Freedom From Clutter

Get organizing assistance from Sandy

What to do with your (too much) stuff

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There are so many clever & creative things to do with your stuff to stay organized & on top of clutter that perhaps you haven’t thought of. I’ll share many ideas that I’ve used in my own home.

When you have items you think you may use, but aren’t sure, instead of leaving them to clutter your space or take up valuable real estate pack them in a box. Say you have 8 flower vases, you know you’ll use 2 on a regular basis so box the other 6 & if anymore come in box them as well (when you are done with them, of course). Label the box & put the date on the box when you packed it up. Check stored boxes periodically throughout the year. Let’s say you needed another flower vase on your birthday, but otherwise hadn’t touched the other 5 in a year, you know it is okay to donate the 5. Put the box in your can & drop it off when passing a donation center. Same with all your other items. Box like items up, label the box & date it. Take what you need from them throughout the year & donate the rest. You may have purchased a certain dish for a particular food item (think; spring form pan, trifle bowl, or any other odd item), yet no one liked it or it was too difficult to make or cheaper to buy, & you haven’t used the dish again in a year, instead of it taking up valuable real estate for just in case, box it, label it, & date it. It will be much easier to let things go when you haven’t touched, looked for, or needed an item(s) in 6 months to a year. It gives you a visual clue to what you actually need or use. People hoard because they may need it someday. Trust that if you do need an item you donated all your needs will be taken care of in the future. Needs change. A busy family may need & use certain items, but once kids grow up &/or move out some items are no longer needed & can be passed on to new families (as long as they are in good condition). By using this technique you can see for yourself what is needed or wanted & what is not. 

Kid items are the same, they out grow & change often, yet we keep piling on toy after toy, sporting equipment after sporting equipment, clothing after clothing without purging the old. Ask your children if they had to grab 5, 10 or 20 favorite things in a hurry what would they grab (that will give you great insight). You can also box up, label, & date items & see if anyone asks for a particular item. If so, retrieve it from the stored box & leave the remaining to donate. Some parents hold onto what they consider keepsakes. When the child moves out or has children of their own they don’t want most of the stuff you’ve saved. Take a picture instead of the item that you find precious & make a keepsake album instead & if you are really ambitious write a note about them with/in the item. Shared thoughts & feelings & memories are so much better then a box of worn out, outdated & unwanted things that they now have to take care of & store.

Speaking of children, they bring in a lot of stuff especially art work. There are many ideas to control the amount you keep. One is to string art work along a wall & change it often. Take a long wire or string & use clothes pins to hang. Laminate some special pieces to make as place mats (give as gifts to relatives too). Take pictures of select pieces throughout the year & create a digital calendar of their art (another great gift idea to share with relatives that may not have been able to be a part of). If you have limited space rotate, one in, one out. Roll it up & store in tubing, such as paper towel or wrapping paper tubes. Label them. You can scan art work into your computer & let go of the actual art piece. You can mail art work to relatives or find senior citizen centers or nursing homes in your area & ask if they would like some to display for the residents. Or again take pictures & create a scrap book for them to do with what they want. 

Clothing is a huge space zapper. Periodically go through clothes, toss stained, out dated, & unwearable items. Designate a spot for repairable items & decide to repair them by a certain time  (or they go in the donate pile), or bring to a tailor or dry cleaner by a certain date. Your best bet, if you are bringing them to an outside source, is to place them in your car so they are easily dropped off while you are out.  Also, unaware if you’ll wear an item, place the hanger backwards on the rod, as you choose an item, wear it, wash it & return it, place the hanger the right way, at the end of each season check the hangers that are still backwards & donate those. You can also box clothing & label what the contents are & again record the date. Whatever you haven’t taken out, you aren’t missing, donate. Use this technique for all items as well as shoes & purses. 

Photo’s are another item that don’t seem to find a home. What I did was take a $1.00 box & placed photos according to who was in the picture versus in order of dates or certain events. Much quicker & easier. The ones you have framed change from time to time to update your visual gallery. I made my children their own scrapbooks, for Christmas one year, of their life up to that year. Walking down memory lane made our holiday extra special. 

Use items that come into your home, but may be packaged for food or drink or other grocery items. You may need tissues & throw the box away when done, but they can corral so many things. For instance, you can shove a lot of plastic bags inside the box to use in & as small trash cans. Store the tissue box filled with plastic bags in the room that has a mini trash can, or take a box & put it in your car. You can also store plugs or crayons or any number of items, just remember to label it. Coffee cans or any can get a quick wrapping paper job, glued on sea shells, or painted & be used to store extra kitchen utensils, hair brushes, small toys, make up brushes, art supplies, paint brushes, pencils & pens. Jars can be cleaned out & be used as piggy banks, for flowers, or to collect sea shells, cotton balls, macaroni, or anything that once opened can get stale such as cookies or marshmallows. Use empty  paper towel rolls to store cable cords, label & stick in a draw. Small games such as hand held gadgets or playing cards fit in a shoe box. Puzzles, cut out the picture & place the pieces in a zip lock bag. In other words before going to buy expensive storage containers look at what you already buy with a new eye. 

The most important thing, for me, to have an organized life is to make every thing convenient. Keep a paper towel roll in every bathroom (along with glass cleaner), your car, & even bedrooms (seems we’re always reaching for a paper towel so have them easily accessible). Keep a trash can in every room. Create a landing & launch pad by the door you use regularly. A coat closet may be located by the front door but you use the back door or the door from the garage. So the closet designated by the builder doesn’t necessarily work for you on a daily basis. Get creative hang hooks, use shelves, or furniture by the door you use most often to house the items you need to take to & from. Place anything that needs to go with you, backpacks, purse, keys, library books, coupons, even shoes, on your pad so it is ready when you are. For easier mornings pick out your clothes the night before. And before you go to bed take just 5, 10 or 15 minutes to create a clean kitchen for you to start your day in. If you hit your snooze button either set the alarm 45 minutes earlier or put it across the room. For ideas for dinner look at your weekly grocery store flyer. What’s on sale is what’s for dinner. While you cook dinner fill the sink with hot soapy water for dirty dishes & cooking utensils. As you create your grocery list record on the calendar what is for dinner each night, so you not only know what you are having, but others who are home first can start it (or not). If I use coupons I record my list on an envelop (from junk mail) & keep the coupons inside & place on my launch pad. For mail handle it immediately. Place a shredder, trash can & where you keep your bills as the place to open mail, preferably where your landing & launch pad is located or close by. You’d be amazed when you use the do it now principal on how much you get accomplished & stay up on (& it only took a minute or two). Distribute the magazines & catalogs to their designated home. If magazines are piling up think about canceling your subscription & purchase periodically when you shop & when you have time, or read them online. 

I hope these tips help you create an organized life. Please feel free to use any of these helpful ideas & pass them on. Much peace! ~Sandy


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