Instinctively with the advent of spring, people find themselves compelled to climb up ladders and get into the recesses of their closets, basements, or to mine their storage units, to identify that which is still in use or necessary from that which is not. It could be likened to a new rite of spring, but “spring cleaning” is a ritual both reverenced and dreaded the world over. The longer one lives in a place, the easier it is for unnecessary things to accumulate and for necessary things to get buried by them. So, to get a handle on your closets, garage, workshop, or storage unit, it can be extremely helpful to engage a junk hauler than can help keep the mass of stuff moving and free up valuable space to organize what you do decide to keep. Though the phrase spring cleaning suggests this is a once a year ceremony, there is no reason to restrict it to once a year; periodically purging one’s home can be done two – three times a year and makes it even easier to manage.
Step 1: Assess each area
Walk each room and in a notebook note where the “scary” areas are. The closet that you haven’t organized since you moved in, the one where you throw everything in a plastic tote (or several) to “file later”, or the closet where you have clothes that are 10 years+ old, or the attic where everything you have ever loved – or just liked – gets stashed, along with all your kids and grandkids mementos. Allocate at least a page for each room in your house and on that page leave half for the action steps you’ll take to address those scary spaces.
Medicine cabinets (old Rx’s, expired over-the-counter treatments, dead-in-the-water beauty aids, etc.)
Junk drawers (dried out tape, dead batteries, old receipts, out-of-date warranties, expired coupons etc.)
Work rooms or garages (old magazines and newspaper articles, rolls of film never developed, tools in disarray [making it difficult to find what you need when you need it], shoes you meant to clean the poop off of, broken umbrellas, DIY projects that have gone MIA, etc.)
Step 2: Analysis of paralysis
If you don’t find the pattern in your clutter, it will keep repeating itself. Rather than making the same mess again and again, look at why it happened in the first place. For example, do you have adequate storage containers and dividers within them for your essentials? You may find that it’s not strictly a problem of having too much or things you don’t need, but a combination of stuff you don’t need and stuff you can’t organize. Without the right receptacles for things, recurring clutter could become a way of life.
Step 3: Solutions and systems
For hodgepodge tool drawers, one solution to de-clutter this area is to invest in a hanging tool rack or organizer. The advantage of having one of these on the wall, as opposed to in a drawer, is that tools always come with a nifty hole or hook for this exact purpose and hanging them is much more space-efficient than having them jumbled in a drawer – and makes them easier to find and neatly replace. The same can be done with large cooking utensils.
In your drawers, are there adequate dividers? Drawers are almost always used as “catchalls” but they needn’t be chaotic. By purchasing an inexpensive drawer caddy, or recycling old jars, bottles, jewelry boxes, or making one with cardstock or particle board, you can make your drawer space go further and be a lot more manageable.
For things that come in bulk or that you store in bulk, like nails, stick pins, buttons, etc. Put labels on each container and segregate them by type, so that you don’t have to waste time fishing for a “needle in a haystack” each time you want the right size screw.
Tame junk mail, coupons, and recipes, by creating a folder or box that they reside in and by organizing that by tabs that indicate expiration date or type of recipe. You can enter all of your recipes into an XL spreadsheet, so that rather than looking through an unruly pile of recipes, you can just search, filter and sort by the type. Junk mail needs to be routinely sorted through and discarded, or it will pile up on you and become one of those scary spots. Instead of one person sorting through all the family’s junk mail, give everyone their own mail organizer, so they can be responsible for sorting it – or not!
Now that you’ve got some ideas for solutions and systems – you’ll want to get the stuff that doesn’t fit into your life, out of your life. Divide up your unwanted stuff into three groups:
Once you’ve assessed your areas, come up with your solutions, and sorted out the chafe, the easiest part will be getting the rest properly disposed of. A junk hauler can take each of these categories of stuff to the appropriate disposal site, charity, or recycler (especially important for e-waste, yard and hazardous waste, large appliances, or other materials your city’s waste management company will not accept – or that exceed your allotted pick up amount).