Jan 17, 2019

Six Ways to Clean Up and Clean Out This Year

Liz Stitt

Is one of your goals this year to clean up, organize, or declutter? It’s a great idea to make it a constant goal to put things in your life where they belong—whether that’s in a drawer, in a storage tub, hung up in the closet, or donated.

It can be difficult to decide what to get rid of and what to keep. If you’re struggling to clear out your stuff, here are a few ideas I’ve found to help me declutter and stay organized all year long.

  1. Put things in a box. I know it sounds simple, but it works (and thanks to my cousin for the tip!). Do you have something you used to like a lot or that you’re attached to, but you know you don’t use it, you won’t ever use it, and it’s just taking up space? You don’t have to donate it right away, but you can start the process. Put it in a closed box or bag. Then wait for a few months. If you don’t pull it out or think about it in the next month or two, you likely don’t really need it. When you’re ready, just take that box and donate it right away. And maybe don’t peek in the box before donating, or you might second-guess how much you “need” that item.
  2. Take a picture and share the story. Sometimes I’m overly sentimental with an item just because it was mine. Feeling sentimental can make it hard to donate something even when you know you should. So take a picture! You can still keep the sentiment even if the furniture no longer matches your décor or the outfit no longer fits. A friend even suggested writing down the “story” of that item—why you liked it and what significance it had in your life. It may seem silly, but saving the story of the item might help you let the item go.
  3. Give items to a family member. So those sentimental things . . . they keep getting at us, don’t they? But sometimes we just don’t have room to keep everything. Consider a family member who may also share similar sentiments or memories of an item. Maybe they need what you have. Share it!
  4. Keep it! “What?” you say. I’m not saying you should get rid of everything! One of the best things I’ve done to declutter is to decide what I actually do like and want. Some of my old clothes are now in a dress-up box for nieces and nephews. My old toys and dolls? They’re saved for children to play with as well. I am not a minimalist. I do keep things so that I don’t have to rebuy. And I keep things that are important to me. But I also try to know why I’m keeping what I’m keeping.
  5. Organize it. Part of the problem of “stuff” is not knowing what to do with it or how to keep it. Take some time to find a place for everything and put everything in its place. You may want to check out a thrift store or discount store for storage shelves, containers, or boxes. Consider putting trays in drawers to separate items. Find boxes to store what you may only need seasonally. Finding the right storage solution for the things you do want to save can help you stay better organized and keep out the stuff you don’t need.
  6. Find a cause you want to support. Consider donating used items to a cause instead of throwing them away. Having a specific purpose for a donation helps me feel like I am giving something new life. I donate to Deseret Industries because I know that those who work there are receiving job training. Deseret Industries also provides support to many community organizations, so items you donate may end up at the local homeless shelter, women’s shelter, or refugee resettlement agency. I also have other causes I love to donate to, and I save some of my items for those donation events. It feels better knowing my donation is put to good use.

Do you have other ideas for cleaning up and cleaning out? Share them at blog@deseretindustries.org or on the Deseret Industries Facebook page.

Liz is an organizer, content creator, and people connector. She is a regular declutterer (not an actual word) because she owns stuff but doesn’t want it to take over her life and home. She works in product management, but her favorite job is being a professional aunt. When Liz isn’t enjoying the great outdoors or volunteering, she loves reading. She blogs at LizWritesThis.