Have you ever been randomly reminded of something from years ago and instantly be transported back to a different time and place? That happened to me the other day. One minute I was cleaning my garage, getting rid of “stuff” and the next I was staring down a swollen river with my horse drawn wagon as storm clouds threatened. My traveling companions were sick with typhoid, cholera and dysentery. I knew the trip wasn’t going any better than the prior ones. Sure enough just like all of the other times, it ultimately ended the same way “Everyone in your party has died. Many wagons fail to make it all the way to Oregon.”

Of course I didn’t really have a horse drawn wagon or that pitiful fate. It was only a virtual team in the game The Oregon Trail. While I never did navigate successfully all the way to Oregon, it didn’t take me long to realize that what you carried with you impacted how successfully you traveled.

If you never played the Oregon Trail, each game started with the strategic choices of what supplies you thought could help you make it from Missouri all the way to Oregon traveling as they did in the mid-1800s. The amount of food, ammunition, and entertainment (via items such a banjo), impacted the success, or in my case the lack of success of your journey.

Staring down the clutter in my garage, I realized that while times have changed, in many ways it’s still the same. What we pack, what we carry impacts how we make our journey. What do we allow ourselves to be burdened with that we could do without? My efforts to tame my clutter resulted in a car full of donations and a trashcan full of “history.” Letting go of the things that had collected dust for more years than I care to share has been remarkably freeing. It’s easy to find things that we can get rid of and never miss.

5 Things You Can Get Rid of and Never Miss

1. Books that you won’t read again.

There are some books that have sentimental value. Others you know you will read, re-read or use as a reference in the future. Then there are the other books on your shelf. If you’re like me, you’ve got more than a few books in the last category. Why do we keep those? Free up the space and let go of books that are just collecting dust. This weekend I took 3 boxes of books to Good Will. Now, it’s your turn. Why not lighten your load by blessing someone else. Donate your books to the charity of your choice.

2. Unmatched lids.

You haven’t found the container for that round green lid in your cupboard despite looking for it for months. Free your cabinets of unwanted clutter and ditch the unmatched lids! Recycle them and give them life outside of your kitchen. Many companies have developed sustainable products that turn one man’s trash into another’s treasure.

3. Makeup or medication past its time.

The makeup and other contents of your medicine cabinet have expiration dates. When was the last time you read the labels and tossed the ones passed their prime? Mascara has a shelf life of 3 months and sunscreen just six months. Not sure what’s too old? No worries, checkout some guidelines online.

4. Shoes that are uncomfortable or don’t really fit.

We like how they looked in the store. They may be super quite. We’ve tried to convince ourselves they weren’t that uncomfortable. Or maybe we wore them once to a cousin’s wedding but they haven’t seen the light of day since. Stop letting them take up real-estate in your closet. If they’re in good shape donate them if not, toss them. Stop keeping things you won’t wear again.

5. Electronics you don’t use.

Do you have old cell phones, old charging cords, headphones, a spare blender, or other electronics tucked in a drawer, cabinet or closet that you can’t even remember the last time you used it? Let it go. Most electronics can be recycled. And, your old cell phones can be donated to help someone trying to break free from domestic abuse. It’s a win-win –  free up space from clutter and you could help save a life!

You don’t have to stop with these five ideas. Extend your letting go to half completed craft projects, clothes that don’t fit, appliances you don’t use or old knickknacks or souvenirs that lost their sentimental value years ago.  You’ll be amazed how you feel lighter, your house feels lighter, and you don’t miss the “stuff.”

Looking for ways to help you let go and declutter?

Check out this post: 10 Tips for Taming Your Clutter.

Have you found spring cleaning equally freeing? Have you found tricks to de-clutter or get rid of things you won’t miss? Or, has this inspired you? I’d love to hear from you.

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