Take a cue from celebrated declutterer Marie Kondo to bring order to your outdoor space. Set aside time to examine each category of goods populating the patio, yard and shed — tools, furniture, plants, etc. — and ask yourself Kondo’s quintessential question as you encounter each item: “Does this spark joy?” If it doesn’t, get rid of it. In doing so, you’ll free your mind of the need to make everything somehow fit into a perfect scheme. “Let go of the ‘what-ifs’ and ‘somedays,’” says the Houzz blog. “Toss that half-dead plant into the compost bin and tidy up the debris of an unfinished garden project.”
Consider the purpose of your outdoor space so that you can declutter it more effectively, says Home Storage Solutions 101. It might be a playground for the kids, a place to hold elegant al fresco dinner parties, or your own little garden spot. Whatever its function is should help determine the stuff that occupies the space. The rest can go into a garden shed and storage bins when not in use to free up space. As you weed, clean and organize your patio, toss any broken items, and save any still-useful items that just don’t fit into your scheme for a donation to ClothingDonations.org.
Unseasonably cool weather will give way to warmer temperatures soon, and that means one thing: outdoor living. Get your outdoor space ready for summer by clearing it of the clutter that has gathered there over the winter. Start by throwing away any broken tools, flower pots and garden ornaments, then decide what to do with the stuff that might be repurposed if you only had the time. Patio furniture and containers are good examples, The Spruce says: If you have extra chairs and planters that others might be able to use with a little refurbishing, donate them to ClothingDonations.org so that your trash can be someone’s treasure.
Decluttering is difficult. People tend to let stuff pile up until they just don’t have any more room for all of those extra items of clothing, appliances, knick-knacks and books. The surplus stuff often builds up slowly — purchase by purchase, gift by gift — so you may not even notice how much junk you have until you need to move.
Holding on to all of that stuff can be anxiety-inducing. At the extreme, you may actually feel crowded by it, or overwhelmed by the cleaning and organizing tasks that you’d like to get done if you could only get some of that junk out of the way. That’s when the need to declutter has reached crisis proportions.
But there are ways to keep decluttering from getting to that crisis point, and strategies you can use to keep your stuff from getting out of hand on a regular basis. These are the “Dos and Don’ts” of decluttering, and they can save your sanity — or at least some of your space.
The first “Do” is to let go of the guilt that may be influencing you to keep things. Did an aunt give you an ugly sweater you’ll never wear? Did a friend give you a tacky souvenir? Items like these certainly may have memories or some sense of responsibility attached, but you should chuck them without a second thought if you don’t use and enjoy them.
Another “Do”? Tackle one room at a time. Limiting the decluttering project (or dividing into small chunks) allows you to focus and can keep you from getting overwhelmed by the bigger, whole-house task. You can even start with a closet to see the results of your efforts fast — and it might just inspire you to check more rooms off your list.
If you’re sorting through a clothes closet, try the “hanger trick” to determine what you can get rid of. Turn the open part of the hook of every garment toward you; as you wear and return some to the closet, turn the hanger the right way around. At the end of the season, anything still on a hanger with the point facing out is something you don’t want.
What’s a decluttering “Don’t”? “Don’t hold on to things because you’re going to sell them,” the OneCountry blog says. “Either sell them or don’t sell them, but don’t hold them onto them for a nonexistent point in the future when you might get around to selling them. Most things don’t hold as much monetary value as we think they do, regardless of what we paid for them.”
One final “Do”: The minute you decide to declutter, visit ClothingDonations.org to schedule a pickup. Not only will it help you commit to the task, it will give you a date to complete it. Put that date on your calendar — it could be the start to your new, uncluttered life.
Anyone who has attempted to declutter all or part of their home knows that it can be a time-consuming and often frustrating process. If you stop to think about each item’s sentimental or monetary value and/or get overwhelmed by the project’s scope, you’ll get bogged down. You won’t see progress — and progress is what provides the motivation to continue.
The solution? Donate early, and donate often! You can contact ClothingDonations.org and request a pickup every time you gather up as little as one, two, or three boxes or bags of stuff. When a truck is in your area, it will stop, pick up those donations and leave a tax receipt. You’ll see that junk almost magically start to disappear, and the results will help you gain momentum.
To conquer those sentimental second thoughts that can defuse your decluttering, follow the “keep, trash, donate” rule. Decide quickly what will and will not stay in your home, put it in a bag or box, and don’t look back. And know that anything of value left in the “donate” pile is going to a good cause — programs that benefit our nation’s veterans.
If you’ve been in the same place for a while and share it with family members, the scope of a decluttering task can easily become overwhelming. To stay on top of it, break the project down into smaller pieces by targeting a single room each week, or dedicating an hour or two every Saturday morning. Once a few boxes are packed, contact ClothingDonations.org. Before you know it, you’ll have eliminated junk from every room.
For an in-depth decluttering, revisit each room regularly. The first sweep may net only a few bags of tchotchkes and T-shirts, but by your second tour, you’ll be a more seasoned declutterer and less sentimental about the extra stuff overflowing out of your closets and drawers. Your donations may even get bigger as you start to enjoy your new, uncluttered space; arrange another pickup!
If you get really good at decluttering, relatives and friends may ask you to help out with their moves, estate liquidations and other big projects. You don’t have to help unless you want to, of course, but if there is ever a call for it, most ClothingDonations.org affiliates can pick up more than 20 boxes of stuff at a time. For more information on what we can and can’t pick up, visit the ClothingDonations FAQ.
After you’ve decluttered in earnest, you’ll see a variety of benefits. Not only will your space be easier to clean and retain less dust and allergens, you’ll probably also enjoy the subtle, simple psychological benefit of feeling less constricted or weighed down by your extra stuff. So start right away, and donate as often as you like!