Two summers ago my husband and I lived in a hotel for four months while my husband completed some training. The only things we brought with us were what we could fit in the back of my husband's truck. We both really enjoyed the simplicity of life that came without having the responsibility of all off our stuff. There is something wonderful about not having closets, garages, attics, etc. full of things we rarely or never use.
I am working on getting rid of the things we don't use and organizing the things we do have, so they will be organized in a way that we will utilize them. One of my favorite shows I used to watch every Saturday day morning was Clean Sweep. Growing up I loved the book, The Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room. I loved seeing how nice and organized their rooms looked after they cleaned.
How about all of you? Do have some things that could be given to Goodwill this week? Are you going to get organized along with me this week? Where should we start?
1. Go through your closet and other family members' closets and get rid of those items you haven't worn in the last year. If you have items to be mended - put them in a pile to either mend yourself this week or take to a tailor. I have a broken jacket zipper that has been broken for two years. I am going to finally take to have fixed this week. Do you have too many clothes? You really only wear a small percentage of your clothes. Get rid of those things you really don't like or that don't fit you properly. I go through my closet every couple months and come our with a sackful of things to giveaway. When you purchase clothes from now on buy quality and make sure it is something your really love not just like.
2. I have boxes and boxes of holiday decorations and honestly a lot of them are just cheesy and really aren't worth storing. Head out to your garage and go through your decorations and just keep your favorites. I've been hanging on to this rootbeer bottle that was a reindeer for years been never displayed it. Why? I'm not sure, but he was taken out with the recycling this year.
3. If you are a huge reader like I am, you probably have boxes and boxes of books. I have many of my old college books sitting in the garage. I say I may need them someday, but haven't in the last five years. My husband and I went through our books before our last move and got rid of all of the books that we read once but would never read again. We have decided to use the library now instead of purchasing books. We only buy books that we would read again and again. We still have some work to do on diwindling our collection, but we've begun the process.
4. We have a whole "technology" bin in our garage full of cords that we have no idea what they go to. This bin is scary, but needs to be tackled and organized. I figure if we haven't used the stuff in the last five years, it can be thrown away.
5. You probably all have a box or more full of old memories, keepsakes, etc. These are hard for a lot of people to part with. This past year we cleaned out my in-laws garage and it was hard for them to let go of stuff they never use or look at because there was a memory attached. My mother-in-law had a lot of her sons' artwork and report cards she couldn't let go of. I had her pick her favorites and then I scanned them in and put them onto a cd for her. You can also take pictures of the items and then give them away after. It is easier to do this process with someone who is not attached, because they can help you see you really don't need the items and will have a happier, simpler life without all the stuff weighing you down. Do you really need all of your old stuffed animals? Your rock collection?
6. Go through your cd and movie collection. If you haven't listened or watched the movies in the last two years, donate or sell them. Also, you can pick your favorite songs from the cds and put them on your computer and iPod and get rid of the cds.
7. I hate going through the filing cabinet, but it must be done at least once each year. I go through each year, usually after our taxes are finished and shred the last year of bills, receipts, etc. It you haven't created a filing cabinet system, you need to. It helps prevent all the clutter build-up on the desk, cabinet, or wherever yours is. I find going through the mail and organizing it int the file or recycle pile makes it easy to stay organized.
8. I only keep the last year of magazines in our magazine rack. It gets too out of control if not. Go through and thin out the magazines and recycle the old ones. You could also use the old ones for art project for your kids.
9. I am quickly learning how quickly toys can get out of control in a home. I just put away all the "baby" toys and only have out age appropriate toys to lessen the clutter. I also am giving away those toys that weren't such a hit and really aren't needed.
10. In our garage we have an area of chemicals, paint, oil, etc. that I don't know if we are ever going to use again. It needs to be disposed of properly.
This list seems overwhelming, but it is amazing what you can get done if you take a Saturday and do a major declutter or a couple hours each day. We were able to clean out my in-laws garage in a weekend. In their entire marriage they had never parked their cars in the garage and within a day they had both cars in the garage. Good luck and happy cleaning!