At some point while writing up daily updates on my progress it dawned on me: you all don’t know how exactly I’m doing it. Sure, you see all the great before-and-after pictures and hear about the process in little bits and pieces, but you don’t know the methods I’ve been using in case you want to work on your own ‘Stuff Project.’
And so I’d like to dedicate Thursdays to such tips and methods. Again I’d like to reiterate that I am NOT professional organizer; I am just someone working through trial and error on a personal project.
When I go through stuff, I separate them into three main categories:
- Stuff to keep
- Stuff to giveaway, sell, or donate
Trash is the most obvious of the bunch. This is where all the old papers and broken items never to be fixed again go. If we don’t want it and if it’s not in good enough condition for someone else to use, it goes in the garbage.
I find that 13-gallon kitchen bags are the best. The common 33-gallon trash bags are too big that once they’re filled they can be extremely heavy and troublesome to carry from a room to the garbage bin. On the opposite end of the spectrum, grocery bags are too small to hold enough trash. Kitchen bags are just right to dispose of a lot of stuff without being too heavy for one person to carry.
And of course whenever possible, I try to recycle aluminum cans, plastic and glass bottles.
Stuff to giveaway includes items that we don’t want or use anymore, but can still be used my someone else. The items could be sold, given away, or donated.
Ideally, you could organize giveaway items by putting similar items in the same box (e.g., a clothes box, books box, toys box, etc). This would cut down some sorting time if you were planning to sell some of these items or having a yard sale. But for the sake of time and energy, I’ve been more or less putting all giveaway items in one giveaway box.
The only exception in my case is when I come across something like a crate filled with books that I’d like to giveaway. Usually I would then be able to designate a giveaway book box and fill it immediately.
In the past I’ve worked with large trash bags for storing clothes for donation. They work okay, but when the bag gets punctured there’s a big chance that your clothes will get damaged and you won’t be able to give them away. 33-gallon trash bags work well for storing clothes if you’re doing a quick closet purging and are planning to donate the same-day. The same goes for plush toys. But for a longer-term project like this one, boxes are better to store clothes and toys. As for books, CDs and videos? Always use a box.
Stuff to keep is the category that needs the most discipline upon deciding. When I think about an item that should be kept, I must also think of the value this item will serve (i.e., how often will I use it, does it improve my life in some way) and where it will be stored or kept. Ideally, stuff to keep shouldn’t need boxes or bags; they should just be in the spot they belong. Unfortunately this isn’t the case for my situation.
This particular category has been tricky for me lately because I’ve split it into subcategories based on who or where the items belong. I’ve found lots of important items in rooms or areas they’re not supposed to be in. For example, while cleaning my sister’s room I had a box for items we found that belonged to my dad, a box for my mom’s stuff, a box for liquids, a box for VHS tapes and DVDs, and a general keep box.
Once I clean out an area, I try not to put anything in that area that wouldn’t belong there regularly. This is how I organize spaces as I clean them. Ah yes, I can hear David Allen throwing a fit in the distance…
Then at the end of the day make sure that the trash is out the door and in the garbage bin, the giveaway stuff is out the door and in your car ready to be dropped off at a donation center, and the stuff you keep is organized and put away as best as possible.