6 Decluttering Strategies that Work for Me

Simplifying / Friday, May 16th, 2014

We’re in a state of transition at our house and I’ve been decluttering like a madwoman. Here’s why:

  • My daughter Lindsey is graduating from college this weekend. She has taken a job in Kansas City (yay!) and will be moving home for a bit. She’s moving to a bedroom in the basement in order to have her own space. That bedroom is currently full of exercise equipment and castoff furniture and its closet is full of old scrapbooking supplies and the kids’ childhood toys. That’s been my first place of attack and it’s almost done.
  • My parents are selling their house in KC to live in Florida full-time so Lindsey’s old room will become a guest room for them. We’ve never needed a guest room before, as so many of our friends and family live in town. That room is currently full of Lindsey’s high school clothes and keepsakes and even some childhood holdovers. The furniture is white youth furniture with a twin bed, i.e. not very workable for a guest room. That room will come next.
  • My son Grant is leaving for college in the fall, so we’ll need to sort through what to keep at home, what he’ll take to college and what we need to get rid of. We’ll be attacking that beast (and it’s a beast, let me assure you) later this summer.

Like I said…transition. Or rather, multiple transitions. Rooms, people, cities, and entire phases of our lives.

Honestly, for someone who likes to declutter on a regular basis, I’m amazed at all the stuff there is to go through. And this time feels like such a major undertaking that I’ve been putting into practice every decluttering and simplifying I have in my arsenal at once.

Here’s what it looks like.

Never let a good box go to waste.

When I end up with a good box in my possession because I’ve ordered something large in the mail or made a Costco run (always accept their offer for a box!) I seize the opportunity to fill it with items to donate.

Sometimes the process of going through a whole room or even a whole closet feels overwhelming, but filling a box is easier than that. So much easier. So a good box coming into my life means a few unwanted or unused items exiting it.

Take advantage of easy donation options.

We have a number of charities that regularly come into our neighborhood to pick up curbside or even from the porch.

When one of those postcards arrives in the mail letting me know that they’ll be in the area, it serves as a catalyst for me to gather some stuff (even just a box or bag full) to set out. Again, little wins.

And if I feel like doing the drop off instead, there are a couple of drive-through places nearby that will take a single bag, a whole carload, or anything in between. That’s an option our family takes advantage of on a semi-regular basis. (See here for information on checking the legitimacy of individual charities if you have questions about that.)

Use Craigslist free section ads.

The Craigslist free section is great for things that are difficult to sell or would bring very little. This week I placed an ad for a TV that worked but was old (pre flat screen era). I knew it didn’t have much value and many charities won’t take electronics, especially old ones. I put it on Craigslist for free and it was gone by evening.

I’ve also used the free section of CL to get rid of a rusted-out hot water heater and to get a free demo of our patio. Usually, once I have a taker, I give them our address and just put the item in the driveway or on the porch. No meet up is even necessary.

Use social media.

Occasionally I’ve posted on my Facebook page if I have something that I think my friends or family might be interested in. This week I posted about some of those toys in the basement bedroom’s closet. A friend of mine took the Legos for her nephew and another friend suggested our church’s rummage sale for the Wii Guitar Hero and Rock Band games and instruments. I’m meeting up with the lady in charge of that next week to pass them along.

That worked out really well, although I try to use the Facebook option sparingly. I don’t want to turn my friends’ Facebook feeds into a swap meet.

Declutter and then declutter some more.

When I’m really serious about getting an area cleared out, I go through it once, get everything donated or sold, and then go through it again. Because here’s the thing: when you’re done with your first sweep and everything is out of your house, you get a little decluttering high.

Truly, the feeling is great so that it’s a great time to do a quick second pass and get rid of just a few more things. It makes your decluttering effort that much more effective and that second sweep hardly takes any time at all.

Skip the sale or write-off (sometimes).

I’ve written a lot about selling on Craigslist and eBay or – as an alternative – using It’s Deductible to value donations for charity. But when I’m in a hurry to get rid of a lot of stuff quickly, I don’t let those things (which take time) get in the way of my decluttering.

In fact, it’s good to decide from the outset whether you’re more concerned with making money or getting rid of stuff. If it’s the latter, don’t let a few bucks come between you and the great feeling of space and accomplishment you get from decluttering.

4 Replies to “6 Decluttering Strategies that Work for Me”

  1. Hi Julie, loved this post. I wish I could declutter my basement and kid’s rooms! The problem is my sons (aged 22, 25, and 30!!!) live on their own, but still won’t let me get rid of their entertainment consoles, video games, etc. They have an attachment to the items and everytime I bring up the idea of selling or donating, they get upset. Unfortunately, they live in apartments out of town, and tend to move alot, so until they have permanent homes I feel like the wicked stepmother threatening to donate or get rid of their items. Guess I will hold out another few years. At some point, if we sell our home, the time will come when a decision must be made. Their bedrooms are also intact, as if they just left for the day! The youngest is graduating next weekend and has a job locally, but planning to get his own apartment. I bet nothing in his room will be touched either!!!

    1. Oh Sherri, I feel your pain! My son joked to his sister that “Mom is throwing away our childhood.” lol I’m keeping certain things (books, train set, American girl stuff and wooden doll cradle) but I’m reclaiming the rest of my home!

      For some reason my son is reluctant to let me get rid of his consoles, video games, etc. too. We even have Nintendo 64 (I’ll be you do too) and he wants to hang onto it. Boys must be funny about that stuff.

      Good luck!

  2. It must be decluttering season! I’m going through our home for the next month or so. I try to spend 15 to 20 minutes on an area daily. I feel like I’m making progress without getting sidetracked from my other responsibilties.

    I’ve been dropping our stuff off at Goodwill without documenting it, too. At this point, I just want to move stuff along.

    1. Nice to know I’m in good company, Barb. I guess there’s a reason they call it spring cleaning, huh? Happy simplifying!

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