Too much stuff. How do we accumulate so many boxes of papers, photos, clothes, books and memorabilia? Truthfully, it’s a slow, methodical process that began years ago. We attached sentimental value to items no longer needed. Rather than part with our keepsakes, we set them aside and watched the boxes multiply.
The thought of cleaning out the clutter and collectables can be overwhelming. Where do we start? How long will this take? Who can help us? What resources are available? We need a plan to make a change.
Here are a few simple guidelines to tackle the task of decluttering. First, we must detach ourselves from the treasures that touched our hearts. The only way to move forward is to let go of the past.
Make a commitment
Start with a daily or weekly time and day to go through personal belongings. Create a routine that supports your commitment. Show up on time to the front hall closet, the basement storage room, the garage or the packed attic. Make no excuses…commit to a regular time and place.
Be objective by necessity
OK, it’s hard to give up the cute Mother’s Day card your son made for you in kindergarten. Or the adorable letter your daughter wrote on a day of redemption. But your offspring will tell you to get rid of it all. They, and most of your friends and relatives, desire few, if any, items in your giant collection of sentimental gifts, used furnishings, collectables and papers. Look at it, smile and send it to the Toss stack. If you don’t need or use it, it’s time to let it go.
Make a little cash
Maybe Aunt Jean’s heirloom necklace has some value. Set it aside and have it evaluated. Antiques, coins, stamps, military items, old quilts and sports memorabilia should be looked at by the experts. Hold on to items you believe may have value and can translate to cash. Or, host a garage sale to sell a variety of goods that will find a new home. Ask friends for referrals about local dealers you can trust.
Contribute to charities
Many local charitable organizations would be happy to take your used dishes, china, tools, clothing and furniture. Make a list of possible charities and call them in advance to find out what they will accept. Be sure your donations are in good condition or the charity drivers may leave them at the door. Find out their pick-up times and dates so that you can plan ahead.
Give specific donations
It’s possible your church may need the piano that’s been sitting in your living room for years. Your dining room set may be the perfect donation for a family in need. Vintage posters, books and historic artifacts might be useful to a theme museum. If you want your items to be donated to a worthy cause or organization, you’ll have to do some research to determine the best options. You may also benefit from a tax-deductible donation.
Shop-a-holics love bargains – and often buy ahead for holidays and gift-giving. Once the household cleanse has started, it’s important NOT to fill in those open spaces. The only way to keep things tidy is to avoid the acquisition of more items.
Feel good about your progress
The great clean-up will give you a sense of peace, tranquility and accomplishment. You’ll have more room, less possessions and a clean, orderly environment. There’s so much to like about being neat and organized. Great job! Keep up the good work!