“Out with the old, in with the new,” an old proverbial phrase few of us follow. We accumulate but never dispose of old or unused items to free up space. Every closet, corner, and drawer, is filled with things that sit unused for days, months, even years. Bookcases overrun with novels you’ll never read again. Kitchen cabinets stacked with seldom utilized cups, plates, and utensils. Shelves stuffed with outgrown clothing, shoes, purses, and accessories. Linen closets overflow with rarely touched towels, sheets, shams, and blankets. Desks drawers piled with electronic gadgets building dust. Workout equipment used only once or twice then stored in the corner. What a mess! Consequently, our living and working spaces are swamped with clutter that literally sucks energy from our psyche and serenity. Besides being unappealing, clutter increases anxiety and stress.
Nonetheless, the perception of clutter differs from person to person. Some people need a little mess to feel inspired and productive. If you’ve worked in an office setting, preferences are visible desk to desk. Some individuals can’t think or function unless their desks are immaculate, while others are productive with papers, books, files and folders scattered everywhere (Albert Einstein, Mark Twain, Steve Jobs). However, there are adverse mental effects associated with clutter.
- Clutter increases stress hormones (cortisol) by overloading visual, olfactory, tactile stimuli which distract attention and focus.
- Hinders one’s ability to relax physically and mentally.
- Overstimulates the brain with constant reminders of decluttering your space.
- Causes guilt and embarrassment.
- Impacts creativity by using free space to think, brainstorm, and problem-solving.
- Increases frustration when one’s unable to locate an item quickly. Psychology Today.com.
Decluttering isn’t easy, especially getting rid of expensive objects or items with sentimental value. But don’t stress! It took months and years to amass clutter so decluttering won’t be accomplished in a day unless you decide to chuck it blindly into the garbage. Start small, one item at a time until you’ve eliminated useless stuff to manageable essentials. But wait! Don’t throw away things the less fortunate might need. Donating is the perfect way to declutter and give back to the community. Many charitable organizations such as Goodwill, Salvation Army, and others accept almost every household item. Specialty charities receive specific items such as clothing, books, DVDs, electronics, etc. Below is a small list but more organizations are searchable on the Internet.
Goodwill: Accepts appliances, antiques and collectibles, clothing, electronics, furniture, vehicles, and much more.
Salvation Army: Accepts appliances, books, clothing, furniture, vehicles and countless other household items.
Vietnam Veterans of America: Accepts books, clothing, electronics, household goods and appliances, furniture, toys, and more.
Clothing, Shoes, and Accessories
Dress for Success: Accepts women’s business suits and other professional apparel, footwear, and accessories.
Career Gear: Accepts men’s suits, dress shirts, shoes, overcoats, ties, clips and cufflinks, watches, briefcases, and other business-appropriate attire for interviews.
Clothes4Souls: Accepts new and used clothing, and shoes.
Soles4Souls: Accepts all types of shoes: athletic, running, dress, sandals, pumps, heels, work boots, cleats, dance, and flip-flops, just as long as they are new or gently worn.
Electronics, Digital Devices
World Computer Exchange: Accepts used computers, laptops, keyboards, printers, hard drives, and more.
Computer Recycling Center: Accepts laptops, computers, flat panels, servers, network equipment, cell phones, and the parts that go inside (cables, motherboards and cards, AC adapter/chargers for laptops, loose hard drives).
Cell Phones for Soldiers: Accepts all makes, models, and conditions of cell phones.
Exercise Equipment and Gear
Sports Gift: Accepts many types of sports equipment.
One World Running: Accepts new and “near-new” athletic shoes, T-shirts, and shorts, along with medicine and school and art supplies.
Don’t forget other organizations that might be in your neighborhood such as:
Thrift Shops: Accept clothing, shoes, books, furniture, jewelry, and household appliances.
Homeless Shelters: Accept clothing, toiletries, cold weather gear (gloves, scarfs, hats, sweaters, and jackets).
Last but not least, if you have a large lawn and want to make a little cash, consider throwing a garage sale. Though you won’t receive the item’s true monetary value, you’ll pocket some spending cash. Invite neighbors and friends and make it a fun event. Happy decluttering!