Getting organized: what to do with all of your stuff

Closets bursting with old clothes? Toys overflowing from their bin? We all have our clutter: maybe its paper, photos, or multiples of kitchen gadgets. But, it’s time to purge and organize. Often that means letting go of the emotional clutter clinging to the objects as well.

imageWhile the West Elm and Pottery Barn catalogues (photo) may seem ideal- remember they are photo shoots- no one’s family of five truly lives on those pages! What is important is finding what works for your family (don’t think my neighbors would appreciate the telescope and I don’t think the room would have held up to last nights indoor hockey game…don’t ask!).

Pairing down and clearing space, though, can help create a calmer atmosphere.

Enlisting a friend to help weed through your closet is a great idea, but most of my friends have their own clutter to tackle rather than spending hours on mine.

Instead, try taking a picture of the room from different angles. Cluttered spots you’re accustomed to are more obvious in a photograph. Same goes for an outfit. Undecided if you should keep the dress you wore once last year? Take a picture of yourself in it- still love it?

My problem is less about filling the boxes with items to discard, it’s moving the boxes out of the house. I have this notion that my unwanted items still need a good home…and I hate throwing things in the garbage.

imageSo, where can you go with clothes too tattered for Goodwill or the resale shop? Contact your local school district sewing teachers. Many of them are thrilled to receive “practice” fabric for beginning students.

Stuffed animals? Some fire and police departments will take them to comfort young kids on emergency calls.

Towels and sheets that are a little frayed? Local animal shelters are always in need of these for their pups and cats.

Kitchen gadgets everywhere? Pass them along to your neighbor’s child heading to college or their first apartment. Or, contact your local women & children’s shelter.

Leftover paint? School or small theatre set crews often welcome extras for building & decorating sets. Remember- paint and dead batteries can not be thrown in the garbage! Most towns have a “hazardous waste” drop-off location, or find recycling options on Earth 911.

Holiday decorations? Many nursing homes are happy to accept decorations for their common area rooms.

imageWhere are your favorite spots to donate?

Wondering where to start? The Art of Doing Stuff has a great organizing challenge beginning now.

striped jute bag
donation box photo credit

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