Breaking Through the Hypnosis of Clutter

I recently got an email from someone who is reading my book. Our email conversation about her question and the resolution that came from it is very insightful and I wanted to share it.

She wrote:

"I am preparing for a major move. My question is, how do I deal with "I-might-need-this-later" as I'm going through my clutter? I'm going through my self-help books right now. I'll flip through a book and my mind will say "Hmm, this has good information that I could use". I'll then want to keep the book. Even though I had read the book years ago or I hadn't opened the book in years, I'll want to hang on to it for "future reference". My "want to keep" pile of books then starts getting larger than my "want to donate" pile. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!"

I wrote her:

"Your situation about feeling you might need something later is a common experience. The really nice thing about your experience is it allows you to see the mechanics of how you hold onto things. Even though you're not using something, you feel the need to hang onto it. We are taught that things are so important that we get hypnotized by them. It makes us do things that don't actually benefit us. Seeing it, and talking about it honestly helps break the hypnosis. Since you are moving, I'd say let go of anything that is not inspiring you now. Inspiring means it gives you vitality, it fuels you, it helps you enjoy life, it serves you."

She wrote back:

"Well, it took me a while, but I got through all of my books. The following things really helped me:

1.) Taking the books to another room and then going through them.
2.) Taking breaks. Clutter-busting can be mentally draining, so going through the books a little bit at a time kept me motivated.
3.) Drinking water.
4.) Assessing whether the book was useful to me "now" and trusting my decision. When I kept these points as my main focus, it helped me to quickly go through the books and not second-guess myself. I was able to donate about 100 books.

I have a lot more things to go through to prepare for the move, but I will be using what I learned in the book to help me get through the items quicker. "