How to: Dealing with other people’s stuff

lots of family photosQuite a few people have mentioned to me in recent weeks that they struggle to deal with the stuff that other people have given to them and they no longer need or want the stuff.

This stuff comes in a few forms:

  1. given to you as a gift,
  2. given to you to store (so it still belongs to someone else),
  3. given to you because it needs sorting (perhaps family history like photos, family furniture).

Dealing with this type of stuff can be emotional, confusing and overwhelming so I turned to my professional organising colleagues to ask for their expert tips on how to get the job kick-started.

5 tips to deal with other people’s stuff:

 1. Dont accept the goods in the first place – If you know about the goods in advance ask for a photo of the goods before it turns up at your doorstep. Negotiate with the person, and only accept the items you want (donate the rest – see Tip 5 below).

2. Follow a system to keep you on track –  The process of sorting through other people’s stuff is much the same as sorting through your own. The Space and Time Organising S.Y.S.T.E.M will give you 6 clear steps to follow to kick-start your decluttering.

 3. Set a deadline – If the goods are already at your home and they belong to someone else set a deadline for the person to come and collect or go through their stuff.

Leah Fry of Make Life Easier Organising says “How I suggest clients deal with other people’s stuff depends if they are holding it for someone else, or if it now belongs to them. If they are holding it, I’d say remember that I am holding these, and I am doing a clear out and want things gone by X date. To give incentive, you could say, I have booked a skip/council collection, and anything still here by then will be going”.

Chantal Imach of Simply In Order says “If they keep their kid’s stuff set a deadline etc and tell them that they are not a storage facility for their kids. Maybe a bit harsh but it gets them thinking”.

gifts you no longer want4. Give yourself permission to let go – If you have been given the goods and you no longer want them Organising Consultant Marie Kondo in her book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying” says ” the true purpose of a present is to be received. Thank it for the joy it gave you when you first received it…”

Karen White of The Sorting Angel says “I remind people that their house is not a museum and we often talk about whether they are trying to hang on to the person by keeping their stuff.
I have asked clients to think about what the previous owner would say if they saw that you were still keeping their old things when they are no longer useful or in good condition.
It is OK to pass items on and to still appreciate the gifting of items to you if you don’t need or like them
These gifts have still served the purpose they had to cross your path.”

Sue Ryan from Organised by Sue suggests “Even if something has been gifted or inherited then let them (the gifter) know you are decluttering and ask if they would like them back. They may want to gift it to someone else.”

5. Donation resources – There are many amazing charties  and agencies that require goods for less fortunate people. It is often easier to let go of stuff if you know it is going to a good home:

  1. Mrs Secondhand (furniture and other household goods)  – Mrs Secondhand pay fair prices and can pack/pick up your goods. No job too big or small. Please note they DO NOT take: whitegoods/TV’s/Tools/Camping or gym equipment.
  2. Wear for Success  (interview ready clothing)– this amazing not-for-profit (no government funding) are always need good quality work-appropriate clothing for their clients to look the part when attending job interviews. It should be clean and something you would be happy to wear.
  3. Asylum Seeker Resources Centre (food, clothing, household goods) – Help support and empower refugees and people seeking asylum around Australia by making a tax deductible donation that will support the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in our area of greatest need. They are always seeking donations of food and occasionally clothing.
  4. St.Kilda Mums (baby goods and nursery equipment) – This incredible volunteer-powered charity based in St Kilda, Melbourne. They rehome new and pre-loved baby goods and nursery equipment to families in need. S.Kilda Mums believe that by reusing and recycling much-loved babies’ and children’s gear, we not only share the joy of motherhood with each other, but we save the earth’s precious resources too.

The above tips and donation resources will give you some inspiration to let go of other people’s stuff. Do you have a strategy of letting go that you could share with us below?

If you need help sorting through other people’s stuff contact me here for a free 20 minute phone consultation to discuss strategies on how we can work together to free up your space.

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