Whether you are decluttering due to moving, a new stage of life, or because clutter is creating stress, here are some key tips to make you feel good managing the process:
Don't panic and do nothing: Although it can be a natural reaction to piles and heaps of stuff, if you don't take action, you risk the real likelihood that someone who cares less than you do will eventually dispose of those things..
Don't pay for storage: Nearly 1 in 10 US households pays for off-site storage at the average cost of over $1000/year or more*. Is there something more fun or rewarding that you could do with that cash? If you can live easily with what you have in your home, sell or donate what you don't have room for.
Don't save things for 'future generations'. So many attics are graveyards for would-be family heirlooms. By all means, if there is a special diamond ring or important photograph or painting, guard them somewhere safe. But don't your grandma's knick knacks, clothes, tableware, and memorabilia.
Don't assume nonprofits can't use what you have: There is a wonderful variety of work that nonprofits do in your community. Far beyond clothes and dishes, needs range from musical instruments, to scrap fleece, to creative art supplies, to historic memorabilia.
Don't give it to a nonprofit without checking: When bringing items to a nonprofit, give conscientiously. Don't bring stuff they don't specifically request without checking. People think they're being charitable, but they can put a terrible burden on a nonprofit especially with small staff and tight budgets. Bringing items they can't use or store costs them time and money. Think of it this way: You appreciate it when family members give you something you can use and cherish - You definitely wouldn't appreciate it if they dropped off a box or carful of stuff you don't need (even if it is well-intentioned)
Ask your family and friends if they want anything: If they say they don't, trust what they are telling you. And then don't hang on. Let things be enjoyed by someone else.
Find a good home for your treasures: There are so many nonprofits that serve people right in your community. Why not share what you have and know that it is going to be used? It can be so much more meaningful to make sure special things are going to a good home, and so much better than letting things deteriorate in storage.
Check first: Before donating, always check what nonprofits need (and don't bring what they don't need)
Look on HeroSearch.org: It is the one-stop resource when you have donation items. Find out what all the different nonprofits near you need and where your stuff can make a real impact. Plus, HeroSearch.org will tell you how far away each place is, what they do with your donations, and when you can drop things off (or if they pick up). It makes finding the best home for your donations easy and painless.
Take pictures: Having trouble parting with something you know you don't need? Take a photograph and perhaps even write a little story to go with it. It can be a lot of fun to later share the stories and memories with loved ones.
Tell your story: If an item has a great story, write it down and be sure the documentation conveys with the piece. That will add not only to its value, but also to the new owner's appreciation.
*Sources: SSA Self Storage Demand Study (2017), and SpareFoot data (2017)