Knowing what to keep and what to get rid of, whether that be donating or tossing, is one of the hardest things to master when you’re getting organized. There are a few simple ways to distinguish what category your items should go in (listed in the table below), but there is a definite gray area for most things. So, lets break it down by room!
Keep one extra item of the essentials. For example, one extra tube of toothpaste, one extra bottle of shampoo/conditioner, etc. If you have multiples, don’t toss the rest, as that would be a total waste of money, but instead don’t purchase anything until you have that one in use & one in reserve. Towels – two sets! Pick your favorites & keep (how many people you have in your home x 2) per bathroom. This way even when it’s laundry day you have one to put out. If they are all clean when you have guests, this usually leaves enough to account for those extra people.
This is the hardest one in my opinion. By hardest, I mean the most emotional and time consuming. So let’s break it down and start with everyday blouses/shirts. The trick is to use the “eye doctor method”.
Hold two shirts up, which one would you choose to wear on any given day (One or two?)? Put the “no” aside. Pick another shirt and compare with the first one (One or three?). Take the “no” and compare it with the other (two or three?). Put the “yes” in a separate pile. I suggest only comparing three at a time (For every three shirts, one is “yes”, one is “no” and the last is maybe – the “yes” of the “no’s”). Keep doing this until all your shirts are divided into three piles.
Theoretically the shirt that was “no” to the other two should be ready to put in a bag and be on its way to Goodwill. The “maybe’s” take a little more consideration. If it beings you joy, keep. If it brings you guilt/frustration (someone gave it to you so you feel like you should keep it, or if you used to fit into it but don’t anymore) take those feelings, honor them: be appreciative to whoever gave it to you and release the guilt & honor your new wonderful body and get them out of your closet! Life it too short to be reminded of disheartening things every day when you walk into your closet. Repeat this process for the other categories of clothing.
Now I personally don’t have children, but I’ve helped moms who want to tackle their kid’s space and I’ve noticed a few trends.
The key to deciding which utensils you should keep/get rid of it to put them all in a box. As you use them, return them back to the designated drawer. After 2-4 months, anything left in the box, get rid of! As for pots/pans/mixing bowls/etc., only you know the answer for what to keep vs. get rid of. Be realistic, but I’d suggest keeping your favorites/go-to’s & the ones in the best shape and donate the rest. If you cook often and you use them all the time, keep them. If they’re taking up space in your kitchen and you are keeping them ‘just in case’, donate!
This is a tricky one and hard to generalize, so I will say this – it’s okay to keep things if you have room to keep it. That doesn’t mean fill up every inch of your basement just because you can, but if you’re on the fence about keeping something and there is a spot on the shelf for it, it’s okay to put it there for now and revisit it later.
Try to get everything up off the ground and in bins or on shelves in grouped like-items. If you have things that are sentimental or a great memory, try to make a shadow box or find a way to display it so you can enjoy it, instead of it being stored in a box where you can’t appreciate it.
Photos – keep one copy of a photo toss doubles. I suggest scanning them so you have digital copies and putting the originals in photo albums organized by event/year.
Some things you’ll find are great to go through it as you’re cleaning to appreciate it one last time before giving it away or throwing it away. If you have kids, designate a Rubbermaid or large bin for them where you can put your favorite artwork that they brought home, toys they’ve grown out of (see above), etc. and save it for them to go through when they’re older. My parents did this for my sisters and I and we went through our boxes as we moved out of the house. Some stuff we kept and other stuff we appreciated, then respectfully tossed/gave away. It was fun to see what our parents deemed important enough to keep so we could truly cherish it.
The big-ticket category of most basements/storage rooms are holiday decorations. Sort them by holiday and as you’re sorting if you know you haven’t put it out for decorations for the past few years – donate it. If you are unsure, that’s okay! Put it in a box. The next time that holiday rolls around, put out all the decorations you wish, then the things left in the box, donate or toss.
This is the one room of the house that I think it's better to go in spurts. It can get overwhelming fast and the moment it gets overwhelming you start making decisions you may regret later. It's okay to have a box that you just don't want to face right now. Set it aside and revisit it later, but the important thing is that you do in fact revisit it. As you’re going through your basement or storage room keep asking yourself this question: Can someone else or another family enjoy and be grateful for this more than I am right now?
These are basic tips to get you started, but as you’re starting if you have any questions please do not hesitate to reach out. This is what I’m here for! Just know that being able to make these decisions can be overwhelming!! We are human and have emotions (crazy, right?!). We are not robots to where we can be throwing things out the door with zero emotions. Take one room every few days to make this process less overwhelming. Things like kid’s items, basements/storage rooms or closets can be very sentimental and require more time, but stay strong!! You can do it!! By choosing to start, that is a huge win. Stay strong, take charge & #OptForOrganization
Emily has a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from Iowa State University. There she learned how valuable organization can be in being productive. She chose to use this knowledge and help others achieve this productivity and optimization in their homes and small businesses. Read & Enjoy and as always, let us know if you have any questions!