How to know what to get rid of?

In the past I have written a blog on what my family calls “editing yourself.” This means getting rid of what you don’t need to have. I have done a podcast on this recently The blog post can be found at

What I want to explore more in depth here is how do you know what to get rid of. This can be hard for anyone but especially those of us affected by ADHD.

There are good reasons to get rid of stuff.

  • There is a sense of accomplishment
  • Your place usually looks better
  • You know where to find what you want immediately
  • Duplicates of items have been eliminated
  • You, if you give away the stuff, offer the opportunity for someone else, most likely less fortunate, to enjoy what you are not using.

What to get rid of? This can be hard because many of us struggle with getting rid of anything. I think the most common concern is “what if I need it in the future?”

Luckily, there are places such as “Amazon” where if need be you can replace it if it ever comes to that. Usually, the majority of stuff we get rid off we never notice. This is because most of what we get rid of are things that we no longer use often or at all and things that no longer function properly.

A well known, and good way to decide, if you need to keep something you are not sure about is to box it up. Put it in a box or if it is big, in a closet. Put two dates on it. The date you packed it up and six months from that date.

Put the six months date in your calendar. On that date if you haven’t opened the box or gotten the large object out, it is given away or tossed depending what it is. If the box has not been opened in the last six months then that doesn’t mean you open it and re-evaluate, you just get rid of it. You can do a shorter time than six months, it is up to you what works for you. There are also some things which don’t need the wait time. You know immediately that it no longer is a necessary part of your life. Get rid of those things immediately.

Of course this is not how you should handle certain, valuable heirlooms. When I say “valuable” I don’t necessarily mean monetary value. Things can have historic or cultural value. That doesn’t mean you necessarily keep it but maybe find a good home for it.

For example, when I was growing up our basement held a lot of memorabilia. There were posters that I saw in my history books in our basement. When we decided to move a gentleman came out from a university and took most of the memorabilia for their archives where it still exists today. And probably in much better shape than if we had kept it. Also, the collection is available for others to study and examine.

Not everyone is going to have stuff that has cultural or monetary value but you never know. When it comes to valuables, think about if you are really going to use or treasure the valuable. For example I have some jewelry that I treasure, not sure if it is valuable but I make a conscious effort to wear the jewelry and not just let it sit in a box. Enjoy yourself, share your stuff or get rid of it so that others can benefit from it.

This is hard to do. I know I struggle with getting rid of stuff. The constant question is “what if I need it in the future?” The answer is – is it replaceable, borrowable, rentable, etc.? If it is then you have options if in the rare instance you need it again. Be real with yourself. Ask yourself “what is the likelihood that I will ever use this again?”

Like I said, this is hard. I continue to struggle all the time with this. But I have found one thing out. Once you begin to get rid of stuff it gets easier as you see virtually no negative ramifications from getting rid of whatever you let go of. Also, it is enjoyable to see that space you just cleared out looking good.

We cleared out my second bedroom. It took days. I wanted it cleared out but I also didn’t want to give up any of the stuff. What if I might need it in the future? But, once I got started it became easier to give stuff away. What helped was I found a place to take my arts and crafts supplies that I wasn’t using. It was a church that was having a bazaar to raise money. I am not a member of that church but they do good works so that made it easier for me to give away stuff because I knew it would benefit others.

So having an incentive can help. Also the more we cleared things out of the bedroom, the more pleasant the room became which made me happy.

It is best to have a plan where the stuff is going to go before you start sorting it out. After I cleared the bedroom, I got excited and started sorting all the piles of books around my condo and in my bookshelves without a plan as to where the books would go.

Remember that cleared out second bedroom I mentioned? Well it is no longer cleared out because I have over 10 boxes of books in there waiting for a new home. I have now found a place to take them and hope to do that this weekend. Mind you I boxed the books up about a year ago! We are all works in progress at least that is what I keep saying to myself.

Get rid of what you can. Box up and date what you can’t decide about. Put in your calendar when you will get rid of it if you don’t open the box in advance. Have a place as to where the box will go so when time is up it goes there and doesn’t continue to take up unnecessary space in your home or office.

Good luck!