How Do You Know When You Have Too Much Crap?

Posted By on May 31, 2011

Last week, I enjoyed a Lifehacker post called “How to De-Crapify Your House” which offered some great tips on clearing clutter. But the article made me wonder one question. How do you know if you have too much crap to begin with?

Here are some telltale signs that you do:

You have magazines, newspapers and books that you haven’t read. If you can’t keep up with reading the magazines and newspapers you subscribe to, it’s time to cull the herd. Cancel subscriptions to those things that no longer serve you.

One way to work more reading into your life is to read a little before bedtime. Studies show that our sleep is disrupted if we look at TV and computer screens before bedtime. Instead read a magazine or a book before falling asleep.

Yes, you can get rid of books. Growing up, I believed you never got rid of books. As an adult with my own apartment, I realized books take up a bunch of space. Plus I was keeping books that I didn’t like only because it was a book. So that began a regular run to sell books. Yes, you don’t get much money for them, but at least you have some coins for lunch and more space on your shelves.

Book resale shops do take some magazines, and you can also donate magazines and books to schools or hospitals. Check with their guidelines first. Otherwise, you can recycle newspapers and magazines.

You want to find hope in a jar. I’ve seen it time and time again with some of my clients. As we age, we start looking at those jars of moisturizers and serums as the Fountain of Youth. Some people chase the “perfect” moisturizer, foundation or hairspray so they keep buying more and more products, hoping for the miracle.

This can lead to a bunch of stuff in your bathroom. Ditch the old products that have changed in texture, color and smell. With the rest, use it all up before buying anything new. Yes, you can do it.

You dread dusting the tchotchkes. If you have too much stuff that you hate dusting, that’s a sign you have too much crap, and it’s time to take the stuff down a notch. Ask yourself: Do you love it? Does it bring you happiness and joy? Does it conjure up bad feelings?

If you don’t love it and it creates bad feelings, those are sure signs for it to go away.

You shop until you drop and can’t pass up a bargain. Over-shopping leads to too much stuff. Just because something is a bargain doesn’t mean you should buy it. A bargain is not a bargain when it becomes clutter and you never use it or wear it. If you never eat fondue, then buying a fondue pot may not be the best way to spend your money.

Ask yourself: Will I use it? Do I need it? Will I wear it? What will I wear it with? When I buy clothing, it has to go with two to three out of the four colors in my wardrobe: black, blue denim (jeans), brown and gray. If it doesn’t go with at least two of those colors, I don’t buy it.

If you can still take it back, do it. If you can’t return it, sell it or donate it. Ask yourself: What drives me to shopping? Why do I shop? What am I trying to replace or accomplish? Do I get a high off finding a bargain? Am I exchanging over-shopping for another addictive behavior? You may need to talk to a therapist about these kinds of issues.

So if you have too much crap in your house, clear the decks and create some breathing room. You’ll be glad you did.



2 Responses to “How Do You Know When You Have Too Much Crap?”

  1. Mary says:

    How do I know when I have too much stuff?
    when I end up with two pairs of the exact same shoes.

  2. Ellen Delap says:

    Love creating an awareness of “crap” to start with. It also starts with draining your energy away, your stuff is owning you, and you are not up to putting stuff away, just bringing it in. It gets overwhelming overnight it seems like! When it does, know that it is time to act!