As someone who makes his living out of helping folks declutter their crippling excess of stuff, I know full well that quite often the pendulum swings too far in the other direction.

I remember once cautioning a woman from throwing out too many of her keepsakes and she responded by saying “Well isn’t that what I’m SUPPOSED to be doing?” No.

Getting organized is about taking the less important stuff out of the way so that you can get to the most important stuff.   So don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!

That’s easier said than done with clutter.  The trick is to always ask WHY you are keeping something. This may sound like a challenge to toss things.  It’s not.

You can keep the same items for several different reasons.  When you look at the reasons WHY you keep something, it takes you to WHERE it should go.

For example, let’s look at books.  If they are new, they should go to a prominent spot, possibly eye level on a shelf.  If they represent material that you don’t intend to reread but you might want to reference, they should go to a reference shelf.  If they are in decent condition, but you’re never going to look at them again, they should be donated or sold.  If you are keeping it purely for sentimental reasons, keep it with keepsakes, more remotely. Bad condition, no attachment? Toss ’em!

Before reviewing your excess clutter, I recommend having some boxes ready with some simple labels indicating all the different destinations your stuff needs to go.  If you just go in with a trash bag, you have nowhere else to put less valuable stuff and that may well lead to regrets.  Regrets about throwing away too much tends to discourage future purging.

On the other hand, when you look at WHY you keep something, you feel better about what you keep and where you keep it, you will free up more space, and you will be more likely to welcome the next round of editing.