How Do You Clear The Good Stuff?

Hi, Alison,

I have been reading your website with interest, but I do feel that the vast majority, if not all, of the items you are “tossing” are things you just should have got rid of a long time ago, as they seem to be useless items, or broken etc.  What I really need to know is how to get rid of all the GOOD items, all the things I still REALLY LIKE or REALLY WANT, but that take up room which they really shouldn’t.

Things like framed pictures, of which I have several too many to go on my walls, but which I keep in case I want to change around the decor at some point.  Things like all my coursework for the two City and Guilds courses I have taken (and still am taking), which includes some fairly bulky fabric work.  Things like photographs from the past sixty plus years of my life, photographs of people no longer in my life but whom I can’t quite let go.  Things like the hundreds of clothing items and shoes, which still fit, and which I still wear, but, again, take up room which perhaps should not be taken up …

You don’t seem to address these things – I would be interested to hear your comments …
Best regards,
A reader, England


My reply:

You make a couple of good points. The first about what is clutter, the second how to get rid of it even if we still like it or have emotional attachments. The two points are intertwined thus.

Karen Kingston in her book, ‘Clearing Your Clutter with Feng Shui’ states that clutter can be defined as

  • Things you do not use or love
  • Things that are untidy or disorganized
  • Too many things in too small a space
  • Anything unfinished

You use the word ‘should’ several times in your email. My first suggestion would be to drop the ‘shoulds’ in every case, relax and focus on what you *want* to do with your things. I think you will find that not all clutter is built the same.

Some is easy to get rid of, like you say, because it is broken or you don’t have an emotional attachment, other stuff is more difficult because you invested a lot into it at one time like your coursework, other things don’t sound like clutter at all because you still use it and love it. Perhaps you can analyze it all and place a priority order on it to clear it. Because…

Clearing clutter is like flexing a muscle. It gets stronger with practice. You start with the easy stuff, move on to the harder stuff and from there get to the almost impossible stuff. As you go it gets easier, a momentum builds and emotionally you become more adept at dealing with it. I am only 50 days through my experiment but I’m sure you will see as I move through the broken and the small, the stuff I should have got rid of years ago, you will see me toss out more significant items. Clearing clutter is a process, and an emotional one at that. Very few of us are practiced at it. And we need time and regular training sessions to get expert.

There are some practical things you can do to get closure or ease the transition that usually involve compromise and refining. Perhaps you can repurpose the fabric work but toss the notes. Sort through your photos once, ditching the easiest, then re-sort again and again over a period of time – set yourself a goal to toss a certain number each time you have a purge but don’t expect to do it all at once. Do the same thing with your clothes, set yourself a goal of a number of items to be left with.

What also helps me is to know what is going to happen to the things I donate. If I think someone will benefit from my things, it helps. If I can give it to a friend where I can still see it, it can help (although it might make it worse.) If I have the energy and interest, selling things also helps because I can buy something more relevant to my current life. You can sell old black and white photos on eBay apparently. People will buy them even if they are strangers.

I hope that helps a little. I urge you to keep checking out my blog and other clutter clearing blogs. Keeping the clearing energy whirling around your life, wafting across it. This will keep it alive and stimulate those clutter clearing muscles.  :-)

Kind regards,


If you’d like to ask me a question, please email me alison at alisongolden dot com or fill in the form below. I’d be happy to help if I can!

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