Cynthia's Blog

December 29, 2010

Home Organizing, Sorting and Packing Tips

Cynthia's Blog > Tips & Ideas

Trash or Treasure: What to keep? What to toss?

On New Year's Eve my husband and I have a tradition of walking around our neighborhood at midnight, sipping champagne, listening to firecrackers, and leaving things behind in the old year that we don't want to carry into the new year. We name disappointments, bad habits, unpleasant memories, the same 10 pounds (some items refuse to cooperate), forgive grievances, and announce that they cannot accompany us into the new year. Rather than add resolutions to our plates, we prefer to scrape off stubborn crumbs and start clean.

 

A clean slate energizes me. It makes me feel creative. When everything is in order I don't have to think about it, freeing up "head space" to be creative. To dream. To set goals.

 

One of my favorite mottos is, "Everything has a place, everything in its place." Sometimes there are too many "things" in one place, though, and the beginning of a new year is a perfect time to get organized: purge closets of old clothes, fill bags with unused toys, empty folders by shredding old documents while preparing taxes. It feels good!

 

Whether you're conducting your annual Winter organizing blitz, making space for a new family member, or packing to move into a new (sometimes smaller) home, consider whether an item is worth keeping. Ask yourself:

 

(1) Have I used it in the past two years?

(2) Do I have another item just like it…that I like better and use more often?

(3) Is it worth paying to store it or to have someone move it?

(4) Is it worth handling eight times?

 

That last one is interesting. Have you noticed that when we go to the grocery store we place an item in the cart, place it on the checkout counter, load it in the car, carry it into the house, unpack the bag onto the counter, then place the item in the cabinet or refrigerator? We handle that one item no less than six times!

 

Packing to move is the same. If an item is not worth handling eight times, trash it. Otherwise, you'll wrap it, box it, store it, move it to the truck, move it into the house, unpack it, unwrap it, and place it in its new storage space in the new home. If the item made a pit-stop at a storage facility, that's two more times it's handled, PLUS, you paid hard-earned cash to store it!

 

If something has been sitting in a musty, forgotten, unpacked box from the last move, just how precious can it be?

 

Finally, ask yourself, "Does this item bring me joy?" I believe we should have nothing in our home that doesn't bring us joy (this of course does not apply to teenagers). Hand-me-down furniture that wasn't good enough for the person who gave it to you should not be a part of your home if you don't like it.

 

Just keep repeating: Let it gooooo, let it gooooo, let it gooooo.

 

If you keep it, put it to work. Think of unique uses for fabulous things. Don't buy ugly plastic for bathroom toiletries, use that interesting box, basket or wooden utensils carrier. Store your toothbrushes and Q-tips in small vases and crystal jars. Store fresh eggs in a fabulous crock inside the refrigerator. Baskets can keep small items contained and out of sight in a drawer or on a closet shelf. It brings me joy to see my paperclips in a chipped Waterford champagne glass!

 

As they say, you can't take it with you. You can, however, take it to the next level. Let me know if I can help clear your slate…and Happy New Year!

 

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