If you have old eyeglasses that are still useful (just not to you), consider donating them to your local Lion’s Club or another charity (look online for addresses). Particularly if your prescription has changed, these eyeglasses are no longer useful to you. Even if your current glasses get damaged you won’t be able to wear an old prescription.
Allow the lenses to help someone who would otherwise be unable to afford glasses.
Only if this doesn’t apply to you: Toss three things from your junk drawer.
At one point did you notice that you were missing several forks, spoons, or knives, so you went out and purchased a new set or some replacement pieces? Maybe you still have the mismatched set from your first apartment.
Because these items are so useful, you may have never bothered to weed through your flatware. However, if the flatware organizer in your kitchen drawer is overflowing with forks after you empty the dishwasher, it may be time to pick out the excess.
Like with plates, consider how many people are in your home, how often you entertain, and how often you wash the dishes and flatware to figure out what you need to keep on hand.
If in your decluttering, you’ve noticed pushpins, thumbtacks, and map pins in the junk drawer, with your office supplies, and in a few “catch all” bowls, carefully gather them together and put them in the location you are most likely to go looking for them (when in doubt, office area).
If you can’t think of the last time you used a pushpin, consider that you don’t need to have a tray of them in your home. And, if you use pushpins, but rarely, you don’t need the desk organizer filled with a hundred pushpins.
Even reusable cleaning cloths that you pop in the washing machine can become thin, grimy, or frayed and make the task of cleaning more difficult.
As for disposable cleaning cloths … including paper towels … did you get caught up in sales and coupons and now you realize you have a year’s worth of supplies tucked into various locations in your home?
Look through your cleaning cabinet and that shelf out in the garage or down the basement where you store paper towel and disposable dust cloths and disinfecting wipes. Gather it all together so you can inventory what you have.
Think about how often you use these items and do a bit of math to see how long it will be before you run out. You don’t have to get rid of anything, (unless you have a year supply and want to share it) but keep these supplies together and make a point of not buying any more until you’ve nearly run out. Tell anyone else in your house who shops that even if the items are on sale, it will still be a waste of money purchasing what you don’t need.
You might want to start this task with a quick walk around your home, glancing behind furniture for extension cords, power strips, and surge protectors. Do you still need the items you have in place?
Do you have electronics plugged into a power strip when you need a surge protector?
Is everything in good condition? Bring all the extension cords not in use to a single location. Pop them into a clear storage box and label either end of the box for good measure. Keep the box in a utility room or wherever you keep tools or lightbulbs.
If you feel that you have an excessive number of these items, remove some or all but one, or whatever you think will work for your household.
If you are an artist or crafter, check the condition of your paint brushes. If you have brushes for home painting, check that they are still in good condition. There is nothing worse than to find a hair from a paint brush dried in the paint.
Don’t worry about replacing these brushes right away. Wait until a project comes up and see if you notice the absence of a brush or if you use what you still have.
Yes, tools come in different sizes, but do you need to keep duplicates of the same size? Do you need multiples of tools that simply come from different manufacturers?
Post online to find out if any friends or relatives need what you have duplicates of.
If you have a lot of tools, work for 15-minutes and then step away. Make a note to return to your tools on a day the topic doesn’t apply to you.
If they don’t fit, why are you holding onto them? If you are actively losing weight, holding onto a size or two smaller is fine; however, if you are only thinking of losing weight, these are not helping to give you an incentive.
What if you are determined to fit back into these smaller sizes? Clear them out of your closet and put them in a box labeled with a date that’s six months from today. If in six months you haven’t gone looking for them, let them go.
Are you holding onto larger sizes just in case you gain weight? Don’t think this way.
If you have a pair of jeans that you hold onto for sentimental reasons, take them out of the closet and put them in a box of memorabilia.
Only if this item doesn’t apply to you … use your 15-minutes of decluttering to get rid of five horrible photographs (print or digital.)
At one point, I kept receiving umbrellas as my “free gift” from several charities. I also had umbrellas that I’d purchased and tucked in my tote bag and car. When I pulled them all together, I realized that I had eight(!) umbrellas.
Bring all your umbrellas together. Are there any in poor condition? Take them outside and open them if you aren’t certain. You don’t need to hold onto items that won’t do their job or “should be okay,” particularly if you have better options.
Keep the umbrellas together, preferably near the door people use to head out to school or work. Do you need to keep the umbrellas if you realize you never use them? How many umbrellas do you need? If you got rid of half the umbrellas you currently have, would this bother anyone?
Be the umbrella fairy who leaves umbrellas on the bus or by the door at work on a rainy day.
Susan Caplan McCarthy
I'm Susan, a writer and teacher developing a second career as a Decluttering Coach.