My husband and I have moved three times this past year, and each time we prepare to move we ask ourselves, “How did we accumulate so many things?” This is despite the fact that we've only been married three years and have had a very short amount of time to hoard things! Regardless, we always find items to donate, sell, or give to friends before moving. If you're having a difficult time determining what to keep and what to toss before you PCS, ask yourself a few essential questions.
- Does it serve a purpose? Look at each of your things and determine what purpose it serves in your home. Obviously, your bed serves a purpose... but does the stack of magazines that sits under your bed? I have a large stack of Real Simple magazines for which it's time for me to say goodbye. Why? Because it's not realistic that I'm going to pick them up and read them again. After a year’s worth of issues have come into my home, it is time to say bye-bye and make room for next years’. It may be a very useful something sitting in your home, but are you using it? This is the time to stop keeping belongings based on the thought, “I am planning on using this when…” How long has “someday” been your response? This essential question causes you to take a critical look at your things and decide if they are worth carting across the country with you.
- Is it being used? You may determine that it serves a purpose, but do you use it? For example, my clothes. I have countless sweaters that serve to keep me warm, yet I choose the one I like the most to wear each time and the rest...well, the rest just sit and take up space in my closet. While living with family, I put most of my clothes in storage for 3 months. At the end of the 3 months, I brought them out and combed through them with fresh eyes. I realized that most of the clothes I'd hung onto I didn't miss, nor did I want to hang them back up in my closet. This was a clear determinant that it was time to pass them along to someone who would actually use them! Whether it's clothes, vases, picture frames, furniture, or anything else you may be hoarding, make sure that if you're making space for it, you're using it.
- Are there multiples? We had two printers sitting around the house for some time. Did we need two? Of course not. Instead, we decided to sell the older printer and pocket the money. We're all guilty of buying something we already have. Do you have multiple black flats? How about several of the same kitchen utensil? Do you need multiples? Sometimes you do. Most of the time you don't. This questions reverts you back to questions 1 and 2.
- Does it draw emotion? If it doesn't serve a purpose in your home, then it must draw emotion. We hold onto keepsakes because they contain memories and memories make us feel something. Keepsakes are definitely okay and should be kept around to keep memories alive. There are, however, things that no longer draw emotion from us. For example, we hang onto cards from dear loved ones that we may not receive another card from, but does that mean that we should hang onto every card we receive? I've received many impersonal, unsigned cards, and as much as I want to feel some gratitude and connection to the sender, I don't. Hanging onto such things, for me, becomes a waste of space. I encourage you to re-evaluate your keepsake boxes and make sure that they contain only keepsakes.
As you prepare your home for its next PCS, walk through and ask yourself these essential questions. You'll certainly find yourself with a great deal of things to sell, donate, or to give as gifts. Even more, you'll have a great appreciation and value for the things you choose to keep!