Life moves fast! You’re a busy woman, and it is difficult to find the time to keep things around the house organized and clutter free. Between work, family, friends and taking care of yourself, something is usually left undone. Often, where we let things slide is housework and organization. Do you have a little “clutter corner” that needs some attention? Is there one room in the house that is more like a dark little cavern than a bright and vibrant part of your home like other rooms? Clutter can creep up so quickly seemingly out of nowhere!
Whether it comes from gifts, impulsive purchases, or old souvenirs, every house has more than its share of clutter. And while it may be worth keeping some of these items around for their useful or sentimental value, almost everyone can benefit by donating, recycling, or even selling some of these items and organizing their home for the better.
Here are a few “declutter tips” on how to be more organized; assess the items in your rooms, closets, and garage; and get rid of unneeded clutter quickly and efficiently.
Have a Supply of Corrugated Shipping Boxes on Hand
While you can buy moving boxes, most stores will let you take a few boxes for free. Why buy new boxes, if you can rescue a few that were going to be trashed any way? Start by visiting a local retail or department store (like Walmart or Target) and pick up some of the corrugated shipping boxes their merchandise is shipped in. Find out when their merchandise is unpacked and ask politely if you can have a few boxes – since most of these boxes are thrown away, most employees will be happy to part with them.
Select boxes that are made of thick corrugated cardboard and free of any strong odors like perfume or soap. Also, make sure that both the bottom and top of the box are included (boxes with canned goods occasionally have an open top or bottom).
Be sure your shipping boxes are folded up (employees carry small blades to slice open the tape on the tops and bottoms of shipping boxes, making it easier to fold up the boxes and transport them). This will also make it easy for you to stack the shipping boxes once you get home so they don’t take up a lot of space and are easily available when needed.
If you don’t have some already, make sure to also buy some strong packing tape and keep it next to your stack of boxes – that way, you can always tape a box back together and use it when you need it.
Declutter Your Home – One Room at a Time
Once you’re back at home, reassemble three of your boxes. Label one “Recycle,” another “Keep,” and the third “Donate.” (If you’re thinking of selling some of your items, you can also mark the fourth box “Sell”).
Now go into each room in the house and fill up each box. Assess each item fairly – do you really need those bottles and cans you were going to use as a craft project? Could someone else use those toys and appliances? Is it time to sell those textbooks?
When organizing closets or offices, you will most likely require more boxes than just three. Even so, try to limit each clean-up session to three or four boxes at a time – it’ll help you be organized.
Recycle, Sell, or Make Charitable Donations of Your Items
Now that your items have been organized into easy-to-transport boxes, you can start getting rid of your unneeded clutter.
Items in your “Donate” boxes can be easily dropped off at your local Salvation Army or Goodwill store. Some stores offer a state tax credit for donated items, so be sure to keep a list of your donated items (and their fair-market value) handy.
Most items in your “Recycle” boxes (like plastic bottles, paper products, and cans) can be deposited in the blue recycling bins in front of many homes or at a local recycling center (Just be sure to call and check in advance to see if they accept all these items).
Keep in mind that some items like broken computers or DVD players may need to be taken to different recycling centers. Other items, like old batteries and cell phones, contain hazardous chemicals and will need to be disposed of at special centers – check the Internet to find a program that works for you.
If you choose to sell some of your items, be sure to have a plan. While garage sales are great for getting rid of certain items, other items (like books) may sell better online.
One word of warning – do not put off this step! If you don’t recycle, donate, or sell your unneeded items almost immediately after sorting through your clutter, odds are they’ll just stay in those boxes and continue to clutter up your home.
Be Organized – Develop Habits for Discouraging Future Clutter
Once most of the clutter in your house is recycled, donated, or sold, you’ll find you have a lot more space to re-organize and store the items you wanted to keep. Keep in mind, however, that the best way of decluttering a home is to keep new clutter from accumulating. To that end, take some of these steps to discourage additional clutter:
- Keep some recycling boxes handy to deposit used bottles, cans, and junk mail (just make sure to shred any documents with personal information before you recycle them). Make trips to recycling centers a part of your weekly routine.
- Use what you found to keep from making future impulse buys. (If you came across five digital cameras in good condition while cleaning out the closet, think twice before you buy camera number six during the sale next month).
- Get into the habit of donating items as they outlive their use. Sure those office chairs served you well – but if you already have five chairs, think of how many other people could benefit from your spare four!
Though the initial organizing and decluttering can be a big job, it is worth it. At the end of the process, you have reclaimed your space, parred down your possessions into the essentials and created a more peaceful and relaxing living environment. Clutter is a big drain mentally, but getting organized feels like a weight being lifted from your mind.
Decluttering may truly “pay off” in more ways than one. If you have a yard sale or sell some items online, you have earned some additional cash for all your hard work. What are you waiting for? It’s time to take action, make your plan, and get rid of clutter. You’ll be glad you did!