We get stuff because it seems like a good idea at the time … and because $600 billion a year is being spent on advertising persuading us we need stuff.

We get stuff to make our life better. But because we never throw things out, stuff accumulates. Piles grow. It blots out the sunlight. And it makes our life worse because we have no way regular way of getting rid of it.

The stuff that once made our lives great is now a ball and chain holding back our progress. We need ways to get rid of stuff so we have a life where our stuff supports our goals.

Different strategies for getting rid of possessions give you a wide range of options for filtering your belongings based on your state of mind and desired results:


Review Your Goals

First, review your life goals, or even your shorter-term goals. Then, get rid of anything unrelated to those goals. Toss everything that isn’t directly useful towards what you’re trying to achieve. If one of your goals this year is to be more productive when working from home, toss everything in your office that doesn’t directly contribute to a healthy working environment.

Does the half-full mega-jar of cheese puffs or the three hundred Post-it notes you got during the holidays contribute to typing up reports? Probably not. Throw ‘em away.

Focus On Your Joy

Marie Kondo, expert in cleaning and author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up uses the feeling of joy to decide what to keep. Toss everything that doesn’t directly bring you joy. Touch each object. Think about it. Feel it. Determine if it brings you joy. If not, it’s gone. Take that gravy boat you’ve been saving for Aunt Millie’s yearly Thanksgiving dinner. Stare at the porcelain paintings of insane ducks. Notice the mild feeling of bird flu in your stomach. Does it bring you joy? No? Then out it goes.


Purge What You Never Use

 People often apply this to clothes, but it can be applied to anything. Obvious exceptions to this rule are fire extinguishers, generators and your shmoopie. If you haven’t touched your shmoopie in over a year, there are excellent relationship counselors who can help.

Store Judiciously

 If you have a self-storage unit, use it only for things that are necessary. Self-storage is where you store your seasonal equipment like sporting goods or a snowblower that you don’t have room for otherwise. Do not use it as a place to store stuff that you never use but don’t want to get rid of. That’s not storage, that’s hoarding. The aim here is to truly divorce yourself from the items that are weighing you down.


Confine Your Stuff

To do this, plan your ideal space use before you start getting rid of stuff. Then get rid of enough stuff so that everything fits in the space you’ve planned for it. If you have an attic filled with boxes, say “I’ll turn this into a pool room.” Then you have to get rid of the boxes in order to make room for a pool table.

Some things can be hard to get rid of, like stuffed animals. Marie Kondo has a solution: Get rid of stuffed animals by covering their eyes with a towel, putting them in a paper bag and throwing them away. Apparently she thinks if they can’t see you betraying the lifetime of comfort and companionship they’ve provided, it’s OK to send them to their deaths.

You don’t have to be as crazy a cleaner as Marie, but you can certainly act ruthless when exiling the items in your life that no longer hold any value. Plan spaces ahead of time, get clear on your goals, find what brings you joy and what doesn’t, and identify the stuff you just don’t use. Then, throw out all the useless junk you might not have needed in the first place.

Stever Robbins