What do you get when a self-proclaimed clutter bug writes about decluttering? If that clutter bug is fed up with clutter, you’ll get an article about the changes they hope to make. If that clutter bug does not want to make any changes, you’ll get an article like this: Decluttering is fine but we shouldn’t throw away our history.
Mary Kenny shares her thoughts in this article in the Belfast Telegraph. She is a self-proclaimed clutter bug and says that she would be “the enemy for Ms. Kondo,” (referring to Marie Kondo, author of two books on the topic of decluttering.)
Mary is particularly concerned about throwing away paper clutter, as she fears that we may be throwing away our history when we toss those old letters and the like in the trash.
This is a common fear, so lets take a look at it.
In my life, pre-decluttering, paper clutter was my worst offender, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. I had piles of mail, notes, reminders, school papers, and more. I had old bills and statements filed away and many piled up waiting to be filed. When we talk about paper clutter, most if it really can get tossed in the trash. If you run a home business, you may need to keep some records if they aren’t available online, but for most of us, we can access our bills and statements online should the need every arise and can therefore toss them as soon as we review them and take action on them. Once you rid yourself of the need to store these papers, it’s easier to stay clutter free since it’s much easier to toss items in the trash than to file them.
It’s rare that we hold documents of any historical significance, which is the main topic of Mary’s article. Few people write letters anymore. If you have some historical family letters, then you are welcome to keep them. If it brings you joy to keep track of family history, then it’s worth while to keep those items.
If, however, you have no interest in being the family historian and record keeper, then you are free to declutter those items. Be sure to check with other’s in your extended family before tossing them, but if no-one else wants them, don’t feel obligated to keep them. A sense of obligation and/or guilt is no reason to keep items that are cluttering your home.
Same goes for old school papers. Your 2nd grade report card holds no historical significance even if you are super famous. My mother brought me a bag full of old school papers, and after she left, I skimmed through them and tossed them all in the trash.
Ditto for photos. You don’t need every photo ever taken. My mother brought over a bag of photos. I looked through them, quickly sorted out the memory-type photos from random photos of mountains, trees, who-knows-what, and who-the-heck-is-that. I kept some and discarded the majority.
You don’t have to keep it all. Your home is not the Museum-of-You, and you don’t have to be the curator of your entire family history. Also, for what it’s worth, I don’t recommend taking decluttering advice from a clutter bug. 🙂
Photo credit: maid delivers letter