Many people consider spring cleanup the big annual event, but let’s face it, once a year is just not enough. Our homes are not only the place where we live, they serve as entertainment venues, schoolroom, and office. With winter just around the corner, it’s a great time to thin out your space and prepare for the holidays.
Here are some ideas to help you reclaim your space.
EASY DOES IT CHORES AND REWARDS
Do you need incentives to keep you on task? you’re not alone; many people prefer a rewards program. Stay on task by:
- Making your tasks small and achievable. Clean out a single dresser drawer, a cabinet, or start small with a shelf.
- Rewarding yourself after completion. That could mean treating yourself to your favorite warm beverage or a half hour in a massage chair.
By keeping the task small no one gets overwhelmed and knowing the job won’t take long, tasks are approached cheerfully. This is especially helpful when kids are involved in the chore list.
LET’S BEGIN: THE OBJECTIVE
First things first:establish your objective. What is it you want to accomplish? Write it down: I want to reduce the clutter in my bedroom, or I want to have room in my garage to park my car, or I want to be able to find my favorite skillet without pulling out every pot and pan. Find your reason and keep it in the back of your mind to help you stay focused.
BREAK IT DOWN
You have an objective–now, break it down. What’s it going to take to make you feel successful? Perhaps it’s everything is off your dresser, all toiletries off the vanity, or storage boxes sorted, thinned and labeled. You can slice off a bigger piece as an objective, but to get you there, make your chores small.
Decide what project you want to complete this morning or today. Make it manageable and it will be more enjoyable. What reward will you earn? Settle this right out. Whatever the chore, think about the process: you’ll sort through items to keep, dispose of, or donate. Have a place to put these items while you are working on the task.
THE ONE-YEAR RULE
If your objective is to declutter any part of your home, garage ,or yard, define your mindset. What do you need, what do you want, what can easily do without?
If you haven’t used it within the past year, the chances are, you don’t really need it. That applies to furniture, clothing, housewares, tools, etc. What’s reasonable for you? One year? Two? Set it and stick to it.
Remember, most of these goods do not have to be thrown away, these items can be donated. Consider donating to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. We accept housewares, furniture, appliances, building materials, used paint, lighting, tools, picture frames, cleaning supplies and chemicals. (Our Gresham ReStore also accepts clothing.)
HOW TO LET GO: FAMILY PHOTOS AND OTHER EMOTIONAL ATTACHMENTS
Some may take exception to the one-year rule when it comes to old family photos and heirlooms. Certainly, if these photos bring you joy and you look at them regularly, then by all means keep them. But if you are holding onto items in case someone else might want them in the distant future, it’s time to reconsider.
Photos – Scan or copy photos digitally. Digital photos don’t take much space, and they are much easier to share. Tip: When scanning photos, make sure to title them with the person’s name and approximate year the photo was taken. Old photos of a family standing next to a Model T are much less valuable if you don’t know who those people are. Another way to identify these photos is to make notes on the back, then scan both sides.
Heirlooms – Ask your family if anyone would like to own them or be caretaker for a while. If no one wants the piece, one blogger suggests giving it a final “victory lap” by intentionally using it one last time, taking photos with notes, then packing it off to donate. You don’t have to be a repository for your family history if it’s cluttering up your space and not bringing you joy.
LIVING ROOM LIVABLE?
The KonMari Method about asking if an item ‘sparks joy’ is still a pretty handy tool not only for clothing and housewares, but also when thinking about furniture and appliances. When you walk into a room do you feel joy? Comfort? Ease? Refine your space so it’s the way you want to experience it. Don’t be afraid to lose an item to the donation bin. Someone else may love it!
IN THE KITCHEN
Do you need six skillets? Pull out all your pots and pans and think about how you use them. Can some do double duty? If you’re not great at making omelets, get rid of that omelet pan. Never going to make another cheesecake? You won’t need that springform pan then. Select the ones to keep and donate the rest.
Fridge. Reach way back there and remove those expired, half-used jars of jam and Yumm! sauce. Check the doors and freezer, too. Wipe it down and refill. Replace the odor-eliminating box of baking soda with a fresh box.
Pantry. You aren’t doing anyone any favors by holding on to expired spices. Here’s a tip: Select an annual holiday when you normally do a lot of baking like Thanksgiving. As you purchase new spices, write the date on the container. The following year, replace all your old spices. Make it an annual event.
Remember: canned goods expire too. Check those dates. Mind you, some canned goods will still be edible after the expiration date, though maybe less nutritious and less palatable. You be the judge. If you would be put off by an expired date, there’s no sense keeping it on your shelves. Definitely dispose of any dented cans- it could mean the seal is compromised.
Tip: Try grouping things in your pantry. Use separate tubs for all flour, sugars, oils, candles, etc.
This is a tough one. If you try to keep the lights off when you walk through your garage because you can’t stand to look at it, then it’s time to do something. Turn on the light, select a wall or a smaller area, and begin to sort. If there’s a tool or item that you doubt you will ever use again, put it in the donate box. Someone else looking to pick up a new skill would love to have it at a discounted ReStore price. (Remember those chores and rewards? Keep the task doable within a designated time period–like within an hour or an afternoon. Select a portion of the garage, or specific shelves in the garage or workroom. Work out from there, making sure you reward yourself when each task is accomplished before heading onto the next.)
OUT THE DOOR, TO THE STORE
You have a lot of options of where you can donate goods, and of course, we suggest the Habitat for Humanity ReStore because every donation helps build more affordable, sustainable homes.
ReStores in Portland, Beaverton, Gresham and Vancouver accept new and used donated furniture, appliances, housewares and home goods like rugs, lighting, picture frames and mirrors, dishes, pots and pans, plus hand and power tools, building materials, windows, doors and even used paint, furniture polish, household cleaners and chemicals. We’re open 10am to 6pm Wednesday through Monday (closed Tuesdays only). Plus, we pick up donations of items too large to fit in your car. It’s easy to schedule a pickup online at pdxrestore.org, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or even call Donation Information at 971-229-8888. In all cases, you will be asked to include a photo of the items.
TICK IT OFF
Look at you! You’ve just completed your first objective: Find out about how to declutter your space. As you begin the next step, consider the end result. You are about to feel lighter and tidier, your surroundings will be more in sync with your current needs and tastes. You’re about to bring joy to those who discover your donated item(s), and if you choose the ReStore for your donations, you’re helping to build strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter. We hope to see you soon at the ReStore.