Maybe you bought a new light socket to fix a lamp that instead got moved (damaged) into the garage. You saved old light bulbs to turn into cute hanging vases. Are you really going to turn those pallets into patio seating? And, when are you going to transform those PVC pipes into an outdoor sprinkler for your kids?
DIY supplies are different from hobby supplies in that you purchase these supplies for a certain project or hack that you have never managed to carry out.
Do the project, schedule the time for the project, or get rid of these supplies.
Unless you have multiple office spaces within your home, chances are a single stapler will serve your home. If you have a few staplers because you can never find one when you need it, decide where your stapler will live.
Then, when you need to staple something, go to the stapler and use it where you store it (although, if you are doing paperwork in your home office, your stapler will be handy – and, by home office, I also mean the desk in the corner of a room or the bin that serves as your mobile office).
If other members of the family are always taking your stapler (and not returning it), perhaps they need their own stapler. Or, the house stapler needs to be labeled with a friendly reminder to ‘return to the desk.’
As for boxes of staples, one box can last a long, long time. Unless you use a lot of staples, you don’t need back stock of staples in your home.
If this task doesn’t apply to you: Delete five bookmarked pages on your smartphone or computer.
Life changes. You lose touch with people, change doctors, order from a different pizza place. Scroll through your phone contacts and delete the people and businesses whom you no longer call or text.
Do you have two sets of five-pound hand weights? Similar resistance bands and exercise tubes? Two stability balls? Yoga mats in different colors?
Question if the duplicates serve a purpose. Save the best and pass along the duplicates.
If this doesn’t apply to you: Think twice about making a purchase that would bring a potentially unnecessary item into your home.
Bowls and baskets are wonderful for bringing together and creating a cohesive look for items that could otherwise seem randomly strewn across a surface.
However, when a bowl or basket becomes a catch-all for all those little things you don’t know what to do with or where to put, it stops being a decorative touch or finishing element to your room and décor.
Do you have bowls or baskets that collect paper clips, coins, pens, stamps, coupons, receipts, business cards, etc.? If it’s a temporary situation (you dump the contents of your pockets when you get home, but you sort through the stuff after dinner or during the weekend), then it’s probably not a problem for you.
If, on the other hand, stuff never leaves these catch-alls; or, you have multiple bowls and baskets around your home, this may be a habit to break.
Sort through your catch-all bowl and put stuff where it belongs … or, toss it all.
Did you get a new vacuum but held onto the old one ‘just in case?’ Do you make use of that old vacuum? If not, let it go. Remember, you replaced it for a reason.
“Vacuum” included your home vacuum, the shop vac, a handheld vacuum, or the vac for your car. If you’ve replaced an item or you just don’t use it, trash it or donate it.
For good measure, do you have a rug cleaner because you thought you should own one, but you never use it? Is it worth the space it takes up?
If this task doesn’t apply to you … use your 15-minutes of decluttering to get rid of three-to-five horrible photographs (print or digital).
Yesterday, you considered all the collections, hobbies, and interests for which you’ve accumulated stuff. Today, box up the stuff for one of these interests or hobbies that you no longer participate in.
If you are uncomfortable getting rid of this box of stuff right away, you can hold onto it for three more months. See if you can rally your time, energy, and attention to pursue an active engagement with this stuff.
If you thought you were going to quilt but you never got further than cutting a few squares of fabric; if you thought you would join a remote control club for racing cars, but you only directed your car around your yard for 10-minutes; if you thought you’d convert a corner of your basement into a pottery studio because you loved the pottery class you took through community education – be easy on yourself and release your expectations.
Today, focus on boxing up the materials from a single interest unless you have time to work on two interests. However, you may find this stuff difficult to go through because you, at one time, connected this stuff with how you perceived yourself.
This is the task for today and tomorrow. This category of stuff includes all the things that we wanted to do, or, the people we wanted to become.
Maybe, you wanted to be the person who brought beautifully decorated, homemade cupcakes to parties and get-togethers. Maybe, you wanted to learn more about antiques because you have a friend who goes antique hunting every weekend and you thought this sounded like a great way to spend weekends. Maybe you wanted to learn woodworking, so you could make wonderful rocking chairs for the special people in your life.
These interests could involve books, items in your kitchen, special clothing and footwear, tools, craft supplies, digital information … really, any type of item (tangible or not).
Sometimes, we enjoyed participating in this interest or hobby for years. Other times, we thought we would enjoy an interest or hobby and so we bought everything we thought we’d need to show our dedication to learning about this interest. Only, we never made the time or found the motivation.
Grab a piece of paper and writing utensil (or open a digital notepad app) and walk from room-to-room looking for things that were gathered for a hobby or interest (this could also involve collections that no longer interest you). If you can sit in one spot and think of these things, that’s fine too.
So, today’s 15-minute task is to list interests and hobbies that you are not actively pursuing.
If you have bags of potting soil that are more than a year old, are you certain that the soil is in good condition? Has the soil dried out, or become saturated and moldy, or have some small critter move it? Whatever the project was that you bought the soil for, chances are that you aren’t still planning on doing that it.
Depending on the condition of the soil, spread it in your garden, cover your composting vegetable matter with it, or dump it along the edge of your yard.
If this task doesn’t apply to you: Look for materials that you purchased for some project you never got around to. Decide to schedule the project or release the items.
Susan Caplan McCarthy
I'm Susan, a writer and teacher developing a second career as a Decluttering Coach.