Decluttering Your Garage

Article written by Martha Tobin and featured in April edition of OSCAR newspaper

A gust of hope usually blows through as the longer daylight hours begin. It’s at this same time that many people have visions of their garages being well-organized, easily maintainable hubs for storing winter items away and resurrecting summer items. 

A few things to keep in mind as you declutter and organize your garage:

  • Frequency of use determines degree of accessibility – move summer items to the forefront of shelving (i.e sports items, gardening tools etc) and winter items to the back areas.
  • For often-used items that you reach for from the home garage entrance, keep those close to that door for easy access.
  • Store ‘like with like’ – as you gather your winter items put them all in the same area of your garage.  Go a step further and sort into sub categories corralling similar items into clear bins (i.e. winter car accessories, winter washer fluid, road salt, etc).
  • Declutter winter items – review these items as you gather them together and determine how often you’ve used them.  Let go of those you no longer need and reclaim that garage space.
  • Exchange winter decor/decorations for summer ones.  For anything electrical, test the items to make sure they are in working order. 
  • Review hazardous waste and electrical items and declutter items that are no longer needed.  City of Ottawa waste drop offs will start up again in April so have these items gathered together for easy transport.
  • Declutter any construction/renovation materials that you no longer need.  Check ReStore Ottawa to see their list of donatable items. 
  • As you organize your tools, consider donating any that you no longer need to the Ottawa Tool Library.

Your show-worthy garage will be even closer to realization by adding shelving.  Many retailers sell easy-to-assemble, stand-alone shelving that can maximize your vertical space.  Shelving will allow you to clear floor space so that you can not only park your car in the garage but also maintain this area more effectively and easily.  

Spring is a great time of year to organize and declutter your garage, dust the cobwebs off your summer items and truly feel the warm air blow through. 

Share this page:

5 Organizing & Decluttering Tasks You Can Do Quickly (as featured in OSCAR newspaper-Feb 2024 edition

Holding on to items “is like taking a deep breath, then holding it and holding it,
refusing to exhale. If we won’t let go, we stop the natural flow of taking in
what we need right now and releasing what we don’t. And if we won’t let go,
we can’t make space for new breath.” (Peggy Fitzsimmons)

If you have decided that 2024 is the year you are going to tackle some organizing
and decluttering it is always best to do it in bite-size chunks. By doing so, you
avoid burning out or becoming overwhelmed by the process.
Here are 5 organizing and decluttering tasks with each of them being able to be
done in the space of a couple of hours:
● Do a closet audit:
Most of us wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time. In order to get a better
idea of what you reach for regularly, try turning all your hangers around in
your closet and then each time you wear an item, flip that hanger around
the opposite way when you put the item back. At the end of the season
this technique allows you to quickly see what you didn’t wear (and then
donate, sell or gift them to someone else). For dresser drawers you can do
the same thing by putting those items you wear the most often always at
the front of the drawer.
● Expired items:
Expired items can be a variety of things including pantry items,
medications, makeup, spices, or unidentified items in your freezer, etc. Pick
one area and focus on it for 15-30 mins. On another day do a second area
and so on. (Note: check with your pharmacy to determine the proper
disposal of medications.)
● Set up a ‘maybe’ box:
Many people hang on to items because they aren’t sure if they’ll need
them again. Go around your home and put items that fit into this category
into a large box labeled ‘MAYBE’. Date the lid of the box for 3 months from
now and put a reminder in your calendar to check the items in this box on
that date. If there is an item you need before then, pull it out of the box
and find a place for it to live in your home and then shut the box back up
again. If after 3 months you didn’t need any of those items, put them in a
donation box and drop it off. Items to consider for the ‘maybe’ box:

cookbooks, DVD movies, music CD’s, socks with no mates, mystery keys,
jewelry, unknown cables and cords, etc
● Digital decluttering:
Similar to the 20/80% clothing rule, the same can usually be said about our
mobile devices in that most of us really don’t need, use or want the
majority of the apps, files, emails, contact info, photos etc on our devices.
By decluttering our devices we can gain more focus, more clarity and
reduce distractions thereby improving our productivity. Another benefit is
that your device will work more optimally due to increased storage space
and less battery drain. Items to declutter on your phone: blurry or duplicate
photos, unwanted subscription sign up emails, unused apps, duplicate
documents, old emails, outdated contacts, etc
● Keep the memory and let go of the guilt:
Throughout our lives we have all brought home items that we thought we’d
use but then for one reason or another, we did not. And that’s okay. What’s
not okay is holding onto these items because we feel guilty that we bought
them in the first place. Letting go of these items either by selling or
donating them will make you feel lighter because you’ll also be releasing
any regret, unmet expectations or sad feelings that surround them. Items
to consider letting go of: clothing that doesn’t fit or that we are constantly
passing over, unused exercise equipment, unused kitchen appliances or
gadgets, unused inherited items, etc.
The key to decluttering is to make space for the person you are today. By doing
so you’ll be more in alignment with the person you want to be now and going
forward. Decluttering is empowering and gives you the opportunity to review
those things in your life that are essential while letting go of those items that no
longer serve you. Take a big breath, let it out and move forwards into 2024 with
more energy, focus and calm.

Share this page:

Holiday Organizing and Decluttering

(featured in OSCAR and Glebe Report December 2023 editions)

With so many holiday decor and decoration items available at this time of year, it’s hard
not to buy a few more items for your tree, your tabletop, your front door or your yard.
Often in our excitement for that ‘new’ holiday item we forget that we already had a similar
one or we realize that we now have so much decor, we have run out of room to display it
Here are a few tips and tricks that might help you to declutter and organize your holiday
decor and decorations this year:
Unpack first and buy second:
-Wait until you have unpacked your current holiday decor and decorations so that you
have a better idea of the categories and the volume of each category (ie. lights,
ornaments, tabletop items, outdoor decor, etc).
-By seeing the types of items you have and the volume per category, you can then pare
items down accordingly based on the available space you have to display those items.
-For any excess items, you can donate them and add them to someone else’s holiday
What truly brings you joy now:
-Over the years you’ve probably amassed lots of holiday decorations and decor. Some of
these items may no longer bring you joy (i.e. ornament from an old boyfriend). Perhaps
some of the items are outdated. Or you may realize that you have too many of a certain
category (i.e. all your adult daughter’s grade school popsicle stick ornaments).
-For ‘sentimental items’ that you no longer want, check with your children, other family
members or friends to see if they’d like to add them to their holiday collection. If they do
then you can create a labelled box of these items and include a dated note with a bit of
the history that surrounds these items (especially if they are a family heirloom).
-Keep your treasures and those you have an emotional tie to but consider taking a photo
of the other less meaningful items so you can keep the memory but let the item go.
Check functionality:
-Determine which items work (ie. electrical, musical). Take the time to repair those that
you want to keep and let go of those that cannot be repaired.
-You can check out the City of Ottawa Waste Explorer site to find out how to dispose of
these items.
Rotate Decor each year:
-If you have an excess of decor and decorations you may want to consider rotating your
decor each year (ie one year you use the silver decor and the following year you use the
red decor).
-If you find that you are often passing over certain items each year instead of displaying
them, donate those items or gift them to someone else.
Packing up your decor and decorations for next year:
-Use clear bins and store ‘like with like’ in them. And label each bin (ie. lights, tree decor,
table decor, etc). Labelled, clear bins make it easier to see what you have and access
those items more readily.

As wonderful as the holiday season is, the reality is that we live in a time of tremendous
consumerism due to products being easily manufactured, marketed and sold on an
enormous scale (and delivered to your door the next day).
We also live in a world where our planet is suffering from excess so determine what you
have before you buy and then donate, gift or responsibly discard those items that are no
longer meaningful to you. By doing so, you can truly add to the health of our planet,
keep items out of landfills and help others less fortunate who will no doubt have a better
holiday this season because of you. And in the end, isn’t that the true spirit of the holiday

Share this page:


Submission to OSCAR Newspaper for October edition

By Martha Tobin, Owner at Declutter4Good

Now that mobile phones have become indispensable, there are many reasons to organize and declutter the data they store, send and receive.

Here are 5 tips and tricks for doing that:

#1.  Make a note in your calendar each month to delete blurry or duplicate photos and organize any remaining ones into folders (i.e. work, personal, events etc.)  This will make it easier to download the ones you want to transfer to a hard drive or USB. 

#2.  Review your apps and delete those you no longer need or use

#3.  Unsubscribe to ‘junk’ emails as they arrive and/or ‘block’ those email senders

#4.  Make a note in your calendar to turn off your phone for a few minutes every month so that apps can update properly

#5.  Delete old contacts in your address book

A great time to do your ‘phone decluttering’ is when you are waiting (i.e. at a medical office, in an airport, etc).  The key is not to try and do it all at once but rather, break it down into ‘bite size chunks’ so that it is a less overwhelming task. 

As an added bonus, phone decluttering will help improve your battery life, optimize your device and save you time and energy when searching for items on your phone in general. 

In fact, any decluttering and organizing journey is always going to simplify your life, reduce your stress and give you back more mental space and calm. 

Share this page:

What if Decluttering and Organizing were like gardening?

Article by Martha Tobin as posted in the August issue of the Glebe report and OSCAR paper

What if….Decluttering and Organizing was like gardening.
This is the time of year when we all want to spend time outdoors and tending our gardens
instead of tackling the ‘stuff’ in our basement, garage, shed or attic. In fact, the very thought
of tackling those areas can seem very overwhelming.
Here are a few tips and tricks for approaching decluttering and organizing as you would

  1. Similar to pulling up those weeds that are strangling your other garden plants, focus
    on the items of trash in the area you want to declutter and separate those items out
    for disposal or recycling.
  2. By preparing your soil with compost and manure, you increase your soil quality and
    give your plants the nutrients they need to thrive. Preparing to declutter and organize
    is key too when tackling an area of your home. Have some cardboard boxes,
    garbage bags and bins on hand so that you can sort items more easily.
  3. Understanding your soil’s drainage in a garden contributes to a more lush garden.
    The same can be said when decluttering and organizing in that understanding what
    your vision is for that space you are working in, allows you to work towards that goal.
  4. In your garden paying attention to how much sunlight your plants need is key. When
    organizing, ask yourself what items you need on a daily basis versus weekly or
    monthly and then set up your space so that the items you need the most often are
    the most accessible.
  5. By clearing out those plants that are not thriving in your garden, you are able to
    showcase those that do. The same is true for decluttering and organizing in that by
    letting go of those items you no longer need, use, love or want, you are able to focus
    on those things that matter most to you.
    Gardening is good for the soul. It improves our overall wellbeing by increasing our optimism,
    our self-esteem and boosting our positivity. The same can be said about organizing and
    decluttering those spaces in your home that are making you feel fenced in and weighed
    down. By tackling these areas you will feel lighter, more focused with less feelings of stress
    and overwhelm. And like gardening, donating items is good for the soul as it ensures items
    have a second life with others in need in our community.

Martha Tobin is the owner of Declutter4Good

Share this page:

Decluttering in preparation for the Great Glebe Garage sale

Article by Martha Tobin published by the April issue of the Glebe Report

The Great Glebe Garage Sale is happening this year on May 27 (8 am -2pm).  This much-loved neighbourhood event is a wonderful opportunity to do some decluttering in your home in anticipation of the sale.   

Our homes are supposed to be our sanctuaries – the place where we can recharge and relax.   But when we have an excess of ‘stuff’, it weighs us down and fences us in thereby keeping us from feeling in control of our lives.   Decluttering is a wonderful way to take back control of your life by purging those items you no longer need, use, want or love.  

As you look around your home here is a quick and easy ‘5 Box method’ for sorting items:

Gather 5 boxes together and label them:

#1.  Items to sell

#2.  Items to trash, shred or recycle (ie. documents, old electronics)

#3.  Items that belong elsewhere in your home (ie. child’s homework)

#4.  Items that need to be returned (ie. borrowed book) 

#5.  The ‘Maybe’ items (ie. diplomas, awards)

This 5 box method will allow you to easily and quickly sort items in your home to determine the items you want to sell at the Great Glebe Garage sale (as well as knowing which items belong elsewhere in your home or need to be returned to someone else thereby not getting put out mistakenly on the day of the sale).

Typically items that are often of interest at the Great Glebe Garage Sale are furniture, small appliances, collectibles, sport items, clothing, LP’s, books, linens, art, dishware, jewelry, toys, etc.  

Below is some information that will help keep your expectations realistic as well as align with the expectations of buyers that day:

  1. Set up early so that you are prepared for the early birds.
  2. Price items individually or in groups (ie. bundle of comics for $0.50)
  3. Display items on tables or in boxes according to their category or price (ie. all scarves $0.75 each)
  4. Have a secure/out of sight cash box or apron with lots of coins and bills for change.
  5. Test the market demand as the day goes along and reduce prices accordingly.   Items at the right price sell better.
  6. If you have larger items that can’t be carted away by the buyer until later, tuck them out of sight and have an impromptu sales receipt available so that you can note the deposit given and exchange phone numbers to coordinate future pick up. 
  7. Working items in good condition sell.  Damaged, unworking items don’t.  (If you still think an item that is damaged or not functioning is sellable, be sure to note its condition clearly on the item so buyers are aware.)
  8. At the end of the day tidy up and pack your things away.  Recycle as much as possible.
  9. Check out the Glebe Community Association link regarding where you can donate items that didn’t sell.  Donating helps others in need in our community and diverts items from going directly into landfill sites.  
  10. Since 1986 the Great Glebe Garage sale has encouraged vendors to voluntarily donate 10% of their proceeds to the Ottawa Food Bank.  You can find more details here).

Spring is a particularly good time to declutter as many of us feel energized at this time of year with the better weather and warmer temperatures. And most of us already associate this time of year with spring cleaning.  

With the Great Glebe Garage sale just around the corner, there is no better time to let go of those items that are cluttering up your home.   If the thought of doing some decluttering on your own is overwhelming, reach out for some help at

Share this page:

Areas to Declutter in 15 minutes (as published by Martha Tobin in OSCAR March edition)

Life is busy.  Too busy.  So although we have the best of intentions, finding the time to declutter a whole room can be difficult and overwhelming. 

One less daunting way to declutter is to choose areas you can tackle in 15 minutes such as ones like these: 

-Kitchen island 

-bathroom countertop

-desk surface

-bedroom dresser 

-boots/shoes in front hall closet

Each area above is considered a ‘prime real estate’ location.  Items in these areas should only be those that you use daily as frequency of use determines degree of accessibility.   If items in these areas are used only weekly, monthly or seasonally, consider storing them in a less accessible location so they don’t clutter up this prime location. 

By doing 15 minute decluttering sessions, these little wins pave the way for bigger wins.  As well they help you feel a sense of accomplishment and keep you motivated to continue to tackle other areas. 

Share this page:

Decluttering to start the new year off right:

“You can’t get there from here
But if you prepare the here,
There comes here.” (A. Hicks)

Organizing and Decluttering your spaces and rooms is a great way to take control of
your new year and bring back into focus your dreams and goals for yourself.
Here are some tips and tricks to help you get there:
● As you pack away your holiday decorations, determine your favourites. Let
go of those that you no longer love, want or need. Take a photo to keep the
memory of these items and then donate them or start a box for your children’s
future homes.
● Keep in mind the ‘one in, one out rule’. For each of the gifts you received
this holiday season, let something else of that size or greater go so that you
can respect the equilibrium of space in your home. Donate or give these
items to a family member or friend who could use them.
● If you received gifts that you really won’t use, donate them and let
someone else enjoy them. For options on where to donate them, check out
● Take a walk around your home and let go of those items that no longer add
to your life (ie. the duplicates, clothes you no longer wear, art that you’ll never
put up, kitchen gadgets that you never use, excess linens, old tech items,
unmatched tupperware, etc).
● Set up a donation bin or box in your home. Make it easily accessible and
make it a habit to drop excess or unwanted items into it.
Remember that when you clear out items that you no longer need, use, love or want you
become more clear and more focused on those things and goals that matter to you now.
Life is short. Get rid of the excess and start truly enjoying your ‘now’ and your dreams for
the year to come.

Share this page:

Letting go of expensive items:

Do you have items that you spent a lot of money on but that didn’t live up to your expectations?  By letting them go you can focus on those items that remain and that truly are your treasures. Benefits of letting go of expensive items you don’t use:#1. With the holiday season around the corner perhaps consider gifting or donating these items. Or sell the item (so someone else can have it in time for the holidays.)#2. By letting go of items you don’t use or want you’ll have more focus on your life goals with less distraction.#3. You’ll immediately gain back valuable space.#4. You’ll increase your mental well-being by removing the bad feelings associated with these unused purchases.
Remember no one talks about their material possessions with their last breath. Be selective and keep the things you love and use.  Going through life with intention and lightening your load whenever you can is always beneficial. 

Share this page: