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March 23, 2015

5 Tips for Letting Go of What Does not Inspire You

Everyday Moodings

Sometimes letting go actually means having control.~Jim Medlock

I purge my supplies often. Why? Because as time goes by what once inspired me no longer does. Having a room filled with supplies that are uninspiring does NOT nice things to my creative soul. (Yes, I know that's horrible grammar, but I am making a point.) By keeping supplies that do not inspire me, simply because I spent money of them, means the supplies (a.k.a GUILT) are in control not me.

It also prevents me from accepting new supplies into my creative life. At least is does in my world. My husband has restricted my space to one room. Makes me wonder why I keep him. LOL! I am very lucky as I have a large space to work with, but it is not unlimited. :)

Every year or so I eliminate those supplies that need a new home. It is usually consumables that get the boot. This year I released a large number of supplies. I came to the realization that how I was crafting had changed so drastically that I needed to serious refresh my stock. My paper stash was loaded with vintage items, which I love, but don’t really work when you are scrapbooking for a tween boy.

After many, many, many such purges I have learned a few tips I wanted to share.

Create a Plan
I know it might be tempting to just jump in and get started. But, depending on the size of your project this could be a recipe for failure. You know what they say, without map it is hard to get to your final destination. I try to decide three things before getting started.
  1. What areas am I going to work on? Is it paper? Stamps? Embellishments? I tend not to go through everything during a single purge as the task would become overwhelming.
  2. Why am I purging my supplies? Has my style changed? Do I need to make room for new supplies? Do I have too many supplies to fit in my space?
  3. What is my time frame? How much time can I commit to the project? What is my deadline? Yes, I only allow a certain amount of time to complete a supply purge. Why? Because it can become both overwhelming and a time waster. (You know who you are…..the ones that consistently organize and re-organized rather than creating. Don’t feel too bad, you are not alone.)

Work in Steps
I HIGHLY recommend that you break the process down into smaller steps. Say, one drawer or one container at a time. I know it would be great to get the whole project done in one day or a weekend. But unless you have to do it that way, I don’t recommend it.

Sorting through your supplies can be a daunting task. After a few hours I am usually fatigued by the process of deciding what should stay and what should go. The longer I go the larger my ‘I don’t know’ pile becomes. Or worse yet, everything goes in the ‘goodbye’ pile as I become frustrated with the amount a supplies I have. (It is not a pretty sight if I try to stay with it for more than an afternoon…..people and small animals could get hurt.)

This is also a pretty good argument for purging on a regular basis. That way the project is not so large and overwhelming. (And the squirrels are safe.)

Staging Areas 
Now that you have a good plan in place, it is now time to begin sorting. This can be done in boxes or like me…..on the floor. Our guest bed is also a great please, I just need to finish before parents come to visit. :)

If you have a large volume of supplies that have no home (the ones sitting on your workspace or on the floor) you might want to box them up and move them to another room, so you can sort through them as times allows. Chances are good that you will keep most of these items as they are probably new purchases. But until you purge some of your older supplies, you may have no room for them. Plus getting them out is like Christmas morning. (Don’t you love that feeling when you find a bag of forgotten supplies?) 

Basic sorting categories might include:
  • Definitely Keeping: These are the easy ones. You know the moment you look at it that you are not willing to part with these items.
  • Not Quite Sure: Inevitably there will be items you are not sure about. I recommend you put those in a box for future review. More on that in a moment.
  • Time for a New Home: If sometime does not inspire you, it is time let it go.
  • Trash: Some items are really not good enough to be donated. Those small scraps of paper or that sticker sheet with only one letter left…..that’s want I am talking.
I can be brutal during this process. If I look at a piece of paper or sticker or die-cut and I cannot immediately see myself using it on a project…..it goes.

Give Yourself Time to Make the Final Decision
It is understandable to be hesitant in letting go of some of your supplies. Someone spent hard earned money on those supplies. Maybe it that was you or maybe you received them as a gift. The truth is…..it is not the supplies you having a hard time letting go of, it is the feeling of guilt from having wasted money.

It is never my intention to waste money and keeping those uninspiring supplies does not mean I will eventually use them. Remember, just because something can still be used does not mean YOU will use it.

Still, it can be hard to let go…especially for those ‘I’m Not Sure’ items. So give yourself some time. Box them up and store them for a few months. If after six months you have not retrieved them or they still do you not inspire you, it is time to say good bye. It has been my experience that I usually rescue only a handful of items from this box before I donate it.

Sending Them to a Better Home
Everyday Moodings

This is my favorite part. It is always a huge weight off my shoulders to send these unwanted items to their new home.

Since I often give them to friends, it is a joy to give them away. It also means I have room for a few new purchases. :) But the best part is being surrounded by only those items that truly inspire me.

Final thoughts
While I routinely go through my consumables, I rarely purge my tools. (Although after the Ink Essentials workshop I did remove a number of dried out ink pads that I could not re-ink. Who knew they would go dry after 5-10 years…...they just don’t make things like they used to.)

Over the years I have given away mountains of paper, stickers and die-cuts. I have also said goodbye to punches, stencils, dies and idea books. I can honestly say that there are only a handful of items I wish I would have kept. The stencils are tops on my list. I had some really cool chalk stencils. I also wish I would have kept my original Sizzix letter dies.

Some things I never part with. Stamps, paint, embossing powder, fabric and buttons are in this category. (And don’t even think about touching my ribbon stash!)

At the end of the day, I am happy with the choices I have made regarding my supplies. Being able to let go of ‘things’ ultimately makes me feel more in control of my studio and my creative journey.

Do you have tips to share? I would love to hear them. :)


  1. Thanks for this article, Jeri! I am constantly decluttering all over my house, but the hardest stuff to let go of is craft supplies. They are such an important part of who I am. I have tried the "if you haven't used it in…," "if you don't really love it…,' "if it doesn't bring you joy" routines, and more. But I think you've hit the nail on the head with, "If I look at a piece of paper or sticker or die-cut and I cannot immediately see myself using it on a project…..it goes." When I read that I immediately thought of specific things that should go! Here's my one tip: If you have "childish" items that you won't use, but have children or grandchildren (or nieces, nephews, neighbors) that would, get them out of your stash and into a place labeled "Kids." I keep mine in a drawer - it's nice to let the grandkids rummage through that and know they can use anything in there. (That doesn't mean I don't let them use "my" stuff; it just allows me to peruse my own things without being distracted by items I don't love.)

    1. Awesome tip Margaret. One of the items I have having a tough time with right now is scrapbooking supplies for a younger child. I still have tons of photos I would like to scrapbook, but my son is now 12 and they don't fit. It is hard for me to make the connection. Reminds me that I STILL need to find a good way to organize past photos and albums......it is never ending. LOL! My instant reaction tip is one of my best guides....it is a gut reaction that is usually correct.

  2. Great article Jeri! Would love to have some ideas from folks about how to find a good new "home" for your purged items. There are things that are too good to throw away, but just don't know who to give them to. All of my friends already have more than they need or want!

    1. Thank you Pat. Since I am giving away mostly paper and stickers, I give them to friends with kids who like to craft. You can also contact your local elementary school, or depending on where you live, maybe a inner city elementary school as they may receive fewer donations. Or your area children's hospital. I am sure others probably have additional ideas. :)

    2. Hi Pat, do you think that local schools, or schools in poor districts would welcome your 'give-aways'? Children's clubs, scouts etc where crafts are taught would probably be delighted to inherit materials to assist them.'Cepta

  3. I REALLY a needed to read this....thank you! Now to get on with a plan!!!!!!
    Paper Hugs,

    1. You are welcome....I am so happy you found it useful. :)

  4. Great post Jeri! I have so much 'stuff' I can't work in my cabin at the moment actually, for the past 2 years I have been unable to work in there, as it has become storage rather than sanctuary. You have given me something to think about. I certainly don't feel inspired when I can't find what I want!

    1. Ok....first off if I had a cabin to work in I would be in HEAVEN. That just sounds so cool. While I do like a good 'hunt' for supplies (I find some really cool things I forgot I had that way) if it is too messy I can't get anything done with my limited time. I hope you can find a way to 'reset' your space and kick start your creativity. :)

  5. Can't seem to get off my duff and create. I love reorganizing but find I buy sane stuff to use all the time but have ideas for next art piece or journal but never follow through.

    1. Hi Diane.....organizing is a wonderful time waster. One many of us use. I should say there is a difference between time wasting organizing and having so much 'stuff' that you can't work until you organizing. A couple of tricks/tips you can try. Set a timer for your organizing so you will stop and start creating. Or pick up the 1st five items you come across and create something with them. It may not be a work of art (or maybe it will be) but it will grease the wheels and get you started. I also find it useful to set a timer for my creative time. It forces me to focus. I often work beyond the timer, but it helps get me started. Good luck and happy creating. :)