Moving On: 5 Tips to Get Rid of Useless Possessions

If you ever feel like your week is going by slowly, promise people you’ll write weekly blog posts and watch the days fly by. The only remotely interesting thing I’ve accomplished since my last entry is stir up every single dust particle in my house into the air. The small size of my house makes this a particularly worrisome development; I doubt we’d have room for all these particles if it weren’t for my capacious lungs.

What’s the occasion? We’re moving again.

Considering that I’ve moved five times (and resided in three different countries) in the past eighteen years, you would assume I’d have mastered the art. In spite of this, deciding whether or not to keep things I only semi-care about remains a leading cause of stress and worry among people who are me. I’ve thus compiled the first few tips off the top of my head to help me (and maybe you) get rid of the right items.

  1. Don’t keep too many writing utensils that can run out.

I do this idiotic thing before every move in which I take out my entire storage of pens that I never use and, one by one, try them out to see if they’ve gone dry. I then return all the functioning ones back into their containers and proceed to use the same three pens I’ve been using before repeating the process the next time.

  1. Prepare yourself to discover possessions you didn’t remember you owned.

If the item doesn’t induce nostalgia, trash it. If it does, put it aside with other items that also induce nostalgia so you can go through them at once and not find yourself, hours later, inexplicably sitting on your carpet, having relived your entire childhood. Also, if you put all the nostalgic items together to go over at once, you’ll know immediately which ones are the most important.

If you can immediately see a use for the item, obviously keep it. (In my case, I wasn’t aware I owned fashionable clothing, a working dishwasher, and self-worth, all of which I’m told are very useful things to have.) If you can’t remember where it came from and didn’t know it existed up until you pulled it out, obviously trash it.

  1. Love yourself and stop trying to convince yourself you can use something in the future. (Unless your financial situation compels you to, I mean.)

If you have to persuade yourself, don’t. For six years, I kept a box of junk full of miscellaneous artsy items like ribbon pieces from gifts or Mardi Gras necklaces just in case of a project that never happened.

Think about it. If you want an artsy project to look nice, you don’t scrounge through scraps; you go and buy the supplies you need. If you want to your senior thesis to impress your professor, you don’t reincorporate sections from previous essays; you start anew. If you want your computer to run faster, you don’t reassemble it using saved parts; you buy it a nice pair of new athletic shoes.

Another example:

Me: Oh, look, it’s a Discover Science: Volcanic Eruptions book!

Me: It’s for kids.

Me: I’m majoring in business and liberal arts.

Me: But what if I want to learn about volcanoes?

  1. Don’t wait until next time to throw something away.

This applies mostly to papers, especially the school-related ones. If you can’t find a use for your freshman year AcDec Russian Economics packet, you probably won’t next year, either. I often make the excuse that I might find the information helpful if it’s ever covered in a future class, but, realistically, even it did come up, I wouldn’t turn to my old papers. I would use the class textbook.

  1. Remember that you can donate.

A lot of the time, I keep things solely because I feel it would be wasteful to trash them. So donate those items to people who might want them more. If they don’t want them either, the guilt’s on their hands.


Like my page on Facebook! I post on Sundays, usually. As in, not today, but I really tried, guys.


9 thoughts on “Moving On: 5 Tips to Get Rid of Useless Possessions

      1. Be ruthless. Get rid of broken or redundant or useless crap (i’m looking at you, old cables and routers). Sell all your books so you don’t get distracted (this was done gradually for very different reasons… broke, need beer).. But the truth is, when you reach the period of transition, sometimes aeons of accumulated weight of the past just begin to fall away. It cannot really be forced, like you can’t force someone in therapy to release their repetitive insecurities or ego trips. It sounds like your ahead of many. The kickstart mentioned below was very helpful, but there was still so much to throw away.

        No secrets I could recommend to other people… Allow shithole to develop for many years and drink many beers… take in needy roommates have party that surprise cleans while youre out to give you a kick start… have a different party and a bunch of drugs… have everyone fight and leave… needy roommates leave.. recover.. start to clean now that theres room to think .. get motivated and keep at it.

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  1. I am inspired and off to the cellar! Lots and lots of junk down there, so I may not ever come upstairs! Except to write next Sunday’s blog post like you. Thanks, Nicole. Very good points on why not to save stuff. Clare

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  2. I would almost sell my soul to move–but that doesn’t seem to be in the plan… Nonetheless, as I have a very small apartment, I periodically do a “purge”–it generally coincides with some life crisis or other, so I need the physical activity (push lever to HIGH). When I’m done, I’ve purged much of the mental/emotional crap–and things look fresh and tidy again. Donating is a Great tip!!! And finally, at nearly 64, I no longer worry that I can’t remember if I got rid of something…if I absolutely need “it”, I can probably order a new one on Amazon… I about fell over laughing about the “pens” deal–I used to do that too!! Not anymore–I had to reduce the craziness by one task/issue 🙂 By the by, I love your writing style–very refreshing 🙂

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    1. I feel that! Coinciding with a life crisis, I mean(: You’re right, too–I’m privileged enough to be able to order new things on Amazon (which is how I’ve been surviving college so far, having forgotten countless items at home)

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