The subscription could be for a magazine you never take the time to read. Or, it could be for a meals service. Or you could have items that regularly show up at your home through Amazon’s Subscribe & Save service. Are you still using the items that show up or do you no longer want them, but you haven’t gone online to cancel the services?
Use your 15-minutes to cancel your subscription to a magazine, merchandise, or service that you don’t use or use as often as the deliveries suggest.
If this task doesn’t apply to you: turn down the invitation to an activity you’d rather avoid.
Ice cube trays are inexpensive, and they come in some fun shapes, so you may have a stack of ice cube trays in your freezer. If you’ve noticed that the cubes in the trays shrink or disappear, then you just aren’t using that many ice cubes and could do with fewer trays.
(Science-y note: The ice cubes are going through sublimation – going straight from a solid to a gas. The ice is melting into a gas instead of a liquid. This is perfectly normal.)
If this task doesn’t apply to you: Check your freezer’s contents for food that should be used soon or that has gone bad.
Have the kids sort through their playthings for broken toys that can’t be fixed and that they no longer play with. These can be indoor or outdoor toys. Eliminating broken toys is not an excuse to go out and replace them. Chances are the kids or grandkids still have plenty of toys.
If this task doesn’t apply to you: Get rid of any broken item in your home.
Do you store boxes of facial tissues and rolls of toilet tissue in multiple locations in your home? Perhaps you have a spare roll or two in the bathroom, some items in your cleaning closet, and an overstock of items in the basement or garage.
Can you store your overstock on a single shelf or in a single cabinet? Although I’m not suggesting that you should have so few of these supplies that you risk running out, do you have months of stock? Do you really want to give that much space to these bulky supplies?
Maybe when the kids lived at home you maintained a certain level of stock, but you’ve never adjusted your shopping habits as the kids moved away. Consider how often you shop and what you really need to keep for back-up supplies.
Lunchboxes and backpacks aren’t just for kids. Check the condition of the lunchboxes and backpacks (and tote bags, if that’s what you use) and make certain that zippers zip and other features are in working condition. If the item(s) needs to be aired out, hang it up. If the item doesn’t get used or it has been replaced, clear out the items you don’t need.
If this task doesn’t apply to you: Eliminate a snack that you are eating only because you are bored, or you need a break.
For your 15-minute task, sit and do nothing. Don’t read, don’t write notes to yourself, don’t scroll social media or look at email. Look out the window. Hold a mug of hot tea or a glass of water if you need something to anchor you.
If you want to meditate; focus on your breath. If you want, keep your eyes open and notice what thoughts run through your mind.
Remember, clutter isn’t just stuff but also actions and thoughts – create some time for yourself.
If you have a pool or go to a pool and have toys to take along, check out the condition of the items. Is anything worn or damaged? Is there mold? Clear out the items that you, your kids, or your guests won’t or can’t use.
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.
If you’ve made it through most of the season without wearing certain items, pull them out and consider why you didn’t wear them. Do they not fit? Is an item stained? Do you just not like an item? If you didn’t wear that dressier item because there was no event to wear it to, then hold onto that item (providing that it fits and that you’d wear it to an event).
If you didn’t wear clothing items (and accessories) this year and you know you won’t wear them next year, then pop them into your donation box or bag.
Do you have notes stuck here and there to act as reminders? Do the reminders still work or have you looked at the notes for so long that you don’t really see them any longer? Would rewriting the note on a different color Post-it® help you “see” it again?
If you have pads of Post-it® notes here and there through your house, do you really use them where you have them or did the pads just get dropped into a catch-all container when you were clearing a surface? Keep the notepads in locations where you’ll use them. This will also help you notice how many you own so you don’t pop another pack into your shopping basket the next time you’re at the store.
Susan Caplan McCarthy
I'm Susan, a writer and teacher developing a second career as a Decluttering Coach.