Creating a Life Free From Chaos

How to Actually Get Clutter Out of the House

How to Actually Get Clutter Out of the HouseThis week, I’ve been participating in the 31-day decluttering challenges on both the Living Well, Spending Less blog and A Bowl Full of Lemons blog, and I’m generating a lot of discards! But as good I can be about decluttering, there’s one step in the process that always trips me up: actually getting rid of the donation piles! Seriously, I will box up stuff and let it sit for months before I get around to actually donating it, which means my house is a lot fuller than it’s supposed to be!

Based on some of the messages I’ve been getting from readers, I’m not the only one with this problem! I took a break from the decluttering today to do some Pinterest searching and some brainstorming, and I put together some ideas for how we can actually get the clutter OUT of the house!

Trash or Recycle It

Donating is great, but sometimes you might find stuff in your house that is past its useful life. Be honest with yourself — would anyone really want your broken cassette player or those torn and stained sweatpants you wore for your baby’s first 3 months of life? While I hate sending things to their final resting place in the landfill, remember that some things NEED to be retired permanently. I encourage you to recycle as much as possible — paper, many plastics, glass, old electronics, computers, cell phones, batteries, light bulbs and clothing. Check with your city to find out where you can recycle all these things in your area. But if it comes down to the item sitting in a box while you look for weeks for a suitable recycling location versus just chucking it in the trash, as long as it’s not a hazardous material, just chuck it in the trash and get on with your life.

Sell It

I’ve got some pretty hefty sell piles, and it’s time to either get them sold or get them gone. My sell piles are divided into two categories. One: kids’ stuff that I can sell in the semi-annual kids’ consignment sales I participate in locally, and two: stuff to sell on local Facebook sale groups, neighborhood sale boards, Craigslist and the like. I keep my consignment sale items pretty organized and contained. Having participated in several of these consignment sales, I’ve got a good idea of what sells and what doesn’t, so I organize accordingly. I do well in these sales, so it’s worth it to me to store things for a bit so I can have access to the large crowds these consignment events draw.

It’s the Category Two stuff I have more problems with. During decluttering, I’ll run across things I just know will sell, so I set them aside to list. They sit there for a few days weeks months before I get around to taking a photo and listing them on a sale site, such as my neighborhood board or a local Facebook sale group. If I don’t have any takers right away, I tend to forget to repost the items elsewhere, so they sit for another few weeks months before I come back to them, thinking, “gee, I should try to sell that again.” Can you see where this ends up?

Successful sales require organization, whether you’re selling a product or some discards from your closet. Here’s a method I ran across that I think I’m going to try. I’m going to write down each item I want to sell, along with the date I’m listing it and price. I’ll include what sites I’ve posted it to. If it sells, great! I’ll mark it off the list. If it doesn’t, I’ll consider lowering the price, posting it on additional sites or donating. Here’s the important part: each item will have a drop-dead sell-by date. I’m thinking one month as a trial. If it hasn’t sold by its sell-by date, it goes in the donation drop, no regrets, no take-backs.

Donate It

My donate boxes are my nemesis, though they should be my allies. I’ve identified the problem — my husband wants me to take photos of everything I’m donating so at tax time we can list it all out and check charity deductions. I’ll chuck stuff in a box… and then it sits there because I’m too lazy to go grab a camera, take photos and load it all into the car. I’ve tried taking photos with my phone or iPad as I toss stuff in the box, but then the photos never seem to make it off the device and into their proper computer folders. I’ve tried dedicating an old digital camera just for charity donations, but then I never seem to have the “charity camera” near the right donation box or it’s out of batteries, which then reminds me WHY we never use that camera anymore because it’s a battery hog that lasts like 10 minutes before it needs new batteries.

So I’m going to go with what could be considered the obvious route here — spend a quality hour or two catching up on all the piles of charity donations scattered around the house, photographing them with the good camera (and donating the battery-hogging camera), and dropping them all off at once this week. Then I’ll set up ONE charity box, and when it’s full, use the good camera to photograph and empty the box, then drop off that charity load. Rinse and repeat. Not only will having only one charity box take care of a lot of random piles around the house, it’ll force me to deal with it more often. Such a simple solution, and yet I’ve been so resistant.

Your Turn

What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to getting the clutter out of the house? Is the problem in the deciding or in the execution?

How to Actually Get Clutter Out of the House