Got clutter? This simple strategy could help

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We all want a clutter-free home, but do you find it hard to let go of certain things? A new study gives a simple strategy to help.

Researchers found that people were more likely to give away unneeded items that still held sentimental value if they took a photo of them first.

The study looked at the theory that the memories attached to our possessions are what make it hard to let them go. It can be difficult for parents to give up old baby clothes or for a former athlete to donate a favorite basketball because they don’t want to give up their memories. Researchers think that these sentimental possessions help people not only remember but shape their identities. Losing the items can make people feel like they’ve lost their identity. This may be why it’s so hard to clean out the attic.

Researchers in the study advertised a holiday donation drive to 797 students in six residence halls at Penn State University. In three halls, the posters read “Don’t Pack Up Your Sentimental Clutter…Just Keep a Photo of It, Then Donate.” In the other three, the posters read “Don’t Pack Up Your Sentimental Clutter, Just Collect the Items, Then Donate.”

Both posters asked students to think about all the items they don’t use any more that carried good memories. Only one offered a suggestion to help keep those memories.

Researchers predicted that taking a photo would lessen the fear that comes with giving up the sentimental item and lead to a better likelihood of donating. They guessed right. Out of a total of 1,146 donated items, 613 came from the halls with the posters that suggested taking a photo. This equals a 15 percent increase in donated items for that group.

So the next time you find it hard to let go of something, try taking a photo of the treasured item. It might make that trip to Goodwill easier.

You can read more about this study here.

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