By Leslie Jacobs Columnist Growing up in New Britain, I knew when Dairy Queen opened for the season, spring was upon us. This year, when Dairy Queen opened in early March it was my signal to call Vietnam veterans (800-775-8387) and schedule an appointment for their donations pick up. It’s one of my favorite charity organizations for donations because they pick up your clutter. With Goodwill and Savers you have to drop off—which is great if dropping off your husband’s clothes and you don’t want him to see what you’re donating. Everything I didn’t use or receive joy from looking at gets donated. Well, almost. Like everyone reading this—I have the benefit of knowing what I love and what I don’t and the best part is, so do you. It’s the basis for what you keep in your home and what you don’t. It’s why when a guy broke up with me I donated all the clothes I was wearing. I tossed the undergarments out. I didn’t want that memory—and neither should you! When you look at a table, or a chair, or your 150 dollar jeans: if you don’t love it then donate or sell it, but don’t keep them. The weight of everything you don’t love and see on a daily basis brings you down in spirit and mind. Become a happier version of yourself with these nine cleaning tips:
- Magazines and Books you will never read again. If you must read an article, tear the article out and put in a “reading folder”. Old Books and textbooks can be donated to libraries and schools. Seriously, everything is online now—so unless you are tethered to your books—donate what you haven’t used in the past two years.
- Photos that make you sad. Why would you keep photos that make you sad? Only keep what you love, brings you joy and puts a smile on your face.
- Old Clothes: Only keep two sizes up/down from your current size. If you are a size 16, you may not get back into size double zero, but don’t give up hope for a size 12 and 10.
- Winter Clothes (including all winter boots and outer clothes) and KEEP what you wore this year. Donate or Sell whatever you didn’t. BUT, wash and pack away for the fall and then bring to the consignment store.
- Shoes—What doesn’t fit right? Donate it. If it’s out of style, or you don’t like it or it’s too high- donate it. Shoes should complement your outfit not bring you pain. Actress Sarah Jessica Parker (Sex in the City) doesn’t wear high heels anymore. They hurt her feet. They hurt mine too. I’m short now, but comfortable.
- Mugs and Cups- You have them in a cabinet, maybe two or three. But how many mugs do you really use? How many live in the home? Five? Mom, dad, brother, sisters. Or maybe just mom, and sister. How many times do you use a mug or a cup? Daily? Weekly? These are just some of the questions to ask yourself, as you figure out how many to keep.
- Toss all the trash in your home including broken or old electronics, projects that you’ve lost passion for, and hobbies you don’t do anymore. This purge can happen every week and while you are emptying the waste baskets, check the food in the pantry and fridge. Toss out all the expired food and put the newspapers, cardboard, old catalogs and mail in the recycling bin.
- Paper is all encompassing and overwhelming for some. You need to have one bag, shelf or box dedicated to your bills, checkbook, tax info, stamps and envelopes (unless you do online banking.) Fill the bag with everything needed for taxes and then just bring the bag to the accountant.
- Stash a laundry basket in the bottom of your closet. Every day when you get home, make a decision where to put your clothes: Do you hang them up, or put them in the basket? When the basket is fill, or you run out of underwear, then you do laundry. It’s easiest to let the machines do the work for you, especially if you put in your clothes before you go to bed. When you wake, put clothes in the dryer. Before you leave for work or play that day, take them out. Fold what needs to be folded and leave the rest for putting away later. On days when you need help, use the night time hours to fill the dishwasher and run it. Then in the morning empty it. Never leave these appliances unattended.
If you are diligent in your cleaning, you can live clutter free. It’s like being on a diet, if you cheat and don’t put away what you used today it could lead to clutter—just like eating the wrong foods leads to weight gain. But you can keep the lid on your clutter by getting rid of what does not bring you happiness; you can keep the lid on your diet by not buying the overpriced and much smaller bag of potato chips.