Lightening Your Load: Tips for Cleaning Out the Clutter this Fall

Today we have a guest post from Jessica Johnson at Extra Space Storage. Jessica works for and contributes to the Extra Space Storage blog, exploring various aspects of organizing and storing possessions.


There’s no need to wait for the flowers to bloom in order to start your spring-cleaning; having too many possessions can weigh you down both physically and mentally. Begin your autumn by simplifying.

When we let go of things that we no longer use, not only do we lighten our load, but we can offer it to a charity or a friend that may really value the item and put it to use. Having fewer possessions may not seem like a glamorous life, but is one that is filled with simplicity, peace, and contentment. Let’s have a look at where all those un-needed things are hiding.

Clean Out Your Closet
Have you heard of the 80/20 theory? It suggests that the average person wears 20% of his/her clothes 80% of the time. That means there are a lot of clothes you don’t need. I find these three questions helpful when cleaning out my closet:

  1. Have I worn it in a year?
  2. Does it feel good when I wear it?
  3. Am I waiting for it to come back in style?

If you have not worn it in a year, you are unlikely to wear it again. If it is not comfortable when you wear it, you are likely to avoid it and should give it to someone who may feel comfortable in it. A decade may pass before your bell-bottoms come back in style. Set these items free so someone else has a chance to enjoy them.

Clean Out Your Book Shelf
Used books can take up a lot of space in your home, causing it to look cluttered. If you reference a book often, save it. However, there are plenty of books that are ready to find another home. Donate them to the local library and give someone else the gift of reading. Another fun thing you can do with used books is to leave it at a coffee shop or a public place where reading material is available. Leave a little sticky note on the front cover saying, “I am gifting this book to whomever finds it. Pass it on when you are finished and gift it to someone else.”

Clean Out Your Garage
Often times, the garage is a graveyard for things you no longer use. When it is out of your sight, you forget it is even there — making the garage an easy place to clean out. Do you have any old paint cans that need to be disposed of? How about sport equipment, bikes, or toys you no longer use? Most churches have foreign ministries where they send clothes, toys, books, and food to those who are living in poverty.

Clean Out Your Kitchen
Are your cupboards stuffed with old coffee mugs, pots, pans, kitchen utensils, and dishes you no longer need? By getting rid of the items you no longer need, you de-clutter your kitchen. It will look cleaner and more organized. Also, consider donating your tattered rugs and old kitchen towels to animal shelters.

Clean Out Your Media Library
Thanks to cable, iPods, and Netflix, having a stockpile of CDs and DVDs is a thing of the past. If you are up-to-date on current methods of streaming music and movies, then it is high time you clear out your media library. They create clutter, and if you are not watching or listening to them you do not need them hogging up space. Consider giving them to a friend who will be traveling to a developing country where the people will appreciate the gifts (and physical discs are still commonly bought and sold).

Cleaning out your world can be very rewarding but also a bit sad. It is important that you make this a positive experience so you can get the most out of it. Before you even start, determine whom you will be giving these items to; it’s easier to let go of things when you know they are going to a good place.

Make sure you set aside an adequate amount of time; this process should not be rushed and you want the opportunity to really think about what you are cleaning out. It might be beneficial to have a friend help you. Someone who is not attached to your possessions may be able to help you make a good decision when deciding to let them go.

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