One of the biggest hurdles to getting your home or any other space organized is the clutter that we all seem to accumulate over the years. Decluttering can be a daunting process, especially if you have a lot of excess items hanging around. Sometimes just thinking about how much there is to look through and the decisions that will have to be made around each thing you own can be enough to keep you from starting to begin with! However, one thing I have learned over the years is that even with as badly as you may want something, all the dreaming and wishing in the world won’t make it happen. You really just have to start and take action steps in the direction you want to go. If you don’t take action, nothing will ever happen. So what is the easiest way to start? Generally by implementing just one change at a time, and making that change as easy to follow as possible.
One of the most basic changes I have made in my efforts to declutter and keep my home organized is to have two basic bins in almost every room of the house – a “trash bin” and a “donate bin”. This way, if I come across an item that no longer serves a purpose I can instantly make a decision on whether the item should just be tossed, or if it could serve a role for someone else and be donated. I am a recycler by nature and have a really hard time throwing away a perfectly good item if it’s not broken or completely used up (like toiletries, food, etc.). Everyone in my family is the same way, and so it’s easy to see how there can be a tendency to hold onto items which are no longer needed just because of not wanting to be wasteful (or because you just never know if you might need it someday). This mentality, along with the sheer enormity of the amount of stuff I had to deal with initially, was honestly what kept me from getting started decluttering in the first place. However, if I know that an item in good condition that I no longer need has a place to go where it can be of use to someone else, then I am much more comfortable in letting it go.
Having these two bins handy not only helps in my decluttering process, but it also helps save time and lowers my stress levels. Picture yourself looking for something important in one of your more cluttered rooms. You pick up one thing after another in your search for that one elusive item you need. Let’s pretend all those items that you handled while searching were just left scattered around, even if you didn’t think they were important. Now imagine you go back a week later to look for something else. You now have to pick up and handle each of those items again in your search for the next thing you want. What a waste of time with all that repetition! Plus it is easy to get stressed out just thinking about how long it will take to find what you are looking for, and if you are even going to find it since there is so much stuff to look through!
Now let’s consider that you are going to search for that elusive item again, but instead of just pushing things off to the side or moving them from one pile to another, you actually think about each item you handle and ask yourself “Is this important and do I need it?” If the answer is yes, place it where it would make most sense for it to belong so you can find it easily later. If the answer is no, immediately decide to either throw it away or donate it. Even if you only tackle 2-3 items each time you are looking for something else, you have now made progress in your decluttering journey by sorting out those things you had to handle before you found what you wanted!
Once something has been placed in either the trash bin or the donate bin, you don’t have to think about it again. You know where it needs to go and how it needs to be taken care of. That thing is no longer cluttering your visual or your physical space and your mind can begin to clear as well. Plus you will save time by only having to address the bins once they are full, instead of each and every time you have something to get rid of.
Sometimes these bins fill within a day if I am really tackling a room and decluttering on purpose. Other times the bins will take weeks or months to fill if I am not actively decluttering an area. But they do eventually fill, and when I have a full bin I then take care of it all at once. If it is a trash bin it gets dumped and thrown out with the next trash pickup. If it is a donate bin, then I inventory the items and assign them an approximate price (for tax reduction purposes) and place them in my Jeep for the next time I run to town. I then pop by Goodwill on my next errand run and drop off what has accumulated. This evening I just loaded the back of my Jeep with 2 bags of clothes from the bin in our bedroom closet (which has been filing over the past 4 months) and included an old vacuum cleaner (which still runs but never gets used since we got a new one). It feels so good to let go of those things and get them out of my home!
I encourage you to take this simple step in order to start decluttering now. Get two bins and designate them “trash” and “donate”. Place them in convenient areas in your home. You don’t need to have a set in most rooms like I do, but at least have a few placed around your home so that it will be easy for you to utilize them. Make a point to determine what to do with each unused thing you come across, instead of just pushing it to the side to deal with later. And then once you have made your decision, put it out of your mind and move on to the next thing.
And have fun with this! Make these bins a part of your décor and match them to your space. I typically buy some cute wicker or fabric baskets from Target for my donate bins and a small room matching trash can for the trash bin. Just because you are sorting things you no longer want does not mean that it has to be done in an ugly way.
I would love to hear what you think about this tip and how it is working for you once you try it. Please feel free to leave a comment below, or you can email me directly. Remember, just one step is all it takes to get started!
All the best,