More than just a Spring Clean – Declutter your Life

May 19, 2015 Katja Presnal

 

Declutter your life

It is a great time for a “spring clean,” but I would like to think of it from a larger point of view. Spring clean can significantly help you to live life to fullest better, but did you know that when you donate your stuff to Goodwill, the revenue from the sale of your donations also helps fund job training and placement opportunities for people with disabilities and disadvantages directly in your community? That’s cleaning with a purpose.

I admit. It is tough sometimes to get rid of things. Because “things” are not always just things, they are memories.

The wedding gift you hate is still a wedding gift, and you feel like you are holding on to your marriage, not just to a pair of candle sticks you got 17 years ago and never even liked that much. The travel souvenirs you got from the epic trip are not just cheap bazaar junk, it reminds you of the time when you were still young and free, and you still want to hold on, and feel young and free. The swing set in your backyard isn’t just playground equipment, it reminds you every day of the day your firstborn was swinging on it the first time, and you are not ready to let her go, even though now her firsts include boys, driving permits and her own epic trips outside the country.

I get it. Our “stuff” is sometimes much more than “stuff.” But keeping the wedding gifts for eternity won’t guarantee a happy marriage, and you are getting older each day regardless how much you want to hold on to the things that you had when you were younger. Our kids outgrow clothes, things, and sadly even their homes, and move out one day.

Life moves on.

Holding on to some of the “stuff” makes us more likely to live in the past, instead of in the moment and looking into the future. I don’t know if this is studied anywhere, but I just know it from the personal experience. We have been moving on an average every 2 years, and I am glad the moves have helped us to adapt minimal lifestyle. I feel much happier knowing that things don’t make me happy. Yes, I still get excited when I find something I really like and I can buy it, but I buy much more purposefully now, because I know how difficult purging can be later on. Letting go of old things can be very therapeutic, and helps us to live more in a way we want to.

We all have made bad decisions when we have bought some things for our homes or for ourselves, but why is it that we waste/spend too much money on new things we don’t really need, but sometimes have such a hard time getting rid of things that we’ve had for years, and don’t even like, because we feel we are wasting it? (Answer: because we feel we never got “money’s worth” of it). Think of the ugly sofa/sweater/rug/pottery that you paid a lot of money for, but had buyer’s remorse almost immediately you got it home. I guarantee you – your life will be happier when you don’t have that thing in your life!

But keep the wedding memories you like, frame the old travel photos or the scarf you got from the epic trip, and instead of saving the swing set, sell it and give the money for your daughter’s “epic trip”. Save the things that you can find a place in your home (box in the garage isn’t a proper “place”), and get rid of everything else. You will always have your memories, even when you let go of some of the old junk that the memories are attached to. Free yourself from the stuff, and focus in surrounding yourself only with things you like. (Not just with things you “got on sale and thought it was a good deal”).

Clean with a purpose to make your life better and help others too! Here are my simple tips I live by.

1. Eliminate the amount of stuff that comes to your house

The best way to start decluttering your life is to eliminate the amount of stuff that comes into your home.

I typically have these rules:
– I buy things that are timeless and will last for a long time and I rather buy better quality than look the price tag for these type of things.
– I buy things that are trendy or things I know will have an “expiration date,” meaning I will not want to keep them forever. These things are either still good quality so I know I can resell them and get some of my money back before the trend is completely over. OR I buy dirt cheap from sales or from second hand stores so I can donate the products without feeling I wasted money.
– I don’t go shopping “for fun.”

2. Every day I’m decluttering

Minimalistic living is a lifestyle and does require daily/weekly upkeep.

I have a few tips for this:
– Every time you buy something, think if there is something you can get rid of.
– Create a collection place for things you no longer use, even if you don’t have time to take them to Goodwill or sell them immediately. A box in a garage is great for stuff, a bag in your closet for old clothes works great. You know it is time for a bigger purge when these start filling up!
– When you try on clothing and it doesn’t fit, don’t put it back to your closet, purge immediately. You will not remember to do it later.

3. Periodical Purging

This could also be called “the spring clean” – a periodical cleaning to get rid of stuff. Time to empty the recycling boxes and take things you want to donate to Goodwill, or sell things you want on online auction sites, or even by hosting a garage sale. This will not be as daunting task if you have been already doing the steps #1 and #2.

If you haven’t been slowly purging your things, here are the best tips to get you going:
– Have four separate piles for stuff: to sell, to recycle, to donate and to toss. (Hopefully you have been buying consciously, and there is almost nothing to toss.)
– Have all of these piles/bins with you and go room by room. In our family even the kids can do this for their things.
– Circle time in your calender not just for the purge itself, but also one day for getting rid of things, or for hosting a garage sale. It’s always a great idea to first host a garage sale, and then on the end of the day pack the rest, and take to Goodwill.
– Read more tips for doing the spring clean in your closet for your clothes.

Check what you can donate
This is what kind of donations Goodwill takes:

Donating items that are in working condition, contain all of their pieces and parts, and are free of stains and rips is the best way to ensure that your goods do the most good. While we accept most clothing and household items, there are a few things we can’t accept – such as items that have been recalled, banned or do not meet current safety standards. In addition, if you’re looking to donate specialty items such as computers, vehicles or mattresses, it’s best to give your local Goodwill agency a call first to find out any rules or restrictions around these items.

goodwill

The photo above? That was when we moved from Sweden back to New York and had a local charity to come and pick up two truck loads of furniture and stuff for donations. Starting a new life in New York was so much easier without all that stuff!

About Goodwill

Thanks to the programs and support services made possible by donations of clothes and household items to Goodwill, more than 261,000 people earned jobs in 2013 – that’s one person finding a job every 27 seconds of every business day. So you’re literally donating your stuff AND helping to create jobs.

Disclosure: this is a sponsored post by Goodwill, but my opinions are my own, and I have been donating stuff to Goodwill for years.

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Katja Presnal

Katja Presnal shows how to live Nordic inspired life to the fullest and plan your dream life. Katja owns Presnal5 strategic marketing intelligence agency and wants to help marketing professionals to combine a dream career and dream life via freelance work.Katja is an award-winning marketing strategist, and a well-known speaker. Katja has lived in five different countries, and seven states in the USA. Her three children were all born in different countries within three years. When not working or jet-setting the world, Katja is at home cooking big family dinners.She has been featured in NY Times, Glamour, Redbook, Fodor's, Forbes and Woman's Day magazines among many other national and international publications and written for MTV3 and Lifetime TV networks.

Comment (1)

  1. We have many local agencies that I regularly give stuff to. I kind of like the hyperlocal aspect. I have given stuff to Goodwill, though.

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