When it comes to decluttering, one of the biggest questions is, “will (my spouse/my kids/my sister/my best friend) want this someday?” It’s a natural question, as most people don’t want to throw something away that somebody else would be happy to have – especially if that “somebody else” is a relative or close friend.

There are two ditches you can fall into here. The first is assuming that somebody will want something when they won’t, and the other is assuming somebody won’t want something when they will. In an ideal world, you’d have perfect knowledge of the future and would never make any mistakes – but that’s not the world we live in.

Having a conversation about it is a good solution sometimes, but if you tried to have a conversation about everything leaving your house you’d probably be on the phone 24/7.

So how do you decide? We’d propose that there are two basic categories of items.

If the item is unlikely to be sentimental and isn’t hard to replace, don’t stress about it – make the decision and get rid of it. Your kids aren’t going to want your box of vintage phone chargers, unless maybe they plan to start a vintage cellular phone museum and want some initial pieces for their collection. Pile this stuff up and either drop it off at the local thrift shop, drop it off at the local e-waste recycler, or call your friendly neighborhood junk removal company to get it out of your house. Trust us – there’s likely enough of this stuff to make a huge dent in your clutter!

If the item is either sentimental or irreplaceable, this is the place where a conversation – and erring on the side of caution – makes sense. Your old high school yearbooks. Boxes of old photos. Great-grandma’s china. If you throw these things away, they’re gone. If your kids, relatives, or the other logical people that might want them are old enough, have a conversation with them about whether or not they’d like to have them. In fact, if you’re going through an attic full of old stuff, invite the possibly-interested people over to help. You might get some decluttering assistance in the bargain!

It’s important to remember that no matter what the outcome of these conversations is, it’s never your job to store things for people. With limited exceptions (your 14-year-old wants your old yearbooks, but obviously doesn’t have a place of their own yet!), if somebody wants something they should be willing to either come get it or take delivery of it in a reasonable timeframe. You’re not offering storage services for “someday/maybe” items – you’re getting things out of your house.

And if you get it wrong occasionally, that’s part of being human. Remember, this is your stuff. It’s your job to make decisions about it. Don’t let indecision trap you under a mound of clutter – do what it takes to get clear, get free, and live your life!

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