In my quest to get my home more organized, someone once commented to me that I simply have too much stuff. Inwardly, I was slightly offended at the comment, because for one--I really like my stuff, and two, that's a subjective statement: who defines what constitutes "too much"? All the stuff I've collected over the years is in my home for a reason. It either has meaning to me, or it serves a purpose.
As I work to improve my home management, I realize now this person was...uggghh...right. It is so much easier to clean when surfaces are clear, not dotted with special bud vases, picture frames, decorative candles and the like. (Of course they look pretty, and there's nothing wrong with decorating a surface nicely. It just takes longer to clean). It is so much easier to pick up all the toys that have been dumped out of the toy bins when there are five rather than fifty (or five hundred, for goodness sakes!). The fewer clothes one has, the fewer that need to be washed, folded and put away. (I know this point is subject to arguing, because one may need to wash more, but the total volume is still less.). It takes less time to iron two shirts than 20.
The bottom line is--the more stuff you have, the more places you have to find to store the stuff, and the more you have to manage, and the more it clutters up your time and life.
So I'm starting to recklessly reduce the amount of stuff we own. And you know what? We're doing fine. I really don't miss anything I've donated (except for a small appetizer size Crock-Pot, but I never used it, so funny I should wish I still had it "just in case").
The second step after reducing inventory is continue to reuse what you already have. You'll save money and space. While it feels good in the short term to treat oneself to new clothes, towels, body lotions and such, the problem is finding a spot for the new stuff. My closet really can't take anymore. The shelving system that holds our linens can't hold anymore. The problem is not that I need more storage space; I need to get rid of stuff to fit the storage I currently have.
Finally, when parting with some excess "stuff," recycle it. While hanging onto it for a garage sale next summer may net a few bucks, wouldn't it feel good to be done with it now and have extra white space? Donating it to a non-profit like the Salvation Army gives offers a tax write-off and blesses others; otherwise, extra stuff like children's clothing could be passed on to a friend.
I'm learning that we really don't need all that we think we need. More often than not, we do better with less. White space is good for one's psyche. My stress level is lower just thinking about making life more manageable by getting rid of excess stuff.
(Ruthlessly culling one's belongings is Habit #4 in my post, The Seven Habits of Highly Successful Housekeepers).