Do you save stuff – old clothing and dated accessories – because you think they would make great costuming? Did you (or your kids or grandkids) even look at this stuff for Halloween? No? Do you really have that many situations in your life where you need costume supplies?
If you do find that you (or your kids or grandkids) go looking for costuming during the year, keep all these types of supplies in one bin or drawer so the items’ purpose is clear. Don’t keep outdated clothing and accessories in with the clothing you wear.
If this task doesn’t apply to you: Eliminate an item of clothing or an accessory that you’ll never wear again, whatever the reason.
My mother saved every glass bottle and jar that she ever emptied. We had bins and bags of jars stored under the basement stairs. I was planning my wedding the year after she died, trying to figure out how to cut costs. I decided to use the collection of jars as part of my centerpiece.
I dragged the jars home and sorted them by size and style. I had enough jars that I could have put a collection of five on each of the ten tables (and still had leftovers), but I decided to use three on each table (each jar filled with a couple inches of Reese’s Pieces and a battery-operated votive candle).
I probably recycled more jars that I used. In an odd way, this included my mother as part of my wedding day.
If you keep glass bottles and jars because they seem useful, try to use them. If you never use them, recycle them.
If this task doesn’t apply to you: Look for an item that you keep because it seems useful and eliminate at least half of what you have stored.
If you have a cherished item that reminds you of a parent or grandparent every time you look at it, then continue to enjoy the item. However, do you have an item simply because your father or grandmother liked it … but you really don’t give it a second thought?
If you have an item that is meaningless to you, you don’t need to feel obligated to hold onto it just because of whom it belonged to at one time. Is there another relative who would find that the item evokes happy memories?
There were a lot of items stored at my parents’ home that probably belonged to a grandparent or great-grandparent, but because the items were stored in boxes in the attic, I had no clue if any of the items had a special significance. Neither my brother nor I felt any attachment to these things we’d never seen
Okay, today’s task isn’t about decluttering so much as it is about gathering important papers to a single place, such as a fire-resistant locked box.
I remember once sorting through a stack of papers, creating files for a client. I found birth certificates and other important papers in the pile that needed someplace more secure than a file cabinet. Even when sorting through my father’s files, it was a struggle to find the titles to his vehicles.
Gather birth certificates, marriage certificates, social security cards, titles to vehicles, passports, wills, deeds, and other important papers to one place. These aren’t papers that you can scan into your computer and shred the originals; talk to your lawyer or financial advisor before eliminating any papers that prove who you are and what has occurred in your life.
Just for the day, see if you can avoid any food (but whole, fresh fruit) that contains sugar. This will be a tough one for me; I love having something sweet every day – even if it’s dried fruit.
As you are closing in on the end of The Year of Decluttering, consider that physical objects aren’t the only thing that you can clear from your life.
Did you upgrade to a new hair dryer, curling iron, razor, hair trimmer, etc. but kept the old one? If the old item is in good condition, donate it; if not, toss it – it isn’t doing you any good.
If this item doesn’t apply to you: Eliminate one item with a plug that you never use.
As someone who crochets, I’ve made a lot of afghans. I even remember crocheting an afghan while my cat slept on the half that was completed. By the time I finished that afghan, I knew it belonged to my cat … so I made another afghan for myself.
Consider how many afghans and throws you use at any one time. If you are holding onto an afghan because someone made it for you, even though you don’t use it, consider if you want to hang it over the back of a chair to display it instead of hiding it in a trunk or storage bin so to show your appreciation.
You can always donate extra afghans and lap blankets to animal shelters as well as homeless shelters and nursing homes (check that they are looking for this type of donation).
If you were encouraged to sign up for a social media account that you find you just don’t use, look through the account settings and delete the account.
Just for today, try to avoid eating bread (you can skip the pasta, rice, and cereal, if you choose). If you rely on toast at breakfast or a sandwich for lunch, does this challenge you to consider different options at mealtimes.
Susan Caplan McCarthy
I'm Susan, a writer and teacher developing a second career as a Decluttering Coach.