The biggest issues I hear many people run into when decluttering are:
not knowing how to start, how to decide what items to get rid of & how to maintain the process after decluttering.
I will address each of these topics and give some tips on how to resolve these issues.
Not knowing how or where to start your decluttering process?
This is common for many who haven’t really ever been consistent with decluttering throughout their lives. When starting this process don’t start with the important stuff. I love to tell those who are overwhelmed to start in the bathroom cabinets. There are many of us who carry medicines and toiletries that are expired or old. On top of that you may have some items that are just never going to be used. If you do have medicines that you want to get rid of, put them all in a large Ziploc bag and put them next to your door. Take them with you on your next outing and drop it off at your nearest medicine disposal center. You can locate one here.
After you do this, you will feel a little more confident going through another category.
The next category I would recommend is clothing. Set a simple a donation bag near your closet and look through your closet while getting dressed for the day. Every so often you may find something that doesn’t fit or is no longer something you want to own, put it in the donation pile. Items that have stains, rips/holes or have many loose threads need to be thrown away.
How to get rid of items:
- When dealing with items that are going to leave your home there need to be separate piles/bags. Some items will be leaving your home because they are no longer usable. Others will be leaving but are still useful to others. Once you figure this out, throw away the non-useful items. Donate the other items. If you know a friend is looking for some old t-shirt for a project or a friend who would love to wear your old prom dress- great!
- There are places that give formal dresses to low income high school students. Sometimes you can find local schools asking for donations for a rummage sale to raise funds for programs.
The local homeless shelter is always looking for gently used towels and clothing items, rain gear, backpacks, etc.
- The local goodwill store is great for dropping off housewares, home décor, furniture, clothing and toys. They don’t accept baby gear because of safety issues.
- There are many online buy, sell and trade sites if you know there is something of value that you would like to make money off of. If it is something like baby clothes, books, toys or dishware that you just no longer want or need you can always just offer them for free to the first person who picks up.
There are many ways to give back to the community with little amounts of effort. Please, don’t just throw everything away when it definitely could be useful!
Personally, we stick to the local homeless shelter and goodwill that are usually open year round. That is just much easier for us.
The best and most difficult process is keeping up on decluttering after you have done all the work to get rid of so many things.
Ways to keep up on the stuff that enters your home:
- For incoming papers, recycle away ads immediately. I used to save coupons but I honestly would more stressed out by trying to use them by the expiration date. Unless I know I need the coupon for a specific item, I throw it out. Do this with magazines too! We also do this with credit card/loan offers and anything else you’d consider to fall into those categories.
- Keep a file folder for the bare essentials (think medical cards, birth certificates, insurance information…) For everything else, snap a photo on your phone and save it into a dropbox folder. You can also, once a month, scan all the important stuff and put it in a folder that you back-up for safe keeping.
- For art and special photos, do the same thing, snap photos and get rid of what you don’t need. Most of our images we own have digital formats so don’t be afraid to get rid of them.
- For art pieces that are special to you, hang them on your wall, create a large art portfolio and as it gets full, get rid of other items. If you love it but don’t want to keep it, sell them online or at a local market or shop that allows this option.
- You can also do creative things with artwork such as printing a book that consists of your or your child’s wonderful art pieces.
Decluttering is an ongoing process that should feel never ending. However, once you come up with a consistency that works for you, you will find that it isn’t always an overwhelming process every single time.
It will soon become second nature, it will soon become a habit!