Why is it so hard to let go of hobby clutter?

Last month, I had the opportunity to give a talk to a wonderful audience who were all looking for tips & resources around letting go of the hard stuff.  These are the things that you have in your spaces that pull on your heart or are surrounded by questions.  Which means this “stuff,” is usually put away on a high shelf or pushed to the back of the closet to be forgotten or looked over.

As I prepared for the talk, I peeked around my own house to hunt out some of the items that I thought would fit that “tough” category  And… (sigh) I found a bin in my craft closet that was holding fabric from a forgotten (wink) quilting project that I had started 5 years ago.  Ugh! 

I had thought I had a pretty good idea of what I store in my spaces, but this little tub had found a hiding spot where it didn’t need to be moved or looked at, so the contents were left in wait.  I pulled out those pieces & asked myself the same question that I often hear from clients.

“Why is it so hard to let go of hobby items?”

Here are the responses that I heard run through my head as I dug a little deeper into this question & the resistance involved in letting go of this category of stuff.

Collecting all these materials for my hobby was a big investment

If I were to take an inventory of my cabinets & closets, I would find tools from my watercolor painting phase, yarn & needles to aid my occasional desire to knit, rarely-used scrapbooking supplies, a bin of felting tools, and some fabric tubs.  Hobbies/crafts often involve a very specific set of tools & all of those supplies can really start to add up, so the voice in my head could try to coax me into keeping them around to ensure I get my “money’s worth.”  

How to talk back to that voice –  The supplies that you have been storing aren’t able to offer you their value if they sit unused.  Recognize that they have served their purpose and their investment allowed you to learn a new skill, meet new people, or find joy when you used them.  Offer them gratitude & send them off for someone else to enjoy or let them go with love.

This hobby is a part of “who I am” 

My hobbies have offered me chances to take classes, identify with the creative side of my personality, and feel like I belong to a larger community that shares my interests.  When I think about letting go of the supplies, then a little voice wants to tell me that I am losing a piece of my identity.

How to talk back to that voice – Letting go of the stuff surrounding the hobby won’t take away the memories that you have of that time in your life.  You are still a creative person whether or not you store 10 tubs of fabric or 3 bins of stamps.  Be choosy & embrace the freedom that can come from getting clear about the hobby/projects that really fit with your life NOW.

This project was meant for a loved one & it feels bad to give up on it 

I often start a project with the intention to create a gift for someone I love.  So, when it sits for years without attention, I can start to feel guilty for not following through.  That little voice tells me it would be unloving to give up on the project & let it go.

How to talk back to that voice – Recognize that your loving thoughts & good intentions at the time created a positive energy all of their own, but as time passed the energy shifted.  Let those feelings of guilt go as you release the project & recognize that you share love in so many ways.

I better keep them “just in case” I need them in the future.

As my interests change and as I start new hobbies I add more supplies to my spaces.  It can start to feel overwhelming and overrun if I don’t let go of unused things, but that little voice in my head could ask that I keep them around just in case I feel like getting back to it someday.  

How to talk back to that voice –  Ask yourself, “When is the last time I used these supplies?  And then “If I had open time today would I choose to work on this hobby?”  If the answer is no, then those supplies are ready to be passed on.  When you decrease the amount of options you have to choose from, you increase the likelihood that you will actually spend time on a hobby/project you enjoy.

I don’t know how to pass it on.

Some of the supplies that I am ready to get rid of have been used, feel like scraps, or were specific to a project. That voice in my head could tell me that it would be hard to donate those things or no one is going to want those things.

How to talk back to that voice – Donating can take a little more effort, but there are so many crafters & organizations that could benefit from your items.  And donating offers those supplies the opportunity to be put to use.

Next Steps…

Letting go of hobby supplies requires asking yourself some questions around what you like & what you want to spend your time on.  And taking the time to answer those questions is worth it!

The relief you will feel as you let go of those unfinished projects & outgrown phases of your life will create a new lighter energy.  A new energy that you can use to focus your attention on the hobbies that truly bring you contentment.

If you are looking for tips on how to get started on your decluttering project, download my Free Declutter Tip Sheet



And for donation resources, check out this post.  Ask Kate – Where can I donate fabric?

More thoughts on the subject?  Let me know below.