Question of the Week: I know that clutter is not good for me to have in my home. My problem is that when I try to get rid of things, I just can’t bring myself to let them go. Please help me!

I completely understand where you are coming from. Most people, especially those who are sentimental, have this same problem when they go to clear their clutter. The following tips will address some common obstacles and challenges that typically come up when de-cluttering, and the best strategy I’ve found to deal with them.

Obstacle 1: ‘It was a gift’ strategy

See the item as an object, not a gift. When you are sifting through the gifts you’ve been given, ask yourself the following: “Do I love, use or need this item?” If your answer is no, depending on its condition, you can sell, donate, re-gift or discard the item. Keep your focus on the intent to declutter.

Obstacle 2: ‘I might need this later’ strategy


You need to decide exactly when “later” would be. When you see something that you don’t use and immediately think, “I may need this someday,” ask yourself, “Realistically, when will I need or use this?” If you can’t come up with a specific date, assign a date six months from now, put the items in a box, and write the date on the outside of the box. If “someday” (the date on the box) comes and you haven’t used those items, pick up the box, put it in your car and drive straight to a donation station.

Obstacle 3: ‘I paid a lot of money for this’ strategy

Accept that keeping the item will not minimize your guilt or increase the item’s value. Accept your losses and move on. If you subconsciously feel guilty for spending so much for the item and not using it, the guilt won’t help you start using it, nor will it increase its value. In fact, keeping the item perpetuates the guilt. Let it go and you will feel so much better.

Obstacle 4: ‘Someday I’ll have a garage sale and sell the item’ strategy

Try to find an alternative home for the item. I see “garage sale syndrome” often. For some people, a garage sale works, but for others it is an excuse not to act. While garage sales are a way to turn your things into cash, ask yourself if the mental, emotional and time burden is worth it for you. If letting go is difficult for you, a garage sale may be difficult. Instead, find a charity to donate your items to, then schedule a pick-up date at the soonest opportunity.

Do you have a question for Alice? If so, send it to alice@ Alice Inoue owns Happiness U, a lifestyle studio located at SALT Kaka’ako where anyone can find positive inspiration and high-level guidance. Visit