How To Let Go of Stuff

Are you {or a family member} having a difficult time letting go of stuff around your home? If you {or your family member} are truly committed to uncluttering, here are some methods for helping the process along.

“Friends, Acquaintances, Strangers” is an organizing game created by Judith Kolberg, author of Conquering Chronic Disorganization. It’s a great method for helping you {or your child or spouse} sort and shed a particular type of item i.e. books, DVDs, toys, clothing, etc. I recommend using this approach following your initial empty and sort when you’ve arrived at the Shed step. This is the point at which you are looking at a specific category and deciding what you’d like to keep and what you are ready to let go of. How long should friends stay in your home? Acquaintances? What about Strangers?

Another option is to instead choose something you love like movies, music, or sports, for example. Select three different genres or sports based on your personal opinion of them: one you love and absolutely cannot live without {hip hop, for example}, another you feel somewhat ambivalent about {say, country}, and the third one you don’t care about at all {easy listening, perhaps}. This may include belongings you have used and loved in the past but no longer fit in your life. Write each of these on sticky note and attach to an empty file box and start sorting. The contents of the Easy Listening box can be donated or tossed and the contents of the Hip Hop box stay. Take another run at the Country box contents and see if there is anything that really does belong in the Easy Listening box.

Finally, instead of sorting every item into the three categories, simply focus on “love and let go”. Help your child alternate between the two categories by picking out five {the number doesn’t really matter just pick a number between 1 and ten and stick with it} toys they love and five they can let go of. Then, five more they love and five more to let go of. Try not to spend too much time hemming and hawing. If you/they are hesitating, skip it and find something that fits in the love or let go categories.

The reality of letting go is that sometimes you have to approach it in phases over time. Yes, it takes longer but letting go when you’re ready is an important part of the process, in my opinion. So be tough but patient with yourself {or your spouse or child} when it comes to letting go.

Most people have at least one area of their life where they are reluctant to let go. I confess: mine is clothing. I still have suits and shoes from my days working as a software implementation consultant that I know need to go but I haven’t done the work yet {yes, we’ll come back to that on another day}. What’s your soft spot? Please share in the comments.


Hi, I'm Lauren! I'm a professional organizer, techie, business owner, wife, new mom, DIY'er. Born and raised on Long Island, recently relocated to Coastal NC from the DC area (which makes move #10). Currently reorganizing to create a thriving, inviting, comfortably organized home for me & my family.

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One Response to How To Let Go of Stuff

  1. I’m quite a minimalist but there are a few odd things I can’t seem to part with – like my old cheerleading uniform and pom poms.. (and I have no daughters to pass it on to for playing dressing up AND my husband isn’t even turned on by that kind of thing so I have no reason to keep it)

    I also can’t seem to part with my sons’ wooden Brio train set even though they are 14 and 11 and past playing with it. And there are a LOT of pieces with tracks, trains, tunnels, etc…

    The inspiration for my being able to let go of most things very easily comes from my mother. A few years ago she decided to give up all material possessions except her pick-up truck and she drives around USA doing volunteer work in exchange for room and board. She feels incredibly liberated not owning anything! A bit extreme for me, but inspirational at the same time.

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