Donate items you no longer need/want.

It may not feel like it in your neck of the woods, but today is the first day of spring!  It’s time for spring cleaning.  But let’s start by getting some things out of our homes first!  Some people declutter but never actually get their items out the door.  We’re going to work on this very task this week.  Then next week, we’ll do a little spring cleaning!

Having donations boxes sitting in your garage for extended periods of time is a bad idea because you may ultimately decide you want to keep something you had already decided to donate.

So today, I urge you to donate those items that you decided to donate.  Get them out of the house.

We typically take the standard deductions on our taxes, but just in case we have a year in which itemizing is a good idea, I take pictures of everything donated, and I get receipts.  So the first thing I do when I finally donate items is to take pictures of everything I’m donating.  I don’t do anything fancy.  I just put the item on my dark walnut dining room table in natural light, and I take a picture with my iPhone or iPad.

Then I upload the pictures to my Dropbox account into a file named “Donations.”  I create a subfolder giving more details about the donation:  “Disabled American Veterans, donated 2017.02.21,” for example.  After I’ve uploaded the pictures to this subfolder, I delete them from my phone, and I delete the deleted pictures.  (I need all the space on my phone I can get!)  Why do I take pictures of the items?  First, I like to have a record just in case we ever get audited.  I really don’t know that the pictures help, but I feel better about having the pictures, especially if I’m donating a lot of stuff in a particular year (as I did the year we downsized from a three-bedroom house to a small two-bedroom apartment).  Second, I feel as though I am more easily able to part with items with sentimental value as long as I have a picture of the items.

If I donate something that could harm the person inventorying the donations, I make a note on the outside of the bag.  For example, I recently donated steak knives.  I placed them in Hefty freezer bags, then wrapped them in a reusable shopping bag, then put this note on the outside.

Finally, take your items to be donated, and get a donation receipt.  I scan the receipt when I return home, then put it with my current-year tax paperwork.

One more thing:  Talk to the person taking donations and ask about items that the thrift store doesn’t want.  For example, one of the thrift stores closest to my home does not accept more than five books at a time because they have so many.  (I broke up my John Grisham collection into several donations a couple of years ago for this reason.)  At least in my area, even ragged clothes can be used; Goodwill shreds them, and the Navy buys them for use as rags on the ships here.  So I donate items liberally.  But do keep in mind that items such as irreparably broken toys and puzzles with missing pieces are best sent to the trash.

Time required:  Less than an hour including driving time, but the time required depends on how many items you are taking to be donated and where the donation center is in relation to your home.

Sort through your jewelry.

By now, you should be finished or nearly finished sorting through your clothing.  The task for the next few days is to sort through your jewelry.

If you have sentimental jewelry that you have no intention of wearing, I would recommend putting it in a safe or safe deposit box along with a note of the jewelry’s significance.  Otherwise, if you have jewelry you haven’t worn in ages, consider donating it to the local thrift store.  If you have damaged jewelry (I have a pearl necklace with a broken clasp, for example), get it repaired.

One note:  I’ve simplified my worries in the last couple of years by focusing on wearing jewelry that doesn’t feel irreplaceable.  For example, the “diamond” earrings and pendant I wear on a daily basis don’t contain real diamonds.  I’m content now with lab-created sapphires and emeralds because I don’t worry about losing them in public.  I still wear my diamond engagement ring, but other than that, most of my “public” jewelry was $50 or less.

Time required:  An hour or so for me, mainly because I have a hard time parting with items with a sentimental attachment, such as the myriad pieces of jewelry I received over the years for participating in various weddings.

Changes!

I’m making some changes in my blogging efforts.  I’m still all about simplifying, decluttering, and organizing, but I’ve decided to focus primarily on those topics and to change up the name of the blog and to market and sell a few of my printables and my fillable, printable, savable PDF’s as well as some organizational labels and a few other products.  You’ll still be able to follow my daily tasks here, but ultimately I will be moving them to my new blog, which seems to be to be much easier to remember:

www.simplifydeclutterorganize.com

When I have fine-tuned the organization of the tasks (I work on doing so almost every day with a calendar of the revised order of tasks for next year, so please do leave feedback in the comments!), I will transfer them to Simplify. Declutter. Organize.  I will also be creating decluttering and organization plans there by rooms and categories rather than by daily tasks.  And I also intend to create a monthly task list there as well.

I love simplifying my life and helping other people simplify their lives, and I’m so thrilled with what my stats have been here despite that I spend no time advertising or marketing this blog.   Please continue to follow me here for my daily tasks (I won’t move them until next year), but also please join me at Simplify. Declutter. Organize.  I’d also love it if you’d join the new Facebook page, new Instagram account (where I post motivational quotations, organization products, and other tips), and new Pinterest account.  And let me know your thoughts in the comments below, too!

Check your smoke alarms and fire extinguisher.

Whether you love it or hate it, daylight saving time went into effect in much of the United States last night.  Today is a great day to check your smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, and fire extinguishers to ensure all are working.

Time required:  10 minutes here for four smoke alarms, one carbon monoxide alarm, and a one large fire extinguisher.

Sort through the clothing in your closet.

Yesterday, you prepared for organizing your closet.  Now it’s just time to do it.  Spend some time over the next two weeks trying on clothes, deciding what clothes fit, what clothes don’t, what clothes need maintenance, and what clothes just need to be donated because you don’t love them.

If you have clothing that needs to be mended, either start mending it on your own if you have sewing skills or find a tailor.  If you can’t afford to take all of your to-be-mended clothing at one time, take one article of clothing to the tailor a week or month.

If you have clothing that you’ve outgrown but hope to get back into, I would suggest putting it into a storage container such as a Sterlite container.  Give yourself 3 or 6 months.  If you’re no closer to getting back into the clothing, sell or donate it.

One final issue:  What do you do with old prom dresses and wedding dresses?  I still have three of my favorite special occasion (two are prom dresses; one was for a Halloween party) dresses, and I still have my wedding dress.  But I have donated all of my other special occasion dresses, several of them to charities that provide special occasion dresses for girls who might not be able to afford them otherwise.  Do what feels comfortable to you.

Once you get to the end of this task, take a look at your closet and decide what you need, if anything.  For example, I know I’m going to need to replace two of my turtleneck sweaters.  (I know people make fun of them, but I think they are classic in black and white!)  I need to find some dress flats, and my husband has encouraged me to replace my flip-flops and buy a pair of boots for winter.  My husband needs a host of new polo shirts because his are fading despite my consistent usage of Woolite.  (He also needs to discard a grey sweater that has a pull in it, but I think I am going to have to do that one day soon because he seems to be delaying that decision.)

Use this time over the next few weeks to purge your closet and freshen your wardrobe.

Time required:  Days and days.  But fortunately, less than 5 minutes a day.  🙂

Prepare to organize your closet.

Organizing a closet is one of the most frequently searched organization topics on Google search.  Unless you have very little clothing, this task will require some time–and some preparation.

You might begin by creating some closet dividers.  I cut some with my Silhouette Cameo and have used them to separate my clothing into the following groups:

  • Clothing I can wear and love!
  • Clothing I can wear but don’t love and should consider donating
  • Clothing I can no longer wear (and need to discard)
  • Clothing that needs maintenance (such as sweaters that need shaving or pants and shirts that need to be mended)

A simpler way to organize might be to try the Sex and the City method of closet organizing:

  • Keep
  • Toss
  • Store

I personally don’t want clothing in storage, but I have friends who store winter clothing in the summer and summer clothing in the winter.  As usual, I suggest you do what works for you.

My husband organized his closet with dividers much like mine, but his dividers are marked M, T, W, R, and F.  Each weekend, he ensures that he has enough cleaned, pressed clothing to last through the end of the week.

One more thing:  Consider using this time to replace hangers if you so choose.  I personally prefer the black non-slip hangers that are 2 for $1 at Dollar Tree.  If my budget were more hefty, I would consider wooden hangers.

Time required:  About an hour, but that time included making organizers using my Silhouette Cameo and replacing all of our plastic and wire hangers with consistent ones.

Sort through your shoes.

Now that you’ve sorted through your socks and undergarments, spend today sorting through all of your shoes.  If they are worn, either have them repaired or discard them.  Replace them if need be.  Also decide if you really need to keep all of your shoes.  I have friends whose pairs of shoes have reached the triple digits.  If you have as many (or just slightly less), determine if you really wear all of those.  If not, consider streamlining them.

If you’re a female, consider abandoning your high heels.  They have been bad for my ankles and my knees as well.  Talk to your doctor and weigh the benefits (if any) of wearing them.  But as I always say, “You do you.”  Just keep in mind that when you get older, you may have knee and ankle problems if you have worn high heels frequently in your younger days.  (Ask me how I know!)

Finally, if your shoe storage is less than satisfactory, figure out how you want to store your shoes.  You can store them underneath your bed or in your clothes closet.  You can use crates or Rubbermaid containers (although the latter takes up a lot of room!).  I personally store all of our family member’s shoes in a divided hanging closet organizer in our foyer closet.  This storage decision ensures that very little dirt comes in our front door.  Our outside shoes are by the back door in our garage, again so that we don’t bring dirt inside our house.  Eventually, I intend to build a bench in the garage, one that will hold our outdoor shoes, too.  I tried one of those boot trays, but it broke more quickly than I believed it should have, and I won’t replace it at this point.  (My husband and I have already built a similar storage bench for our dining room, and I’ll post pictures of it later.)

So spend some time today sorting through your shoes, and then store your shoes away tomorrow.  I’ve devoted two days to this task because you may need to go buy whatever storage method you decide on.

Time required:  About 45 minutes for me.  I tried on a pair of high-heeled shoes I thought I might want to keep and decided after wearing them for about 40 minutes that I should just sell or donate them because they were excruciatingly painful.  I’m not representative of other people, though, because I have fewer than five pairs of shoes.  Also, I established our shoe storage situation two years ago when we bought our house, so I spent no time on that task.