose.  This is a worthy use of my time!

In the future as my life ease up, I hope to have time to do things like reading for pleasure.  When that happens, the bookstores will be waiting.  

In the meantime, instead of being taunted by all those titles staring at me from the bookshelf, I will donate them to the library, and put that shelf to better use!  Maybe I will create a more functional mail-sorting station?

That is the beauty of the Declutter Deadline!  

Regardless of the outcome (whether you wind up using it or losing it) you will be confident in your decision.  It is time to roll up your sleeves and take control of your stuff and make your home easier to manage.

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