If you’re looking for organizing projects now that you have more time at home, we’ve found five items anyone can let go of today to reduce clutter.
Some of us may have already used this extra time to organize (and maybe even reorganize) our homes. If that’s you, great, but not all of us have been able to get to it, and I hear you.
If you’re in that rut, professional organizer Shara Kay says it’s a great idea to start your cleaning process by getting rid of what she described as “low lying fruit.” These are everyday items that won’t require too much emotional investment.
“The initial win can give you the confidence to move on to larger and more complicated spring cleaning projects. If you get stuck, professional organizers are just a call away,” she said.
Chances are you have these five items you can toss out.
Toss Expired Items to Organize
Kay suggests you go through your kitchen cabinets and look for those cans you might have held on to for far too long. This is that emergency you’ve been waiting for. And if you’re not using your stuff now, you never will!
For example, she suggests you let go of any dried spices and supplements with expiration dates before 2020.
Rose Lounsbury, a minimalist-minded professional organizer, suggests looking at your bathroom too.
“For most people, this is an area that isn’t very emotionally charged. A lot of times when we have clutter, it’s emotional,” she explained.
Get rid of expired medications, which should not be disposed of in the trash. Check online for local hazardous waste disposal options.
Lounsbury got started on her minimalism journey in 2012 when she found herself asking: “how many towels do I need,” while living in cramped quarters with her husband and triplets. It’s a question that has since turned into a Ted talk, where she expands on minimalism – the practicing of living with less.
Toss Old Makeup to Beautify Your Space
While we’re on the topic of the bathroom, why not toss out old shampoo and conditioner bottles. Get rid of what you know you won’t use even if it’s not out of date. Offer it to a friend and leave it for them at the curb.
Then there’s our makeup. I’m sure we all have piles of products we once used.
“Most of us are not going to have emotional anxiety about removing towels or shampoo,” said Lounsbury, also known as the Simplicity Coach, the name of her company.
This is also an excellent time to look at your brushes or lip and eye pencils and toss out older items. A quick search online will give you advice on the shelf life of your products.
Remove nail polishes that have become clumpy, and more. As a bonus, this will either give you more counter space or free up your drawer to find the things you should be using, such as the latest spring color from the drugstore. If it makes you happy, it’s an essential purchase!
Recycle Stacks of Magazines and Newspapers
You know that stack of newspapers and magazines you’ve been saving for a later time. Well, this is that later time, and now is the perfect moment to go through and decide if you are going to read them.
“I really just keep the most recent month’s issue of the magazine and let go of the rest,” Lounsbury said.
Kay has another suggestion that might help you.
“Try setting a rule like ‘I’ll keep no more than three issues of any publication that is archived online,’” she said.
To keep your stack from piling up again, Lounsbury suggests you designate a box or bin to keep your magazine stash contained. If it gets full, then it’s time to toss older publications.
“You’re not a doctor’s office; you are not supplying reading material, it’s just you,” she said.
But what if you were saving all those said magazines because you wanted to try out some new recipes?
“We’ve all done it,” Lounsbury assures me.
Her solution is to create a recipe binder. Go online, purchase a binder, plastic sheet protectors, and tabs.
Clip only the pages you need from your magazine stash and throw out the rest.
Lounsbury takes it one step further and suggests you do the same with your cookbooks. It’s more than likely you only have a few recipes you use in any given cookbook. Photocopy or scan those recipes on your phone and print them out.
Once you’ve got your recipes, you can separate them by different categories.
“I think we own one cookbook and basically use it all the time,” she said. “Let’s say you put a recipe in your folder, and no one likes it, then you take it out. It’s the best way to keep recipes, even in the digital age.”
For people who are willing to give up paper. (We’re looking at you e-reader lovers!) There are apps for storing the latest recipes in your mobile device. It’s easy to find versions of what you love and import them with the click of a button and a quick toss of your paper. Paprika is one version to try.
Toss Coupons and Fliers to Reduce Clutter
Even though we live in a digital society, that hasn’t stopped the paperwork from somehow piling up. Many people are overwhelmed with the stuff.
Right now, we’re all safe at home, so what better time than to go through it all.
Chances are, 90 percent of what’s in your stash is old and no longer useful. Lounsbury has a simple solution: shred it if it has identifying information. Otherwise, drop it in the recycle bin.
Before you do, ask yourself: is it relevant, is it the most recent document, and can I find it elsewhere?
Lounsbury also suggests you make sure you don’t need any of the paperwork for tax purposes.
Otherwise, “this is a great time turn on some music and do a shred party at home,” she said.
Replace Old Technology
Lounsbury likes to tell her clients to take the less is more approach. Letting go of old cell phones and gadgets is one way to accomplish that.
How many of us have held on to old cell phones or the different iterations of mp3 players? Remember those, or am I just dating myself?
Those trinkets can easily be disposed of through various e-recycling programs. Some people, however, have told Lounsbury they are skeptical about letting go of them because personal information can be retrieved.
“Open up the hardware and drill through it, ” she said. “You could also wipe the phone, or if you trust a person to wipe it clean for you.”
Consider putting your items in a bag and dropping them off at Best Buy, which has an e-recycling program. A lot of communities also have e-recycle programs, so check with your waste management company or ask your local charities.
“I think very few places are mining for your data, they are in the business of helping people,” she said.We hope this inspires you to keep your cleaning adventure going. If you need more tips, we have the best advice to stop bad clutter habits. If you’re working from home, we have tips to organize your temporary office space.
But maybe what you have in mind is finally tackling your cluttered garage. Learn how to with our three easy steps!