Decision making. This is really hard! But I think it is tough because there are numerous reasons for my ambiguity. Some things are in this pile because I am not sure what value they have. Obviously I think they might have value or they would just be trash. So how can I figure out if something is actually of value to me? I need guidelines for e-VALUE-ation.
Decision Kit Tool #1
Some things are still perfectly useable, but probably not by me. I have a hard time letting go of things that I spent time making, but didn’t use (Oh, the wasted hours!). When my kids were pre-school/kindergarten age, I spent a lot of time printing, laminating, coloring, and cutting things out to use in our homeschool (you would have thought I was making stuff for an entire kindergarten class!). So much of that stuff they used once or not at all, so it was certainly still useable. Eventually I gathered up all the stuff that my kids had outgrown and passed it on to some other homeschoolers who were just getting started. They were thrilled to get all my amazing stuff! Giving things away to someone who really needs it can ease the pain of letting go of something that you worked hard on but no longer need. Decision Kit Tool #1: The item is still useable, but not something I need anymore = give this away to someone who would like it (or sell it).
Decision Kit Tool #2
School papers are hard for me to sort through because, again, we spent time and effort making them, so they seem valuable to me. But really, most of the value is in the process, not the end product. I need to separate the value of the process from the product itself and let the paper go. Getting rid of the paper in no way diminishes what my children have learned. But it will make our space more productive and useful if we don’t have piles of old papers around! Think of it like food: totally needed and useful, but once you have digested it and taken the nutritional value from it, guess what it is? Poop!–to put it delicately. That is what all this paper is and you don’t need to live in a pile of it!
I recently had each child help me sort through a big pile of their schoolwork and art projects. They were much better at discerning what was actually of interest to them to keep. They were not in the least interested in keeping all the scribbles and “babyish” art they did 5 years ago (imagine!). In the end, they each had one small bin of papers and art to keep. Get your children to help you discern what is really worth saving for them. Decision Kit Tool #2: Old stuff that you have already digested = get out the pooper scooper and send it to the recycle bin. Make space for new things in your life.
Decision Kit Tool #3
General information, articles, notes, etc. are also hard for me to deal with because they seem potentially valuable to me. It may be information I will want in the future, but I don’t know how to make it accessible for the future. Putting it in a pile is the least accessible it could possibly be, so this is NOT a solution! Filing seems like a good way to keep it accessible for the future, BUT…the problem with filing is that I keep packing filed information away forever. I don’t have enough room to file an infinite number of papers. This is a huge source of stress to me: I want to have information, but I don’t have any good way to curate my information so that it is current and relevant to me. How can I get past this mindset of hanging on to everything?
What this boils down to is FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). I have fear that if I toss something, I’ll miss out on something in the future. It is a way of saying “no” to something, and that always means limitations. My culture does not encourage limitations. There is a tendency to think that everything should be unlimited and that you should always keep all your options open. But when we try to do that, we end up so flooded and congested with stuff, we can’t even begin to make any choices. In a sense, we become a chaotic and undefined person because we cannot make any choices. I need to take a good, hard look at what I want my life to be and start defining it by the choices I make. Pruning trees makes them more fruitful, and getting rid of excess stuff from your life will allow you to pour more energy into the few things you really want to focus on. Decision Kit Tool #3: Pick a few things that you want to be the defining focus of your life at this time = prune the deadweight of stuff that no longer helps you.
Decision Kit Tool #4
Finally, we hit the sentimental stuff. Sentimental stuff includes photos, letters, artwork, journals, clothing, knick-knacks, souvenirs, gifts, things that belonged to your grandmother, and so on. In some ways these items are like a combination of items under Tool #2 and Tool #3. These are things that have served a purpose in the past, like Tool #2 stuff, but now it isn’t actually doing anything except serving as a reminder of the past. And like stuff in Tool #3, these are things that we tend to accumulate around ourselves because we think that somehow we can define ourselves with it. But I am NOT my stuff! I am worth far more than a pile of objects, and those objects are not actually me. I think it is especially important to get rid of the stuff that keeps you in the past instead of living in the now and looking toward the future. Decision Kit Tool #4: sentimental stuff is not you = only pick a few choice things to actually display or preserve and prune down the rest (especially things that are negative reminders of unhappy things in the past!).