For anyone who finds actually getting stuff out of the house a huge hurdle…



I have done so well with de-cluttering my stuff over these last 3 years. I have got rid of a lot, and not regretted any of it. It has also taught me to think more carefully about what I bring into the house. But I still have one aspect of de-cluttering that doesn’t get any easier for me:

I am really bad at actually getting the pile of stuff I have declared can go out of the house.

I mean really bad – I defer and defer and then procrastinate some more. I’ve worked out that for me it is around fear of regret and loss, even though experience tells me I haven’t once regretted anything after it has gone. But every time I take things to the charity shop, I occasionally feel overwhelmed with irrational regret for a few days and it is that few days experience that makes me defer the final decision because I don’t enjoy living through it.

I have no idea why I feel this: I know all the theory about sentimental attachment and loss etc, but when it happens, it isn’t enjoyable.

The human mind is a complex thing is it not? Sometimes analysing why we feel how we do is good, but other times, I find it more helpful just to accept this quirk of how I am and find ways to work around it. A case of ‘feeling the fear and doing it any which way I can’.

A couple of times, with stuff I need to go and I want to go but I seem choked over the final parting, I have either:

  • asked a friend to take it for me. That’s quite a good tactic. Don’t ask me why that is easier, but I have discovered it is, so I use it!
  • arranged collection by a charity that particularly touches me (in this case, our local Hospice), that helps me let go when I know they really need the money.
  • Taken the one thing out of the pile my feelings seemed to be focussed on and got rid of the rest with no problem.

Ultimately , at some point, having the stuff hang around for (sometimes) months eventually tips the balance and I get desperate just to see the back of it and that overcomes the other feelings.

I’m not asking for help or suggestions, lol, this is how I am and how I deal with it effectively.

I am just sharing some self awareness of what I find difficult in case it helps anyone else reading who thinks we all find it easy.

At the end of the day, although I have found this at times difficult, I have let go of two thirds of my own possessions in the last 3-4 years.  I love lightning the load. And sometimes I briefly remember some of the things I got rid of that took me months and feel great that they are gone and out of my life.



What do you find most difficult and what strategies can/do you use to combat this?

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter anything with words on. Book, magazine, T-shirt, old bill…

Eco Tip for the Day

Don’t leave lights on in unoccupied rooms even if you are only vacating them for a few minutes.

For a full list of my eco tips so far click here

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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  1. You sound so like me, Doodle. I have a dressing table that crowds my bedroom. I took it out to the hall to be taken away but procrastinated over arranging this. Then because it was getting in the way in the hall, I took it back in to the bedroom, this time in FRONT of the wardrobe and chest of drawers. It gets in my way every day yet I keep putting off arranging for a charity to take it away. It has bad associations but also sentimental associations. It would be very useful for someone else. Yet it’s still there. It’s been months and months. I thought today ‘I’ll be glad when that’s gone!’ Like you, I will probably get so desperate to see the back of it that the other feelings won’t matter. I also asked myself ‘Why do you think you’ll regret getting rid of this when you’ve got rid of things with stronger sentimental value in the past and don’t miss them?’ Yes, the human mind is a complex thing. I had a word with myself because I find it so hard and it gets me down sometimes!

    I don’t have any particular kind of items that I take longer to declutter but one strategy is to think of the charity that’s important to me. You have helped me. Someone needs that dressing table and I’m sick of the sight of it! (‘Oh no, I’m not ready! What if I regret it?’ a little voice is saying.) I think I’ve reached the stage of desperation so it’s unlikely that I’ll be grief stricken at the loss of it. It’s a very big item to stay hanging around, unwanted.

    • Lena, I can’t tell you how glad I am to have been some help in this. I did wonder if people would think I was just a bit odd, but I see (as I secretly suspected) I am not alone.
      I could so relate to what you have written too and that little voice. I do think sometimes being so sick of the sight of something is the final push we need – it’s like that emotion becomes strong enough to override the others that are holding us back.
      After I wrote this post yesterday, I looked at the large shopping trolley of stuff I have had sitting around for * insert a period of time that is far too long*, put my shoes on and walked it 10 minutes down the road to a charity shop. Hurrah! Today another charity picked up a set of bookshelves that have been in our hall for 6 months and took them too. It was so easy in the ned…so what was that all about eh?
      The important thing is we keep finding strategies that work for us. And one of those is the encouragement of at such a place like here at 365.

      • No, you’re not the only one who is a bit odd! Part of the reason for procrastinating over that dressing table is making the phone call to have it collected by the charity. I gave it a clean so it’s ready to go. Its surface is collecting clutter unsurprisingly. I hope to ‘just do it’ like you have done because it’s likely to be easy in the end and a relief.

        • I am feeling very happy right now Lena – an old set of bookshelves has today been finally collected by a charity and I sold a large old cabinet online and it has been taken away: it’s taken at least 6 months to get this far. But they are gone and I feel good!
          I am sure you are going to make that call very soon!

          • You’re on a roll. Well done! Several months ago I finally took a bookcase to a charity shop, a bookcase that I had for years and years. So I should be able to get rid of a dressing table that takes up more room. There must be a lot more space in your house now. My dressing table must be ‘temporarily’ in front of the wardrobe for nearly 6 months now!

    • Lena – I like your question of why would I regret getting rid of this when I havent regretted getting rid of more sentimental items. Yes we survived those without major trauma and usually without a second thought, it stands to reason we will survive this!

      • Sometimes we have to have a word with ourselves! As I examine why I’m not letting go of something, other profound thoughts come to my mind like that question. Yes, it stands to reason that I’ll survive the ‘loss’ of this.

  2. I actually have been glad I’ve held onto the “decluttered” things for a while. I generally decide what I’m going to declutter and then I put it in either my donate spot or my garage sale spot. I wait until there’s some built up before I take it to donate and obviously I wait a while to have a garage sale too. Once in a blue moon I take something back out of one of the declutter spots, so keeping them around a while has been helpful.

    • Kayla – I have a pair of curling-straighteners (sounds weird but that’s exactly what they are) that have been in and out of my donate box for a year. The last attempt to donate them resulted with them being yanked from the box at the goodwill donation doorstep and have been sitting on the floor of my car for the last month. I have wavy hair – friends tell me I’m lucky, but it tends to be more wind-swept-and-interesting to steal the phrase off Billy Connelly. I have visions of controlling my hair or not having to resort to a ponytail to look so ‘wind-swept’ . Tonight I will YouTube how to use them (I gave up very easily when I first bought them) and if I can’t conquer the curls I will donate tomorrow. Hope that makes you feel better!

      • LOL Moni, it is great to hear of others taking something out again and then it just hangs around. I got rid of something yesterday I have been trying to let go of for at least 10 years I reckon, only to keep thinking I could find a use for it and I would never find another one.
        As someone with fine dead straight hair, the windswept look sounds great 😀

        Kayla – sounds like your keeping things for a while system works for you rather than driving you nuts.

  3. I find I’m getting worse and worse at getting stuff out of the house, but not due to attachment. I often work at night and sleep during daytime and somehow I’m often not in the mood to haul stuff to the charity when I do get up eventually. They also close early on saturdays and are closed on sundays, which are probably the days when the main decluttering takes place around here. Also, things are heavy, so I prefer taking a little bit at a time, but then I kind of feel weird dropping by at the same charity shop almost every day with a bag… Oh well, in the end I always managed somehow to finally get the stuff out of the house.

    • That is a tough one Sanna, if places just aren’t open when you are free.
      I bet the volunteers in the shop don’t think you’re weird doing daily drops off though: if it stuff that sells, that’s what they need.

  4. I have been having this problem the past year now that we are living in an apartment. When we were in a house it was so easy to schedule a pick up with the Salvation Army. I would leave everything outside the front door and they would just pick it up sometime in the morning. I usually would never see or even hear them. Now we need to bring our donated things down the elevator to the car and then drive them to the charity. Those extra steps mean that things tend to stay around a lot longer. Presently there are four boxes of donate items in my guest bathroom. I did manage to bring 3 bags of clothes down to the car last week. They are all still in the car. I find that the longer things sit under my nose the more I waffle about whether to keep them or donate them. For me it is better to get them out of sight. Thankfully, I can’t think of anything I’ve regretted donating in the past!

    • Claire – would it help to schedule into your diary a specific day/time to take your car load of stuff to the charity shop?

      • Hi Doodle! Yes, I do actually write it on my calendar but more often than not it gets pushed back until we have to get the stuff out of the guest bathroom for company. I pretty much need my husband to help me with the boxes and he’s not quite as enthusiastic about getting the stuff out as I am. 🙂 So we tend to let a bunch of weekends go by until we absolutely have to get them out. If I can get most of into the car ahead of time that is half the battle. Plus then it is out of sight. Maybe I’ll see if I can get a couple down to the car on my own this week. If there is only one or two for him to move that would probably make it a lot less “painful” of a chore for him. 😉

        • Well I’m a fine one to talk and make suggestions, lol.
          Sometimes having visitors is the best incentive!

          • Doodle ~ I am very happy to report that we actually “got the stuff out of the house” today! I brought the majority of it down to the car myself and my husband took the few heavy things down today. Then we drove them over to the Salvation Army! It was a whole SUV full of misc. things including a large filing cabinet AND a set of 24 place settings of gold plated cutlery I’d been debating over for months. Hurray! I just got it out of there and I don’t regret it. I hated having to hand wash all of those at the end of every holiday meal. Never again! My guest bathroom is usable once again. Thanks for the boost of motivation, it came just at the right time for me!

  5. Doodle,
    Great post. I think at one time or another we have all experienced second thoughts over things we are donating. If the items were that important to us, they wouldn’t have even been considered for donation. The mere fact that they made it into the donation box tells you that it is definitely time for them to go. As I had mentioned in previous comments, I also feel fabulous knowing that what used to serve me but no longer does will be a blessing to someone that really needs it.

    • Thanks Kimberley – that is what is annoying – as you say, if it has made in to the box, I know I am ready for it to go. It’s this strangling little voice that seems to paralyse the rational decision. But the good thing is,never forever… everything does go in the end.

      Someone else getting use out of it/a good cause raising money is a great incentive though I agree.

  6. I call this the “The Declutter Dither”

  7. I find it difficult when the load is too large or heavy — once it’s a box or bag of items to donate, I won’t take it in one go. Fortunately for me, the Goodwill shop is half a block from the public library and both are within walking distance of the house. When I head out to go to the library (I read a lot so I go regularly) I take along a donation item if there’s one parked by the front door; books and media go to the library and the rest to Goodwill. If I got into a decluttering whirl and have a bunch of items piled up, I still take just an item or two at a time. Every once in a while, having an item sit around means I second-guess my choice and I admit it back into the living space because it has had time to sit around, but it’s rare enough that this slow method works for me. About two years ago I had a rule that if I went to the library, I *had* to take a donation, too. I had no time to second-guess anything and lots of stuff left the house those 18 months.

    • I love all these different strategies people have for getting stuff out of the house. the secret remains finding some that works for you. So the more ideas people post, I am sure the more it will help others reading.

  8. I have the same problem. Even boxed, it’s just getting it OUT. Usually this is because of my schedule (which clashes with normal daytime charity shop hours) but sometimes it is more that I regret not SELLING the items, especially if it is not simply a box of oddments, but something of reasonable value. It takes an awful lot of time and phone calls and photos online and strangers coming to your home to look at items for sale — none of which are desirable.

    I found a solutions for this. I learned to find specific charities needing specific things.

    For example:

    I’ve donated surplus audio gear, in good condition, good quality and of fair value, to the community radio station. My husband and I both former deejays so we have a LOT of these items. I have also donated a few stage monitors, an amplifier and some cables and other stage gear to a fairly talented but “starving artist” young college-student band who will make use of it.

    A community garden welcomed an assortment of pots and garden supplies I no longer use.

    Habitat for Humanity gratefully accepts power tools.

    Unwanted antiques, sets of china, decorative items and other quality home decor items in good condition often can be donated to a silent auction for a charity.

    Homeless shelters sometimes ask for old camping gear, such as sleeping bags and air mattresses, as they often do not have enough beds.

    Unwanted backpacking gear in good condition is always welcomed by outdoor-oriented youth groups. This was a hard one for me. My husband and I used to be a bit of “gear-heads.” We had a closetful of ultralight backpacking gear: tents, stoves, backpacks, etc. I chose ONE set of gear to keep, and donated the rest.

    If you give a little thought to what sort of organization might be able to make good, specific use of an item you might rather sell, you WILL think of something.

    • Excellent post thanks Dez (sorry, curly writing means I can’t be sure I have your name right.)
      I have found the same – it really helps break down your stuff into different sections to meet specific needs like this, if you are struggling with just ‘giving away.’ It makes your decision feel twice as valuable.

  9. Doodle, I think the hardest thing for me is also getting it out of the house. With it so hot here I tend to let things accumulate until I have enough to make it worthwhile. Then I add the delivery of it to my “to do on the next trip” list. I try to make each trip out of the house count so I don’t have to make very many.

  10. One thing that helps me get items out of the house is to put it in bag or box that I cannot see into again, then take it immediately to my car. No matter how many or how few items I have, I swing through the donate lane at the thrift store regularly because I will soon need the space for groceries.

    Thank you Dez for the idea about donating china sets to a charity auction!

  11. Doodle – when I first came to 365 Less Things and I’d read the daily mini missions, I thought it meant the item had to leave the house on each day, so I was running around like an Energizer Bunny getting things out of the house and onto it’s next destination. I couldn’t figure out how the other 365ers were so calm about their daily mini mission.

    • Talk about pressure and feeling inadequate!

    • LOL, you’d think that would have got you immune to any difficulties re getting stuff out of the house though!

      • Lena C & Doodle – it’s just a classic case of me getting all gung-ho and diving in with out reading the instructions. On the upside, I quickly decided I felt stupid turning up at Goodwill with one t-shirt or dropping one book to the charity book sale collection spot, so I’d ramp it up by grabbing a bags worth to drop off. So I made a lot of inroads quite quickly and the other silver lining was it addressed my impulse shopping at the same time. So I fondly remember it as the ‘boot camp’ era of my decluttering journey.

  12. This post inspired me – I had a few bags and boxes of stuff to get out the door and I dropped them off at Goodwill yesterday. Ahhh, that feels better!

  13. I’ve decided to start using the charity bins less than ten minutes walk away from my home instead of waiting until I’m near the charity of my choice in town. The charity bins are at the supermarket where I go regularly. So I can spread my clutter to different charities. I can put one item in at a time without being embarrassed! I put a pair of shoes in this week. I felt so proud working out how to work the bin! It’s like a shute. At least three books can go tomorrow. That will get items out more quickly.

    • Doodle, you will be so proud of me. I’ve finally donated the dressing table today as well as a set of shelves. I only noticed yesterday that the mirror can come off the dressing table and so does the things that the mirror slots in to. All that time I could’ve been using the mirror as a full length mirror. But I still am glad that I decluttered it and the shelves. The (dismantled) shelves have been in and out of the hall too.

  14. Okay, got a bit huffy with myself this morning and just junked some more junk.

    When I moved in here the former owner had left lots of stuff here that I’m still throwing out (donating what’s still good and throwing the rest). There was a pile of broken screen windows in the basement (very bad shape) that I’ve finally thrown out. Now that feels good.

    Funny not sure why I waited so long to do that. And I’ve just gone through another cupboard that I don’t often go in and found some more stuff for the charity shop. Nice.

    • It can feel overwhelming dealing with what people leave behind.. But it does feel good when it’s gone.