Saturday, November 26, 2011

Decluttering tip #4: If it's not yours, give it back or give it the boot!

'Could you keep this for me?'

Part of my clutter problems started with this simple question from a family member.

Ever been asked that? What did you say?

If you're like me, the answer was 'Sure, why not?' Turns out that there is a good reason why not:

Your home is not your friends' and family's spare closet!

Again, if you're like me, you can already hear the whining and see the (crocodile?) tears welling in some of those folks' eyes. But we can handle this now!

If someone is trying to foist an object on you, ask for some time to consider where you'll put it, and tell them you'll get back to them. In reality, you know that you're not going to put it anywhere. But hopefully in that time they'll forget and will find another alternative.

If they still insist on "giving" you the object, say honestly that you do not have the space. Keep saying no.

If they won't listen when you say no, then it's time to look at why they are so stuck on you keeping this item. Remember that they may be struggling with the same issues letting go of items as we are. Share some of what you've learned about downsizing. And offer to help take that TV to the Salvation Army.

Sometimes the items that don't belong to us are more sneaky about the ways they get into our house. The sweater a friend left when she visited from out of state. The baking dish left by your cousin at Thanksgiving (no, this is part of the reason I don't tend to host Turkey Day for my family).
If the objects are already in your home, call the person who gave them to you and give them a deadline to pick up the item, or you'll donate it. If they can't stop by, offer to mail it. The postage to mail it may be worth the emotional cost of keeping it.

But most importantly, do not give in and say yes figuring you'll get rid of the object later. Even if you do get rid of it, this other person now may feel that you're their spare closet just because you said 'yes' once.

I realize this is how I became my paternal grandmother's dumping ground for kitchen equipment. Her best friend died and Grandmom got to clean out Emily's house. Now I'm stuck with half of Emily's kitchen because Grandmom didn't want to see all those pots and pans 'go to waste' and I couldn't say no. Teriffic. All part of the reason I'm doing this challenge, right?

What's the most aggrivating thing you've kept just because someone else asked you to?

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