Having pulled out an old roll of masking tape only to discover that it was impossible to pull off a piece that didn’t tear at an odd angle or that didn’t pull off several layers of tape with the strip, I learned that masking tape’s stickiness doesn’t last for long.
If you keep a roll or two of masking tape, give it a pull and a tear to check that it’s still in usable condition.
If this task doesn’t apply to you – Check through your office supplies to make certain they haven’t multiplied when you weren’t looking.
Unless you have empty lighters shoved into drawers (yeah, I know, it has the logo from your favorite football team on it), use today’s 15-minute task to gather lighters and matches into a single location. It’s okay if you keep a lighter beside the grill, but if you have a few locations in your home where you have lighters and matches, consider that bringing them to a central location will help you keep an inventory of what you have – so you don’t end up with either seven brand-new lighters, or none
Did you borrow a book or a tool or a baking pan from a friend, coworker, or family member? Return the item to them with thanks. If they don’t expect it back, ask them if they’d like you to place it in your “to be donated” box.
If this doesn’t apply to you: Think twice about making a purchase that would bring a potentially unnecessary item into your home.
I don’t know what your just-in-case item or items are. It could be clothing or a hobby item, or something connected to self-improvement. Maybe you’ve held onto the item for six months … or six years … or, ah hem, much, much longer.
I’ve seen the suggestion that if you can acquire a replacement for less than twenty dollars or within twenty minutes, then you don’t have to hold onto an item out of concern for not having it when you need it … if you ever do.
If you have assorted cans of interior and exterior paint, look at the labels to see if you still have those colors in your home. If you don’t, would you use that color again?
If the paint is in good condition, your local recycling center might have an area where people can leave cans of paint for others to take home. If there isn’t much paint in the can, you can leave the cover off latex paint, let it dry, and then toss the can. Hardware stores also carry chemicals that you can mix in with the paint to dry it more quickly, so you can throw it away.
If this task doesn’t apply to you: Delete three-to-five bookmarked pages on your smartphone or computer.
If the condition of a tool prevents you from using it, then it isn’t worth keeping. Do you have another that would do the job better? If an old tool is sentimental or you like its look, hang it on the wall as a decoration instead of keeping it with functional tools.
If this doesn’t apply to you: Pull a book off your shelf that you haven’t read and decide if you will start reading it today or if you will pass it along to a new owner.
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.
Maybe you bought something you had to build and there were a couple of leftover nails; or, you didn’t hang the spice rack on the wall, so you didn’t need some of the hardware. Where do these random items go?
If you said, ‘the junk drawer,’ you can toss them because if you go looking for the exact item, you won’t find it in the mixture. My father would save pill bottles and put the two nails or single screw leftover from an item in a bottle. (But, he didn’t always write on the label what these screws belonged to.)
I’m not suggesting that you don’t need nails and screws and washers and things but keep them together in a tool box or utility cabinet.
Susan Caplan McCarthy
I'm Susan, a writer and teacher developing a second career as a Decluttering Coach.