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When you’re trying to declutter, how often do you keep things “just in case“?
I’ll keep that dress, just in case I’m invited to a cocktail party.
I’ll keep that squash racquet, in case I take it up again in the future.
I know I haven’t used that printer for a year, but I’ll keep it in case I ever need to print something.
Is this starting to sound familiar? How long have you been keeping items like this, and how many?
How often have you actually used them? Hmm?
Consider how much more space you’d have if you got rid of most of them.
But it’s not just the space. You’ll be much calmer and more able to focus once you reduce the clutter clatter – that is, the mental and visual noise that stems from being surrounded by too much stuff.
The average person has literally thousands of just in case items. Have a look around you right now. Look in your junk drawer, the back of your closet, and the shelves of the garage. See? What about that storage unit you’re paying for? Oof.
Think about why you’re keeping these items. Yes, of course it’s “just in case.” But go a little deeper.
Will you need them in an emergency? Not likely – so you don’t need to have immediate access to it. Chances are you won’t be able to find it amongst all your other “just in case” things anyway.
Are you afraid you won’t be able to replace it if you end up needing it? You don’t have to completely forgo contingency plans. In fact, having alternative contingency plans makes it infinitely easier to move on your “just in case” items, because you’re no longer worried about what you’ll do “just in case.”
So what are your contingency plan options?
Hiring is a great alternative for things you don’t need often. You get the use of the item without the full purchase cost, without the repairs and maintenance requirements, and without having to store it somewhere. You can hire almost anything these days, from clothing to machinery to sports equipment.
If you don’t have the budget to hire, you may be able to make use of public resources. The library is a great source, not only for books, but also computers, printers, and scanners. More recently, library cardholders can also access sewing machines and even 3D printers.
Tool libraries and “libraries of things” are increasingly popping up in various locations too. Just search the term and your local area name, and see if anything comes up. You might be surprised at how close the nearest one is! You can borrow a wide range of tools and other stuff, varying case-by-case.
You can also borrow from a friend or family member, with their consent. This works well for things like picnic sets, sports equipment (or any type of hobby equipment, really), car trailers – basically anything that you don’t use on a regular basis but *might* want to use in the future.
The free section
Is the item you’re holding onto frequently listed in working condition in the “free” section on Gumtree or Craigslist? If it is, you can probably get rid of the one you’ve got. Should you need one again, keep your eye out for a free one on these sites.
The Minimalists have a “just in case” rule that I really like. They suggest that you declutter anything that you can replace in under 20 minutes for under $20. This lets you get rid of massive amounts of stuff, and if you ever need to replace something it only costs $20 or so (if that). Please note that this is only for “just in case” items, not everything you own. That would be incredibly wasteful.
Now that you know your options, when you’re going through what to declutter next and decide to keep something “just in case,” ask yourself if there’s an alternative to keeping it. If you’re looking to declutter everything else, read this article on how to declutter tonnes of stuff without getting overwhelmed.
By using these alternatives you can drastically reduce what you own, save money buying less “just in case” items, save rent on a smaller house (because you now own so much less and don’t need all that extra space), and benefit from less clutter and less on the mind. And you’ll have less to clean. That’s a big one for me…
So, while in the future you might actually need to make use of a few “just in case” items that you discarded, the amount of things that this will allow you to get rid of will be well worth the sacrifice.
If you need some extra motivation and tips on how to sell what you’ve decluttered so far, this post will definitely help.
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Image by Rabie Madaci on Unsplash