Some things are fairly easy to get rid of: broken items that will never get repaired, excess food storage containers that are missing their lids, etc. But other items are harder to deal with and might delay your uncluttering project, including the following:
You don’t need to keep something just because it belonged to a beloved relative. If it’s something you don’t like and don’t use, and it has been stored in the back of a closet for years, it’s not serving anyone. Personally, I think it honors the memory of that relative much more to get the item back in use, even if the person using it isn’t you. Remember that most relatives, given their love for us, would not want us to be burdened by their things.
Maybe another family member would appreciate having the inherited item. If not, it can be given away, thus taking on a new life as part of someone else’s home. Depending on the circumstances, the new owner might even appreciate hearing the story behind it.
And before you give the item away, you can always take a photo of it to serve as a smaller keepsake.
Potentially useful stuff
These are the “I might use it someday” things. Here you need to evaluate the trade-offs between keeping the item and passing it along. The following are some questions to consider:
- Is it worth giving this item space in your home today because it might be useful at some future time?
- How likely is it that you’re really going to use it?
- If you give it away and wind up needing something like it later on, could you borrow one from someone else?
- If you had to rebuy it, would that be difficult or expensive?
- If you wind up needing something like this seven years from now, would the one you have now even be likely to meet your future needs? (Some things are timeless, but others aren’t.)
- If someone else could make good use of the item right now, would giving it to that person make more sense than having it sit on a shelf in your home, so you have it “just in case”?
Other people’s stuff
This category is often filled with things that belong to adult children who no longer live at home. If those children are still fairly transient and living in a limited space, such as a college dorm room, you may want to keep storing these things for them, for the time being.
But if the stuff is taking up space you want for other purposes and you’ve had it for ages, you may decide it’s time for a change. If the owners live some distance away from you, consider sending them photos and letting them know you’ll be donating any items they don’t specifically tell you they want, and include a deadline for responding to you.
Be sure you also set a date in the not-too-distant future by which the owners will pick up the items they’ve asked you to keep. Alternatively, make arrangements to have the items mailed or shipped to them.