Are you as clutter-free as you think you are? There are some insidious kinds of clutter that you may not have considered. This sneaky stuff sometimes hides under my radar. Is it hiding under your radar too? I would like you to think about old collections, projects, hobbies, and decorations—things you may know you have and stuff you don’t even realize you still own.

These sneaky items accumulate together, stick together, and hang around in a household too long. Maybe it is a collection of teacups, an unfinished cross-stitch project, or an old woodworking hobby. Consider hobbies or projects you intend to get back to “some day.” Really look at the pictures on the walls or groupings of “decorative” knick-knacks that nobody notices any more. We can become “blind” to some of these items that we have looked at for so long.

Some of this stuff has been around for a long time and become so much a part of your home that you no longer even see it. Do these items still support who you are? Or, does this stuff clog your space and vaguely disturb your peace of mind? Maybe some of it even holds you back. Your space and your life could have room in it for you to change and to grow.

It is hard to “see” this stuff and even harder to part with it. Give these thoughts a try:

Walk through your rooms with the eyes of a stranger. Pretend you are a real estate agent preparing to market your space. Or, take a “look” by taking photos of your rooms and then review them. What things look tired, dated, out-of-place, or downright boring?

Next, when you look at hobbies on hold and old collections, try to determine the last time you worked on them or really enjoyed them. Chances are it was when you first began them rather than recently. How do you feel about this stuff now? Does it excite you or make you feel a bit guilty?

My cookbook collection holds me back. I own too many cookbooks. I really enjoy looking at new cookbooks at bookstores, but I don’t purchase them because I know I already have too many. I want to change what I cook and how I cook. I want to cook with more contemporary flavors. It is time to donate cookbooks I rarely use and create some open shelf space.

Finally, how does your collection make you feel? Has your taste in art changed but you don’t have any open wall space for something new? Do you find that you don’t even remember who gave you some of these things? Where did the knick-knacks on the end table come from? Maybe it is time to sort through these items. Keep a few favorites and pass on the rest. Gasp! Yes, you can do it!

Now here is the rub. We may have become oblivious to or dissatisfied with this stuff, but we are also still attached to it! To move forward, you can ease the pain of separation by finding good homes for these things. Carefully determine where this stuff would serve someone else by considering these thoughts:

A friend who was an eager expectant grandma was delighted to take a partially completed sewing project off my hands. It was a soft fabric baby book that she was happy to finish sewing for her future grandchild. My “babies” had grown so fast that I hadn’t had a chance to complete it, but I couldn’t just toss it. I had lots of time, effort, and, more recently, guilt invested in it!

Maybe you have a friend who does the hobby that no longer interests you. You could pass on your photo album stickers or your card making stamps, or anything else. You could make his or her day! Or, consider selling these things at a garage sale. Obviously, whoever buys your materials plans to finish the project or use the materials.

Collections or treasures can be hard to part with because they are still “perfectly good.” Maybe you could give your family some of their “inheritance” now while you are still around to see the smiles and pleasure you can give.

Notice which items that family members who do not live with you enjoy when they come to your home. Maybe you could find a niece who is starting her teacup collection and give her some of yours for the next few Christmas’s and birthdays.

If no one comes to mind, who would appreciate what you have?  You might be able to sell items on the Internet. Investigate or You could even finance a new interest or vacation from the proceeds.

Be clear about why you are weeding this stuff out. Be careful. I try not to part with hobbies or treasures just to rush out and buy more. The purpose is to create space for change and growth. Don’t be afraid of open space. Filled up space is stagnant. Open space has potential. Make clutter-clearing choices to create potential for yourself and your family. You too can zap hidden clutter this fall!

Barbara Tako is a clutter clearing motivational speaker and author of Clutter Clearing Choices: Clear Clutter, Organize Your Home, & Reclaim Your Life (O Books, 2010), a seasonally organized book of clutter clearing tips that readers can pick and choose from to fit their personal style and needs.

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Author News: I am finishing up my second book for the publisher. The title has changed to Cancer Survivorship: We’ll Get You Through This. I decided to broaden the book to apply to any type of cancer after my recent second cancer diagnosis–melanoma (caught early and with a good prognosis).