Decluttering is the process of deciding what to do with each and every item you have. It’s a lot of work, but it doesn’t need to be overwhelming! Here are some ideas for how to declutter.
When you’re organizing your house, you’re organizing YOUR house. This means that you make up the rules. You get to decide what goes in it, how much goes in it, and what to let go of. That’s a lot of power! To determine what you want to stay in your home, ask questions like:
I love easy-to-follow systems that let you organize anywhere. No two homes or businesses are the same, and over the years I’ve relied on the I CARE system to help clients get and stay organized. You can use it anywhere–homes, businesses–wherever there is stuff!
You’ve discovered your unique rules for what stays and what goes in your home, you’ve used one of last week’s techniques to jump-start your decluttering, and now you have a big pile of things to get rid of! But unless you have a plan for what to do with them, you’ll either have a junk pile that hangs around, or send things to the landfill.
Trash is always a last resort for unwanted objects. Before you toss things in the garbage, see if your clutter falls into any of these categories.
Why not? One woman made more than $30,000 selling things she no longer wanted on her minimalist journey! I don’t expect you to sell everything you own, but if you’re not going to use that ice cream maker anymore, sell it. Listing something on eBay or Facebook Marketplace doesn’t take more than a few minutes, and can get your item to someone who needs it (while adding a few bucks to your bank account).
Summer is a great time to spend outdoors. There’s the beach, sports, walks in the mountains, or gardening in your back yard. Most of the gear you need for your summer outdoor activities is stored in the garage. Why not make it easy to access so you spend as little time there as possible and more time out doing the activities you want to do? Get the most out of your garage by using these 6 tips.
1. Keep all the things you use for one activity together
It’s much faster to get out the door when all your gear for an activity is together. Let’s take going camping. It used to take us a couple of hours to get everything together from various places around the house and garage. Now we can have our car packed with all our camping gear for a weekend in about 20 minutes. We all have “camping clothes” that we can quickly throw in a bag. We have a separate box that we keep all our camping cutlery, dishes and kitchen supplies in that stays in the garage ready to go. All our camping gear is in one section of shelving within the garage, so we literally just have to back up our car and load everything straight in.
Garage storage can be difficult. The variety of shapes and sizes of items kept in garages can make storage tricky. Garages can be scary places. Spiders, stacks and stacks of boxes piled precariously, half finished projects, sports equipment and more. They can store forgotten treasures, tools and sports equipment, things to help you enjoy life, all of which you would use if you could reach them. Some garages have cars parked in them, but often garages end up as our last storage spot when we’ve run out of handy spots in our homes.
There are some things that we definitely should not be storing in the garage because they don’t cope well with temperature changes, humidity or pests. Some things to avoid storing in your garage are:
important documents – water damage, mice, other insect pests could make these documents useless
photos – water damage, mice, other insect pests could make these memories fade faster than your own memories
vinyl records – these will warp with the temperature changes
wine – needs cool even temperatures
food – mice and rats are excellent at finding small holes to enter your garage and will chew through packaging in a heart beat
delicate clothing – easily water damaged and don’t like uneven heat or humidity
paintings – easily water damaged and don’t like uneven heat or humidity
old paint – it will quickly become unusable with the heat
wooden furniture – it can be easily damaged if there is a leak
hazardous waste – be sure to drop off at a hazardous waste drop-off point
propane tanks – these need a lot of ventilation
and don’t store things in cardboard boxes – things inside can get water damaged if there is a leak.
Declutter your garage
Don’t use garage storage for stuff you no longer need or use. As a rule of thumb, everything in your garage (or substitute storage area) should be something that makes life easy or enjoyable. The things you own should be used. I’ve see many garages that house furniture from a deceased relative, from a move where two homes were merged, or the owners downsized their home but didn’t manage to downsize their belongings at the same time. If you have a specific reason you are keeping the items, for instance, someone has specifically asked for an item and given you a date by when they will pick it up, then by all means keep it if you don’t mind your garage space being used by that item. Otherwise, I recommend letting them go. This is the most important decision. After you’ve decided to let something go, you can decide how to let it go. You can sell, donate, or trash your items depending on the quality and state of the items. Do a little research if you think your items are worth selling, but resolve to let them go within a certain time frame. You don’t want the items still sitting in your garage because you couldn’t get the price you thought it they worth. That will cost you more in peace of mind than the items were ever worth.
Best way to store things in your garage
Garages are notorious for having difficult storage needs due to the variety of items and their very different shapes and sizes. To determine your needs, collect things together that will be kept together. Some categories might be sports equipment, gardening supplies and tools, DIY tools, camping gear. Once you have collected these things together, decide which area of the garage each type of item will live. Consider using vertical storage where possible and aim to get things off the floor. There are hooks and racks on the market for just about everything. You can reach out to a professional garage outfitter like Jay at Organized Garage Solutions or Gus at OrganizIt! for more ideas or help if you need to install garage organization systems. Make sure you’ve decluttered before you have them come over – otherwise they’ll be building a system for stuff you don’t need!
If you’re doing it yourself and need extra shelving, cabinets, or overhead storage, consider the size, shape and weight of the items you want to store. All of these things will affect the storage solutions you ultimately end up using. Pay attention to whether your storage solutions are fixed or adjustable. The best solutions will be adjustable so you can change them as your needs change over time.
Picture this. It’s 25,000 years ago. You pick up the sharpened stone you use for skinning animals and add it to the pouch you sling over your shoulder. It also has some animal sinew in it that you use for fire starter sticks. You roll up the hides you slept under last night and strap them to your back. You have a basket handy so you can collect berries on the way. It’s time to move to winter quarters. Your extended family moves with you.
Life was simple. Hard, but simple. There were no greeting cards, pictures, extra clothes nor shoes. No accumulated memories of a life time. No households of stuff when relatives passed away. There weren’t any books nor piles of paper, no projects – completed or not. There were no electronics nor thousands of accompanying accessories. There was no myriad of sporting paraphernalia. Nothing to declutter.
There was what you needed to survive. That’s it. Maybe you carried a small carving as a token or good luck charm. But mostly what you loved were your family and the experiences you shared. You carried virtually nothing to your grave.
Fast forward to today. According to research done in 2000, the average US household has tens of thousands of items in it.
I’m not suggesting that we go back to cave man days. Life is much more comfortable now, and more complicated. We spend a lot more time organizing our stuff – and getting overwhelmed by it.
So what do you do if you’re overwhelmed by your stuff but you really want to declutter? The number one priority is to reduce the amount of stuff you have. So how do we let go?