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  • Writer's pictureLauren Hass

Two Clutter Categories Precluding You From Living for Today

It's been a very difficult few weeks -- I'm seeing, hearing and reading about people and actions that are scary and sad and very disheartening.

What's one thing we can learn from feeling this way? That it's important to appreciate today. To focus on the present. To find the glimmers.*

But how does this relate to your clutter?

Decluttering guru Peter Walsh recently explained that all clutter falls into two broad categories: "Memory Clutter" and "I Might Need it One Day Clutter."

Memory Clutter consists of items from the past. It might be...

An unwanted birthday gift from someone special.

A souvenir from an old trip.

Photos of people you never knew.

An item you inherited from a family member.

Equipment from a sport you no longer play

Walsh describes the fear you may have when considering purging these items. "If you let go of these, you will lose the memory, or worse, dishonor the memory of the person who gave them to you."

'I Might Need it One Day' Clutter consists of items for an imagine future. It might be...

Old furniture you've moved to the attic "just in case."

A barely started art project you haven't touched in years

A fancy appliance you received years ago that is still in the box.

Clothes that fit the body you aspire to once again have

Walsh calls these items the "stuff you hold onto for a whole lot of imagined futures."


I have these conversations with people all the time. We talk about whether the item in question is something you currently love, use or need and we go back to your initial goal for the space and determine if keeping these items fits with that goal. If the clutter is everywhere and preventing you from living your life today productively and happily; if your space cannot physically fit your past, your present and your future; if your past is holding you back and your imagined future is making you feel guilty...then perhaps saying goodbye to the item is the right decision. Only you can make that decision.

This doesn't mean you can't save your memories or keep things for the future, but rather that these types of clutter shouldn't take up so much space that being able to focus on today is crowded out.

Walsh states, "When being trapped in the past or being preoccupied with the future is your focus constantly, it stops you from doing the most important thing you have to do in life, which is living now."

*Glimmers: "Branded as the opposite of triggers, Deb Dana, LCSW, psychotherapist and author, coined the term glimmers, and says that they’re tiny micro-moments of joy that allow us to feel calm and give us a sense of inner peace." (Refinery29)

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