Don’t you just hate it when things get all cluttered and you have to waste time trying to hunt things down?
I am not a fan of wasting time digging through closets or hunting through piles to find things I need. I hate looking around my house and feeling like things are piling up. And I hate even more when it’s all “important” stuff that someone in my house thinks we need to keep. It makes me want to toss it ALL into the recycle bin and start over.
If only. . .
But I know better. Some of it is important. But some of it just seems important or we have a tough time letting go of it. Maybe we paid a lot for it, or we’re sure we could eventually find a use for it. Whatever the reason it’s taking up space and making our home and our life more messy, more stressful and, well, more cluttered.
Sometimes it’s challenging to sort between things that are important and things that only seem important. Here are nine things we often hang on to because we think they’re important to keep, but if you want to be less cluttered these are nine things you need to get rid of today.
Grab the donate box and the trash bag and let’s get to it.
Clothing that doesn’t fit
Are you hanging on to clothes that don’t fit you? Why? Are you actively losing weight and have a date by which these items will fit? No? Then donate them today. All they are doing hanging in your closet is taking up space—and making you feel bad about the size you are now.
Are you hanging on to clothes your kids have outgrown? They’re not going to get any smaller, you know. Kids just get bigger. So unless you have a smaller child who will soon be of that size, it’s time to clean out the closet and donate anything in good repair to your local thrift shop.
Gifts you don’t love and aren’t going to use
Are you keeping the lava lamp you got as a wedding present because you really love it and it occupies a place of honor in your family room or out of guilt? We’ve all received well-intentioned gifts (I prefer to think of them that way) that were total bummers. Either it’s just not to our taste or it’s something we’re never going to use. There is someone out there who will love it and use it, but they can’t do it if it’s still cluttering up your life. Donate it today and free yourself from the unnecessary guilt.
Broken tools, toys or appliances
How long has it been sitting on the workbench? Are you really going to fix it? If it’s been there longer than 30 days, it’s time to say sayonara to the broken stuff. If it’s been there that long, you’ve either already replaced it or learned to live without it. Do NOT donate broken stuff. If it can be recycled, recycle it; otherwise, into the garbage bin it goes.
Anything you have duplicates of
Are multiple slow cookers making your kitchen more efficient? How many sets of bed sheets do you really need? We have two sets of cotton sheets and two sets of flannel sheets for each bed. I used to have a lot more than that. And then one day I realized they were taking up a lot of space in my linen closets. I got rid of the extras and I’ve never yet felt shorted. If you don’t regularly use your three slow cookers, it’s time to part with the two that are collecting dust.
There’s nothing wrong with having more than one of something—as long as you use them all and they have a regular purpose in your home. If you’re a runner, you probably need more than one pair of in-good-shape running shoes. If you regularly cook for a crowd, those three slow cookers may be a necessity. What you need to purge is all the extras you are keeping “just in case.” Toss or donate them today and see how good all that extra space feels.
Food that no one at your house is going to eat
We all make grocery mistakes. The vegetarian chili seemed like a good idea at the time. But when even your most adventurous eater wouldn’t touch it, it got shoved to the back of the pantry. If it’s still good, donate it to a food pantry. If not, just get rid of it. It’s not likely that your family will be so hungry soon that they’ll develop a taste for whatever it is you bought on a whim. Make room in the pantry for foods your family will eat by getting rid of what they won’t.
Any magazine more than 60 days old
No, you aren’t going to sit down and read it. If you were, you’d have done it a lot sooner. And no, you don’t need to go through them all to tear out articles for saving. Whatever it is, you can do a web search and find the information online. Old magazines either go into the recycle bin—or, if your child’s art teacher can use them, repurpose them there. Do NOT drop them off at the doctors’ office. They have enough old magazines. They don’t need yours.
Packaging for any product you’ve used more than 14 days
When we first make a purchase, especially with appliances or electronics, we sometimes keep the packaging to make sure it works properly. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s actually a pretty good idea. But once you’ve put it into use and it’s working fine, it’s time to get rid of the box and all the packing. If the thought of getting rid of the box after a mere 2 weeks gives you hives, pick your own time limit. Just make it reasonable and then follow through. Be sure you remove any instruction manuals and warranty cards and properly take care of those, but there is no good reason to clutter up your house with old packaging.
Plastic grocery bags
Reusable grocery bags are the way to go these days. If you aren’t using them, it’s time to move into the 21st century and get some. They’re cheap. They work great—if you remember to take them to the store. Sometimes I forget and I end up with plastic grocery bags. These are worse than old socks. I swear they multiply in the cupboard at an astonishing rate. Get in the habit of recycling them on your next trip to the store. They can’t go in the home recycling bin, but nearly every store I shop at has a bag recycling bin.
I admit I use these for wastebasket liners. But be reasonable. Unless you live in a 12-bedroom house, keeping a hundred or more on hand is overkill. Designate a container to hold them if you use these regularly for whatever purpose. Once that container is full, the rest of the bags get recycled.
Homework Assignments from Past Semesters
The temptation to keep all the lovely mementos of our children’s’ education is great. It’s also a sure path to being buried in clutter by graduation. If you want to know how we organized the school stuff, you can find it in this post. But let’s talk about homework, whether it’s yours or theirs. Once my children got to high school, keeping track of papers got a little more complex. I taught them this method I developed when I was in school.
I gave each child a file box with a folder for each class. They kept assignments and exams for each class in the designated folder as they were returned by the teacher. When they were done with the class and had received their final grade, they could empty the folder, and keep only papers or projects that were particularly significant to them. They also do this now that they’re in college.
It’s important to hang on to assignments until the class ends because sometimes grading mistakes are made—having the graded assignment as verification has saved more than one grade. But once the class is done and the final grade received, there’s no reason to hang on to all those papers, other than significant works that could go into a portfolio.
So whether you’re ready to go for all nine, or just tackle one or two items on this list, getting rid of these things will move you forward on the road to a clutter-free home and life. And once you get started, you might come up with some additional ideas. I’d love to hear how this is working for you and how else I can help you be more organized. Please share your thoughts in the comments.