One of the common measures of whether to keep something or get rid of it is asking, “Did I use this in the past year?”

Different people will insert a different time frame. 3 months, 6 months, 2 years, 3 years, 5 years. Whatever. A year seems best to me. You’ve covered all the seasons, if it’s clothing. If it’s anything else, you’ve been through enough changes to cover most circumstances.

When we got back from Williamsburg this weekend, I cleaned out the refrigerator. That’s easy. Is it past the sell-by date? Throw it. Is it something you’re likely to use by the sell-by date? No? Throw it. Is it a leftover more than a week old? Throw it. Is it growing mold in a jar? Throw it.

Other categories of stuff are harder, but I’ve rarely regretted being ruthless about getting rid of things.

Books, for example. Even books I didn’t like or tried but didn’t finish. Books that might have been an engaging read, but that I’ll never look at again. I should get rid of them all, maybe take them to the library for them to sell off. But that’s hard for me.

Wires are hard. Connectors and adapters. They’re some of the few things I’ve occasionally thrown out then missed. So I’m in the habit of keeping them. What I need to do is force myself to keep only 1 of each.

Software is another. For a long time I kept old versions of programs on CDs. Until I realized that I’d been carrying them around for years — some of them since college — and they didn’t run on anything any more. Not without jumping through a lot of hoops. I’ve never regretted throwing them out. I have apps that I don’t use now. I should clean them off my machine.

Hard as it is, de-junking always leaves me feeling better. Lighter. Free.

It’s probably not for everyone.

But if you’re feeling weighed down, it’s might be something good thing to try.