Reducing clutter usually involves throwing away all the stuff you don’t need—but it’s easy to feel like you need everything. Finally decide which items you should keep and which items you can live without.
It’s all too easy to let photos accumulate on your phone, including 133 photos of brunch, 17 photos of that dog at the park, 34 screenshots of memes, and, of course, a few photos of important memories you’ll want to keep forever. How do you sort it out and make sure the important stuff isn’t lost?
Save space on your phone by going through your photos every week to delete duplicates and transfer your memories to your computer. But you also don’t want to lose all of your photos to a computer crash—keep backup copies on a hard drive, and print out a few of your favorites.
How long should you keep important documents? Do you have to shred them, or can you just throw them in the trash? Do doughnut receipts count as important documents?
You should keep your tax records for 7 years just in case of an audit, but you can shred your ATM receipts as soon as you confirm them with your monthly statements. Want more details about when to store your financial documents? Check out this page for info.
Remember when you wore that awesome dress—seriously, Beyoncé-level awesome—to your best friend’s wedding? And now every time you look at the dress you have to sit down to a few minutes and enjoy the nostalgia? But…it’s not like you’ll ever wear it again. So do you keep it?
It’s tempting to keep clothes that have sentimental value, even if you’ll never wear them again. Luckily, there are plenty of photos of you at your sister’s wedding. Those photos can serve as your memento instead of the dress itself.
Everyone loves souvenirs from their trips—after all, that fake license plate keychain from Six Flags has your name on it! But you never actually use these trinkets, and after a while they can start to accumulate.
Make a shoebox your assigned spot for knick-knacks and souvenirs. Once you fill it up, you have to decide what to trade out (and toss) so everything will still fit.
That old iPhone 4 can go in the trash, right? Except your environmentalist friend said that was bad, but you can’t quite remember why…
Electronics are full of toxic metals that should never end up in a landfill. You should keep, donate, or recycle smartphones and computers. Learn how to recycle your electronics here.
Your children create tons of beautiful art—as in literal tons, and the weight of it is leaving a dent in your storage room. But your child will never be 5 again, so should you keep everything they make?
Remember that much of the joy your children receives from these drawings is in the act of creation. Once you have several hundred to choose from, it’s okay to throw some away. You could also try turning the best of your children’s art into a more permanent memento (and then you won’t feel bad about tossing the original).
Remember when you fought with your best friend over who got the last Amigo the Dog Beanie Baby? You were positive it was going to be worth a lot of money one day, but you never really cared about it. And now it’s just taking up space. Should you keep it?
There’s nothing wrong with being a collector. If you happen to love commemorative plates, you should absolutely display them and be proud. But don’t keep anything around just because you think it will be worth millions one day. Your education and your home are an investment—toys and trinkets are not. But maybe check them out on eBay first. Just in case.