100 Days of Useful Homesteading Skills: Day 11 – Know What You Can Throw or Give Away

grass-fence-street-lawn-old-wall-689469-pxhere.comWhen you have obligations on an active and time-consuming new homestead, the last thing you want to do is come indoors after a long day outside and deal with clutter. The best way to deal with this is to edit your belongings now, before you make the move.

It is hard, we know. There are many things we don’t wish to part with because we have sentimental attachments, or because it cost a lot of money, or because we might need it later… There are always reasons to keep it, you must find reasons for letting it go.

Sometimes this involves some subconscious trickery on your part. We do various things to prove to ourselves that we don’t need certain things anymore.

  1. Turn the hangers around in your closet – As you wear an item hang it back up the correct direction. This tells you whether you wear that item often enough to keep it. We do this seasonally because our clothes are boxed up by seasons.
  2. Torn or damaged clothing goes in the rag bag – We make rags, quilts, rugs, and other items out of our used clothing. Some of it is repurposed into things we can continue to enjoy. Some of it serves another purpose.

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    Neatfreak ClosetMAX organizer system.

  3. If it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t sit – Clothes that don’t fit, don’t look good on us, or do not fit our style, just don’t belong here. They can be repurposed, sold, donated, or gifted to someone else.
  4. We go through every room seasonally – On or around the weekend following each solstice and equinox, we go through every room with a bag and a box. The bag is donate/throw away/gift and the box is sell/barter. Maybes end up on the dining room table for discussion.
  5. Junk mail gets shredded at the door – We have a shredder and a bin at the entry for shredding junk mail. Magazines go right into the bin. We use these for making paper, cat litter, bedding, compost, and starting fires in the winter. Remember OHIO (Only Handle It Once). This prevents paperwork clutter from building up.
  6. If we aren’t sure, stash it – If we aren’t sure about getting rid of something, we put it in a closet for a month. If it’s still there after a month, we probably don’t need it.

For more serious cases or for those of you who are “box and banishers” (people who stuff miscellaneous things in boxes and hide it in closets to get it out of sight before guests arrive), you will probably need to employ a more heavy-handed approach.

Pulling out a tarp into your backyard and taping off sections with duct tape can work. Mark one section “keep”, one section “sell”, one “give”, and one “donate”. Add a heavy garbage can or two next to it for trash and maybe a bin for recycling and start hauling boxes out one room at a time.

After that, bring out laundry baskets and label one for each room of the house, your outbuildings, and your vehicles. Sort the “keep” items into these. Once you have gone through every room in your house, resort the baskets again on the tarp and make sure you want to keep these items. Return the keep items to their rooms and put them in their proper place.

Jessie’s ex-husband was a “box and banisher” and she was left with a lot of the boxes when they divorced. She was very overwhelmed and didn’t have the energy to go through those boxes for years but the above method worked for her.

What methods have you employed to keep clutter at bay?


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