If your belongings are taking up precious square footage in your home, it may be time to re-evaluate whether you really need everything you own before your next move. (More than one black sweater? Possibly. Biology notes from freshman year? Probably not.)
“If you’re vague about when you might use something, you probably won’t,” says Lisa Zaslow, founder and CEO of Gotham Organizers in New York. “By definition, ‘someday’ never actually arrives.” Instead of stockpiling remnants of your life in the basement (or living room … or bedroom …), follow these decluttering tips to organize your space once and for all.
When you’re looking to get rid of stuff, start with the big, bulky items first, says Zaslow. Doing so will free up space quickly, and once you see how good getting organized feels, it may motivate you to keep going.
Give it a gut check
“If you can’t decide whether to keep or toss an item, ask yourself, ‘If I saw this in a store today, would I buy it?’ or ‘If I were moving across the country, would I pay to take this with me?’” says Stacey Platt, author of What’s a Disorganized Person to Do? If the answer is no, toss it.
Nowadays, you can find most things online — including another copy of a book, DVD, or CD that you regret parting with. “You can get [lots of] books online for under $5,” says Zaslow, who also recommends selling your books on Bookscouter.com. “And aren’t you streaming all of your media these days anyway?”
Say so long to swag
That beer koozy with the logo of a software company you interned with 10 years ago? T-shirts with now-defunct corporations on them? Or the countless cheap nylon bags these freebies often come in? Into the garbage bin they go.
“Most of this stuff isn’t worth donating and no one will buy them in a thrift shop,” says Zaslow.
Consider an item’s afterlife
Your old living room couch isn’t doing anyone any good collecting dust in your basement, but it could be just what a college grad furnishing their first apartment is looking for. “Furniture doesn’t age like fine wine,” says Zaslow. “Give it away now, while it’s still usable, to someone who needs it. Ditto old electronics or appliances.”
But let yourself be somewhat sentimental
Photos and memorabilia can be the hardest stuff to let go of, so start the process by corralling all of them in a box. Then go through them 30–60 minutes at a time, says Zaslow. If you’re unsure whether to part with an item, give yourself a decide-by date and revisit it then. Your decision may be clearer. And your house will inevitably be cleaner!