Clutter drives me crazy almost any time, but it seems like it gets worse during the holidays. We’re working with the charity Boat Angel, which accepts boat and car donations, to offer what we think are the 6 easiest ways to declutter before the holidays hit.
They’ll help reduce the stress of trying to deal with all your anxiety-causing, space-wasting “stuff” by helping you focus on what you can get rid of (the first secret to decluttering), while organizing what you want to keep.
1) Start With Your Clothes – Keep What You Love and Wear; Donate the Rest
Clothing is one of the biggest sources of clutter in my home and maybe yours, too. We have a tendency to hold on to clothes we’ve outgrown or whose styles have outgrown us. Little wonder that all those shoes, dresses, shirts, pants, sweaters, scarves, coats and jackets end up in big piles at the back of our closets, or falling off hangers, or stuffing up drawers.
Here’s how I keep my clothes clutter under control.
At the beginning of every season, I make a big pile of the past season’s clothes that no longer fit, that are no longer stylish, or that I just don’t like any more.
For example, with winter arriving, I’ve put the fall season sweatshirts, sweatpants, jeans, flannel shirts, blouses, skirts and dresses I never or barely wore into a pile. That created room in my closet and drawers for the winter clothes I think I want to wear.
Next, as I put my winter clothes away, I’m looking at them critically and trying on some things before they automatically go into a drawer or get hung up.
From that lot, I also put aside the apparel I just don’t think I’m going to wear anymore.
It probably takes two hours to go through my closet and all my drawers.
I make the time go faster by playing some music and having a cup of tea on hand to sip as I sort. When all is said and done, I have more room, my clothes are better organized, and I have a bag full of garments to donate to Goodwill or the local thrift store.
Since Goodwill, the Salvation Army, and Purple Heart all do pick-ups, I simply call them to say the goods are ready, then put them on my porch and voilá, they’re gone before I know it.
2) Work Room by Room, One Room at a Time
The same sorting process works well in every room in the house. In the kitchen, pull out items from the pantry you no longer use. Donate old housewares to a community kitchen or half-way house. Donate unopened food to a food pantry.
In the garage, collect excess tools and sporting gear, and consider whether now is the time to donate your car, boat, trailer or motorcycle.
A quick internet search will provide you a list of groups that are always looking for these types of goods and will allow you to even donate a boat without title.
3) BOGO – Buy One, Give One
Once I’ve made room in closets, cupboards and drawers, the trick is to keep them from filling up again. I make a practice of trying to give away the old version of something when I replace it with the new. It helps to keep a “donation bag” handy to put the old items into, rather than stuff them in some out-of-the-way place.
4) Recycle electronics
Among the biggest sources of household clutter are old electronics. Smart phones, computers, lap tops, tablets, printers, fax machines, cables, chargers – who doesn’t have a drawerful of electronic clutter they’d love to see emptied? Fortunately, electronics are as easy as clothes to unload, since pretty much every big box store that sells them also takes them back. Staples, OfficeMax, and BestBuy all make it easy by having drop-off boxes so you can just walk in and leave your old gear. Just make sure to swipe the data drives and remove the sim cards before you do.
Here’s our post on 15 Things You Can Recycle to Ease Christmas Clutter Clean-Up
5) Cancel Catalogs
Retail catalogs are a constant source of clutter in my home. They’re also a scourge on the planet because they want so much paper! You can cut that way back by refusing to provide your address or phone number when you shop in person (of course, if you buy online, you’ll have to provide your address). Another option is to call the 1-800 number provided in the catalog and ask the operator to remove your name from the company’s mailing lists. This will only take a couple of minutes. You can also sign up with CatalogChoice, and they’ll help you cancel the catalogs you no longer want to receive.
6) Give Everything a Place
Once you’ve gone through your home and removed the unnecessary and unused bits and pieces, you can organize what’s left.
But don’t be random about it. Put shoes in an over-the-door hanging shoe rack. String ties on hangers or tie racks. Use shelves so you can see what you have where.
Visit the Container Store to get ideas for the best way to organize your belongings, and pick up some baskets, shelves, or boxes if you need them. Clear boxes and bins are best for seeing what’s inside, but you can also label them on the side or top to keep track of their contents.
By the way, if you have kids at home, make sure you teach them to keep their clutter to a minimum, too. Even when they’re still quite young, kids can be taught to place dirty clothes in hampers, hang their back packs in a mud room, put their toys in the toy box, and place art supplies in a container when they’re finished using them. Setting aside 15 minutes before bedtime for everyone to put away their things is a good way to get the entire family involved.
Don’t forget to ask the kids to recycle and donate the toys, books, and gear they no longer use.
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