A Little Lesson in Letting Go of Stuff — The 2019 January Cure

The January Cure is all about refreshing and organizing your home for 2019. We tackle one assignment each weekday throughout the entire month. It’s not too late to sign up, and you can visit the Cure page to catch up with the assignments so far.

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Sometimes all you need to declutter is a fresh perspective.

Once your things are yours, letting go of them can feel like a loss. A loss of money or preparedness or potential. And those are very real feelings. But whenever you can loosen your hold on your stuff, you’re also gaining a lot of intangible benefits: More space—mentally and physically, as in the case of a too-tight pair of jeans that steal a part of both your dresser drawer and your self-esteem. More clarity to decide what to buy and keep in the future. More attention for the things you do own and use and care for and love.

I hope you can recognize that decluttering your things isn’t a net loss. Every thing you can eliminate from your life and your home leaves a bit of magic in the air where it was placed.

Today’s Cure assignment is a lesson in letting go of some things, and also appreciating the things we choose to keep.

Today’s Assignment: Empty the outbox and reset the living room.

Earlier in the month, I had you strip your living room down to its bare bones, minimalist basics. Today we’re going to reconsider the things you set aside from that refresh, then empty the outbox you’ve been using all month.

First, look around your “lightened” living room and think about all of the things you removed from the space earlier in the month. If you feel like you miss anything that warmed up, beautified or otherwise improved your enjoyment of the space, go grab it from where you stored it and bring it right back. Feel good about knowing that everything in your living room is something you intentionally chose to be there. Anything you don’t want to layer back into the living room can be put to use in another room, or placed into your outbox.

Once you’ve got the living room back to where you want it to be, it’s time to get the items in your outbox out of the house.

If you remember, the idea of the outbox is to give your things an in-between place, so you can remove them from your home’s active areas and make a decision later about whether or not you need those things. Here’s the hard truth: The fact that those things are still sitting in the outbox right now—days and weeks later—means you probably can do without them.

So tonight, go through the things that have been in your outbox for a week or more and decide where to send them:

  • pass them on to friends or family
  • set out a bag for the donation center
  • put things out on the curb or community table with a “free” sign
  • list them on the Apartment Therapy Bazaar, Craigslist, eBay or Freecycle

You don’t have to get rid of your whole outbox, but don’t let this moment be a sticking point. You should feel really good about letting go of anything that you haven’t thought about in some time! Ultimately—just like the living room reset—what you choose to hang on to is more important than what you let go.

Then put your plan into action as soon as possible. Make an appointment on your calendar to drop donations off during your lunch hour, or create online listings during the commercial breaks of your show tonight. I know it’s a tough final step, but if you put this part on hold, you’re denying yourself the seriously satisfying feelings that come with truly letting go.

Throughout the day’s assignment, as you’re putting your living room back together and getting your outboxed stuff out of the house, try to remember that homes aren’t static. They’re meant to evolve and support us—whatever current version of ourselves we are.

You can use the outbox all year long to help you snap the emotional bonds you have with your things. Put things into the outbox with abandon, then clear it out later with the clarity that those things weren’t once missed while you had them in there.

Let me know how the living room reset and outbox tasks went for you! And if you feel like waxing poetic, feel free to share with the group how you’re feeling about your relationship to your stuff.

Visit the 2019 January Cure Main Page

Download the printable PDF calendar: January Cure 2019

Share your progress on Instagram: #thejanuarycure

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