I’m no stranger to purging possessions. As a teenager I regularly ravaged my bedroom, filling bin bags to the brim with my toys and trinkets. The room would be virtually empty by the time I finished, leaving my parents to wonder if I had any sentiment at all. The truth is I’ve never held much emotional connection to physical things.
I recently embarked on another decluttering mission, striving to move our family of four closer to a minimalist lifestyle. Before long I had identified piles of unwanted items, which I temporarily banished to my garage. Stuffing it all into bin bags wasn’t an option any more, partly due to my morals, but mostly because this stuff was worth something.
Gumtree, Facebook and eBay became my new haunts and the thrill of selling was intoxicating. I relished the dopamine hit every time my phone made the “ker-ching” sound and I quickly shifted several items for good money. But it wasn’t to last - sales slowed down and the pile of items in my garage seemed endless. Eventually my de-cluttering energy faded and the task was left undone. My goal of a bare, minimalist home went unrealised, while my garage was chocked with stuff I didn’t want any more. Disaster.
My mistake was overvaluing clutter and undervaluing my time. Selling something on eBay took over half an hour by the time I photographed and listed the item, then packaged it and posted it. Facebook and Gumtree were probably worse, thanks to the endless messages and no-shows that accompanied every sale. If I put in all that effort to sell something for £5 then I was earning less than £10 an hour.
No wonder I was losing my mojo; I had given myself a Sisyphean task that paid minimum wage. I needed to accept my clutter was a sunk cost that no amount of eBay-ing could undo. If my goal was a clean and tidy minimalist existence, then every day I spent bleeding cash from my past mistakes was a day wasted.
Going forward I will only sell items that will attract at least £20. Everything else will be donated, in one way or another. I’ve found charities, such as British Heart Foundation and Emmaus, that accept boxes filled with donated items; batch donating is an efficient way to declutter responsibly. Everything else will go on Freecycle, where I’m yet to find anything that someone won’t collect for free.
In summary - if you have a big decluttering task ahead of you, donation will be your salvation.