Some tips on how to prioritize all the stuff in your life

Fishing poles, reels, yardsticks. It's tough to decide what to keep and what to get rid of.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Should you save it? Deciding what to buy, what to keep and what to toss “takes a lot of mental energy,” says Gretchen Rubin, author of “Happier at Home.” Here are some questions to ask yourself, and some tips for dealing with too much stuff.

1. Is it truly meaningful? Just because you picked up a seashell in France doesn’t necessarily mean it reminds you of the trip there, Rubin says.


2. Is it containable? Consider a thimble to remind you of a grandparent rather than, say, a table.

3. Is it part of a collection? When people amass a bunch of something, such as coins or Disney figurines, they start to seem more valuable. Don’t be fooled. That still may not make them worth keeping.

4. “Why not surround yourself with just that which gives you pleasure? With love and beauty and things that fill your heart and mind,” says professional organizer Regina Lark. “Like clothing. Keep what makes you look hot. But if it’s only OK, why keep it?”

5. When an object appeals to you, says “Unstuff Your Life” author Andrew Mellen, ask yourself what you’ll do with it, where it will live, whether it will replace something else. And sometimes you might conclude that “it’s enough that it exists in the world” and you needn’t own it.


6. Was it a gift? A freebie? Just because someone gave it to you doesn’t mean you have to keep it, Rubin says.

7. “Anything that deepens your relationships with other people” is worth owning, Rubin says. That could be an origami set to use with your child or fancy kitchen knives used to prepare dinner parties.


8. Worried that you have too much stuff or care too much about it? Worried that you might be suffering from “affluenza”? There are resources if you want to pledge to buy nothing new for a year except consumables (



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