Tips for Decluttering Items From Former Jobs {Decluttering Sentimental Items - Day 12} | From Overwhelmed to Organized: Tips for Decluttering Items From Former Jobs {Decluttering Sentimental Items - Day 12}

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Tips for Decluttering Items From Former Jobs {Decluttering Sentimental Items - Day 12}

Today in the Decluttering Sentimental Items series we're decluttering items from former jobs. It's tough when a job ends, whether it was by choice or not, and whether we loved the job or not.
On our last day we bring home a bunch of stuff and it probably gets dumped somewhere. Other priorities end up meaning this former job stuff gets pushed further and further away from everyday life and ends up in the basement or attic and never dealt with. Some of these items might be sentimental but others likely don't mean much later.

If you need, use, or love these items and have the space to store them, then they are not clutter.  But if not, it's time to look at decluttering some things.

Why former work items are hard to let go of 

It can be hard to let go of things that we used in a previous job because we pour a lot of time and energy into our work lives.  We may not want to declutter these items because it can feel like we're tossing out that hard work.

It's especially hard to let go of things we think we will use in another job.  Files are especially hard to declutter because they usually represent a lot of ideas and work that we put into projects and we don't want to have to reinvent the wheel in a related job.

Tips for letting go of former work items

As you go through your items from former jobs, here are a few things you can ask yourself:

  • How do I feel when I look back on this job? If your feelings are neutral or negative (perhaps you left on bad terms), you probably don't need to keep anything (why keep items that remind you of something you didn't like?)  If you loved the job, find a few items that bring back happy memories of that time period and let go of the rest.
  • Are you currently working in a related field or position? If so, have you used any of these items since you started this job?  Declutter any that you haven't used.
  • Do you anticipate working in a related job in the near future? Will you realistically need any of the items you kept or will they be outdated or readily available later? Let go of any of the things you won't need later.
  • If you're keeping lists of contacts, transfer any current information to your phone, address book, or contacts list and then let go of the old papers.

A few months ago I went through many boxes and bins full of files from former jobs (actually former careers... I've switched them a few times!).  I had been keeping some of them for 20 years!  Some of them represented challenging times and I couldn't bring myself to go through them in the past.

They represented TONS of hours of work and ideas and I had been hanging onto them in case I ever went back into any of those lines of work.  But I don't plan to change careers any time soon (I love being a professional organizer and blogger!).  And IF I ever went back into one of my former careers, I know most of what was in those files would be outdated, or I'd be able to access similar material online.

I'd moved some of those boxes a few times and I knew I wouldn't want to move them the next time we move.  And in this home they took up a lot of storage space.

So I recycled almost everything.  It felt SO great to let go of the past!   I kept about one small file from each former job or career with either ideas that I thought I might use in other areas of my life or things like cards or letters that brought back positive memories.

It took quite awhile to sort through everything... honestly it would have been quicker to just dump it all into the recycling bin.  But I'm glad I made the time to go through it all... it was very cathartic and a chance to let go of some challenging parts of my past.  And now I feel freer to enjoy my present and the future!

One of the 365 Items in 365 Days FB group members decluttered her former job items.  Check out her before and after pictures!

"With the encouragement of Hilda and the rest of the 365 items in 365 days group I cleaned out my office of "Former job" stuff. I had left that role 8 years before but just transported all the stuff back to my home office where I do 80% of my work in my new job. I loved the old job but it changed a lot and it was a fantastic move when I started fresh at a new place. However all that old job stuff just hung around. Once I cleared it out and filled 3 recycle bins with stuff I felt like a weight had been lifted off my chest! My office is so much more spacious and I can work with ease and all of that paperwork was totally unnecessary!"

What a difference!  I love hearing stories like that :)  If you've got former job clutter weighing you down, take some time today, find the treasures, and let the rest go!

Ways you can reuse/repurpose/display former work items 

If you're keeping items that are still useful for your current job, then make sure you keep them easily accessible so you can find them when you need them.  If it takes a lot of effort to find something, you'll either waste a lot of time searching for it, or you'll end up not using it (in which case you might as well not bother keeping it).

If you want to keep a few items purely for sentimental reasons, see if you can find a way to display the things you want to keep. If you keep the same type of item from each job it will be easier to do this.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Make a collage of your old business cards. 
  • Frame your first or last cheque stubs from each job.
  • Use a shadow frame {affiliate link} to display ID cards, badges, or name plates.

Don't Start Your Decluttering Journey With Sentimental Items

Just a quick reminder that if you have "regular" (non-sentimental) clutter in your home, it's better to deal with that first and set aside your sentimental clutter until your home is less cluttered.  Decluttering your everyday items will likely make more of an impact on your daily life than sentimental decluttering will.  And sentimental items are generally more difficult to tackle so it's better to build up to them.

Whether you're decluttering sentimental items or general clutter, join our 365 Items in 365 Days Facebook group!  You'll find lots of encouragement, motivation, and tips as we all declutter our homes and lives together.  You can find more details about the 365 Items in 365 Days challenge here too.

For More Decluttering Sentimental Items Tips

Want more tips?  Check these the 31 Days of Easy Decluttering series!

Or the Decluttering From A to Z series from last October!

If you'd like more decluttering ideas, you can check out my Decluttering/Purging Tips & Ideas board on Pinterest.

Your turn!

What can you declutter from former jobs? What makes it hard for you to let go of former work-related things?  Is there a way you can use, display, or re-purpose your items from former jobs?

What have you let go of already? What tips can you share to help others declutter their former job items? What have you done with your former work items that you kept? What ideas can you share for displaying former work items?

As you declutter your former work items, take pictures and share them on social media using the hashtag #declutteringsentimentalitems so you can inspire all of us to declutter our sentimental items!

If you've got a picture of how you displayed or re-purposed your former job-related things, please share it in the comments or on one of the series' social media posts.   I'd love to see how you are giving honour and respect to your sentimental items!

Happy organizing decluttering!

Here are all the posts in this challenge in case you missed any or want to share some with your friends or family!

I link up at these great parties - Check them out!