Letting go is hard. Whether it’s that dress you haven’t worn since college, the knick-knacks that haven’t seen the light of day since you got them on the HomeGoods clearance shelf, or the random souvenirs you have collected over the last decade, keeping clutter is extremely easy to do. They take up valuable space and you know you should donate or sell them, and yet they live on.
If this sounds like you, I’ve discovered a trick that will make the decluttering experience much easier. Most people have difficulty getting rid of their clutter because they’re worried that they will regret it later. What if you finally start liking that vase that is no longer your style and is taking up space in the bottom of the closet? Show your brain that isn’t the case by putting it into a state of limbo that is between your house and a donation center — a box (often called “the limbo box”) that you put out of sight and mind.
It works like this: Gather all the things you would ideally like to get rid of but are nervous about chucking. Pack them into a box (or three), then put them in the basement, garage, or under your bed — wherever there’s a little extra space. Keep it stowed away for at least one month, but no longer than three, and see how often you think about or need those items while they’re on hold. I find that two months is the sweet spot for recognizing what you really haven’t missed. Nine out of 10 times, I can promise you’ll forget these items ever existed and feel lighter without them cluttering your space. This safe timeout will give your brain proof you won’t miss these items — heck, you probably won’t even remember them — making the process of letting go easier. If you’re still having a tough time tossing things after this waiting period, you can choose to stack a few of these limbo boxes in your designated space and allow yourself more time to miss them — try not to pass the one year mark — before donating them.
This gives you the grace to take your time with the decision, and when you finally acknowledge it’s okay to let go, you have all your unwanted pieces tidily stored in bins, making it easier to drop them off at a thrift store or schedule them to be picked up. For me, this simple trick takes the friction out of the arduous process of deciding what needs to go and comes with a lot less regret.