Here are 5 things to declutter in 5 minutes. Really!
Now, I bet some of you just said:
- I don’t have time.
- I don’t know where to begin.
- But I might need it…someday.
- I got it as a present, and even though I don’t use it, I can’t get rid of a GIFT!
Now, when I say 5 minutes, I mean I want you to get started and decide what goes. You can do that.
For some of these, it will take longer do the craft ideas or to box up donations and actually take them, but deciding which things to get rid of is actually very fast, and the most important part. Even if you tackle just one project every Saturday, it will only take you about a month to really make a dent in your clutter!
As a professional organizer, I know the importance of decluttering. It makes you feel better and makes your space more organized.
So, here are 5 quick and easy ways to declutter. And even better, these either get tossed in the trash, recycled into cool new things, or donated! A win – win in my book!
1. Throw out pens and markers that don’t write.
If you are like most people, you have pens, markers, and highlighters in cups, drawers, purses, in your car, and under the couch that have been used up or are dried up and refuse to write any more. Get a piece of paper and a garbage can and try them out. If, after a few tries, they still don’t write, toss them!
This is a quick and painless way to get rid of the clutter! The above picture is from all of the pencil cups I grabbed from throughout my house. The tall cup sits on my office desk, the dog and koala ones are in 2 of my children’s rooms, and the clear one is from my kitchen, near the phone and command center.
And yes, since everyone needs scissors for projects, we do keep them in various places, but we have also donated many as well, since they seem to be on school supply lists every year.
2. Gather up all your old books and magazines to donate or discard.
Okay, I’m going to put my librarian hat on for a moment (I have worked in libraries 32 years, so I do know a thing or two about books).
Donate the good stuff to your local library. (And, yes, I am biased.)
If you find your magazine basket(s) are overflowing with last year’s issues that you have already read, or your bookshelves with books that you no longer want to keep, PLEASE bag or box them up and take them to your local library. Most libraries have a Friends of the Library group that either has an ongoing book sale area or hold once-a-year book sales. Many also have a free magazine exchange area where you can drop off your magazines.
Just a side note: many libraries do not have a lot of storage room for these items, so PLEASE do not take Grandpa’s complete set of National Geographics from 1950 until today. PLEASE!!! I have first-hand experience in this.
Donating books and magazines not only help you declutter, but benefit your community and hardworking library folks, too.
What if your library doesn’t accept donations?
But, if your local library doesn’t accept donations, you can also try donating relatively current magazines to hospitals or doctor offices.
Contact local preschools and elementary schools, too. They might also like colorful magazines to use for cutting out pictures.
High schools that have ESL or adult education classes may also like donations to give to their students so they can have more practice reading material.
For both books and magazines (like all those National Geographics, maybe?), try local nursing homes. Residents love new (and old favorites) reading material!
Another caveat is that libraries seldom take REALLY outdated nonfiction books, so don’t try to give them the 25-volume set of Encyclopedia Britannica from 1970 or your college textbooks from 1980. TRUST ME ON THIS ONE.
So what do you do with those you ask?
They can be recycled or used in a great craft project like these gorgeous flowers. Click here for more ideas.
3. Vases and flower pots.
Do you have a stash of vases from bouquets long gone? How about those flimsy small pots plants come in that are gathering dust in your garage?
Gather up all those vases and donate them to places like Goodwill or Salvation Army. The picture above shows vases I have boxed up and ready to donate for our community garage sale.
You can also give them a new look by painting them if you want to keep a few. Click here to see how.
Or use them in other ways, like these bird feeders.
Plastic flower pots.
I usually recycle my plastic pots or use them for seedlings, but here is a nifty idea on how to make a cute plastic pot outdoor wreath from Better Homes and Gardens.
Isn’t it cute??? And since it is plastic, it should weather the elements year-round outside.
4. Toss old makeup and nail polish.
I know, it is tempting to keep those awesome 80’s neon eye shadow and nail polish colors for when they make a comeback, but, my friend, it is time. Just toss it. Here is a great guideline on how long they keep. Don’t worry, if (and when) the colors come back in style, the beauty field will make more. I promise!
5. All of those “reusable” plastic containers and utensils in your kitchen cabinets.
Take-out utensils and straws.
You know. Things like the 47 plastic spoons still in their plastic wrappers from various fast food trips, ditto with the straws still in their wrappers.
Those items can be donated to local homeless shelters or even recycled (but you could save just a few and keep them in the glove box of your car in case you don’t get them in your next fast food jaunt).
Butter tubs, etc.
Okay, as a professional organizer, I am going to get on my soapbox for just a minute. Do you really need to keep ALL of those plastic butter tubs for leftovers “just in case?”
No. No, you don’t.
Save a few CLEAR ones and recycle the rest, or else you might be disappointed, like my son was before I could transfer the leftovers from a Christmas party into my own storage container at home. 🙂
Here are some other ideas on how to put them to use if you don’t want to recycle them.
Take your Tupperware or other good quality plastic to Goodwill or Salvation Army.
See if a local animal rescue could use them for food and water bowls.
Check the local schools to see if they could use them for paint or glitter storage.
And, now that you have a manageable amount of plastic containers and lids, here is how to organize them.
So, take some time to do these 5 things and your cabinets will thank you, your house will be less cluttered and more organized, and you will have a great sense of accomplishment!
Leave me a comment and let me know how it goes!
Ready to get organized?
Get your FREE copy of professional organizer Pam Hoepner's Top 20 Organizing Tips, full of easy, inexpensive ways to organize your entire home!
Bonus: You'll also receive our weekly newsletter full of even more easy, frugal organizing, cooking & DIY ideas!