Wow, I own so much stuff! And what am I going to do with it?

Wow, I own so much stuff! And what am I going to do with it?

Lessons learned from packing up my house, Part 1

I’ve helped so many people and businesses rid their spaces of clutter. I find a thrill in clearing out and creating space, space that allows for more fun, more growth in a business and more mental space for dreaming. And because this is my profession, people make assumptions about how I live and what my home must be like. I’ve even made some of these assumptions too.

People who haven’t been in my space think my house must be in perfect order and that I live a minimalistic life. (This is the romanticized view of an organizers life.) The truth is, I’ve never been a minimalist or had a perfect looking home. I’m a creature of comfort, ease and creativity. That means I don’t like to go to the grocery store too often- so Costco bulk buying is a thing for me. I also love being visually stimulated, so I’ve got lots of art on my walls and beautiful things on shelves.

Even though I’m not a minimalist, I’m pretty organized. Most of the time we can find our keys and school bags, we’ve got places to put things away and systems to get us in and out of the house easily each day. I’ve also always done regular clean out days with my kids- their toys, clothes and everything else we own. I still have trouble keeping up with the laundry and keeping my head above water just like every other woman with a family that I know (whether she works outside the home or not). Yet, I assumed that since I cleaned out regularly that I didn’t own too many things.

And…… the reality was that I owned way more than I needed or could use.

When I went to pack up my home for the remodel that’s starting this month, I was shocked by all that had accumulated in our home. When we moved in, we were coming from a 800 sq. ft. place and all of a sudden we had plenty of empty closet space, but by the time I cleaned it out last month, there were things occupying every shelf. Yes, I could find everything, we knew what was there, but I was surprised by how many things we had acquired, how I had just held onto things.

My collection of hotel size soaps and lotions was out of control, the amount of scarves I had was beyond reason and our towel collection was unnecissary. I hadn’t realized how many of these things I owned, mainly because my house held all this and we weren’t bursting at the seams. Yet, now that I’m taking apart the seams of the house, I got to see what was inside all the dark corners of the closets. And it felt ridiculous.

It was easy to sort and store everything we owned but now that it’s all cleaned out I’ve got a new perspective on what I will let accumulate again.

Yet, I still had the problem of what to do with all I had decided to get rid of. The main reason I’d held onto things was having guilt over throwing things away, whether that was because I didn’t want to create garbage, or give away gifts I’d received. I know this can be a huge issue for my clients when we clean out a closet or a room, so much waste! I didn’t want those hotel shampoos and lotions to go to waste (my kids love taking them) and so I had held onto them, and used them when traveling, but not as as fast as they would appear in the closet. I didn’t want to throw out towels and buy new ones even though they looked ragged because they still did the job of drying us off.

So just like I do with my clients, I tried my best to find ways to avoid filling the landfill.

Below you’ll find some ideas/ resources for new homes for all that extra stuff that I acquired.

  • Art / office supplies- call your local elementary school, boys and girls clubs, co-op preschools, or friends that are artists, or there is always the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse.
  • Facebook marketplace and Facebook garage sale groups were the best for giving away all the oddball items from my home. I was able to re-home everything from our stove to hangers to garden supplies.
  • Furniture- I know people want to get a little cash for all these items, but they go so much quicker when offered for free. The only item I can’t seem to give away is a file cabinet- and that makes sense because we’re all going paperless more and more.
  • Clothing and stuff swaps with friends- I attended a couple of these over the spring. It made me feel so good to see someone else treasure my possessions that I didn’t need anymore.
  • Charity Garage sales- I find garage sales to be a lot of work for very little return, but there’s usually a local organization hosting a sale to raise money for a good cause- schools, kids sports organizations, boy/ girl scout troupes or other non-profits that host annual garage sales.
  • Old towels and sheets- animal shelters are often in need of soft washable bedding for animals in their care.

I’m sure if I found way more things in my home than I need, then you’re probably in the same boat. If you wanted to clean and clear out clutter- whether that’s physical, digital or useless things that eat up your days, I’d love to help you steer through that process. My client availability is limited this fall and winter because I’m managing my home construction project. I have 2 spots for 1:1 clients for the Fall. Reach out now to explore whether working together will clear the clutter that’s getting in your way. In addition I’m also starting to schedule clients who want on-site organizing support for the winter. If you’ve got a project you’ve wanted to tackle in your home or office for awhile, lets talk and get you on my schedule for the winter NOW.