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:
-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.
“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 www.declutter4good.ca/charities/ ● 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.
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.
What a lovely surprise finding myself in an article in the August edition of the Glebe Report!
The article highlights the Great Glebe Garage Sale and an initiative that was a collaboration between Della Wilkinson and Kate Reekie from the GCA Environment Committee, GNAG and City staff at the Glebe Community Centre, with input from me on some of the charitable organizations where items can be donated (you can find the full article on page 13: https://www.glebereport.ca/…/Glebe-Report-August-19…
My husband and I are going to be downsizing to a two-bedroom retirement residence in January. In anticipation of this move, we have started decluttering our current four-bedroom home and realize we have too much stuff! We would like to donate much of it, but we don’t know where we can take our books, CDs, clothing and linens.
We also have some working electronics that we would like to donate (i.e., a couple of old laptops, a monitor, keyboards and a fax machine).
Where can we take items like these and know they will have a second life?
Signed, Determined to Donate
Thank you very much for making donations a priority as you downsize. By finding homes for items that can have a second life, you are not only diverting them from landfills and helping our planet, but you are also ensuring that others in need in our community have access to them. Thank you very much for making a difference!
There are many charitable organizations in Ottawa that will give your donations a wonderful second life. A site called Charity Wish List (charitywishlist.ca) is a great resource for determining where you can donate items. Just click on their “Find Charities by location and types of items wanted” button and plug in “Ontario and Ottawa” and you’ll get a list of items and where you can take them.
For books, you can reach out to Friends of the Ottawa Public Library, St. Joe’s Women’s Centre, Saint Vincent de Paul, Second Hand Stories, Twice Upon A Time and Ability First Ottawa.
For CDs, you can reach out to Friends of the Ottawa Public Library or Ability First Ottawa. You can also take them to thrift stores like Saint Vincent de Paul, Value Village and Salvation Army.
For clothing and linens, you can donate to Shepherds of Good Hope, Caldwell Family Centre and Big Brothers Big Sisters Ottawa.
For working electronics, you can donate them to Hartwood House, Immigrant Women Services Ottawa, Ottawa Valley Search and Rescue Dog Association and thrift stores like Saint Vincent de Paul and Salvation Army.
To protect your personal information, it’s a good idea to wipe your devices clean before you donate them. You can find out how to do this on the Recycle My Electronics site. (click here!)
For e-waste (electronics that cannot be used again), you can ensure the parts are recycled by bringing them to retailers who participate in a “return to retail” initiative. You can find these authorized locations at the Recycle My Electronics program link (Click here!).
To donate other items like used appliances, baby clothes, magazines, vehicles, food, furniture, musical instruments, pet-related items, sports equipment/sports clothing, office, home and school supplies, new and used toys and other miscellaneous items, you can also refer to the Charity Wish List site.
If you need further help finding a charity for a specific type of item not mentioned in the list, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. A great resource indeed!
As Aesop said, no act of kindness, however small, is wasted.
Martha Tobin is thrilled that her new business not only helps clients get rid of clutter, it also helps the environment by turning up a wealth of unwanted items that are recycled for others to use instead of being dumped in a landfill.
“I love that we transform lives for the better every single day,” says Tobin, who started Room2Breathe, her organizing and decluttering business, in July 2020 when COVID-19 steered her to a career change. Never looking back from that decision, she has helped countless clients throughout the National Capital region to reduce stress and feelings of being overwhelmed by helping them organize and declutter their homes.
“I decided to follow a lifelong passion and pursue organizing and decluttering,” she says. “I love it, and it’s been successful since day one.”
Tobin says the Room2Breathe team is sometimes asked just to declutter a basement, kitchen or garage but it’s often contracted to do an entire house. While helping clients get rid of excess things they no longer want or need, Tobin realized there were many wonderful and worthy items that could have a second life with others who could use them. Through this realization, the Donations That Do Good program was born.
The program decreases the waste sent to the landfill and gives back to the community by donating items clients no longer want to local charities. In many cases, clients are more willing to let things go when they realize it can help someone else through the donation program. “We are proudly committed to making a difference in our clients’ lives as well as in the lives of those in need in our community,” says Tobin. Her enthusiasm for her work and the donation program is obvious.
She explained that due to the challenges of finding places and time to drop off donations, unwanted items removed during decluttering would usually be put out on the curb on garbage day. To avoid that waste, the Room2Breathe team pack up their vehicles at the end of the day and take the items on behalf of their clients to local charities that are looking for those specific items (e.g., clothing, dishes, toys, small appliances, etc.) When there are larger items, like furniture, that Tobin’s team cannot handle, they recommend charities that the client can contact for a pickup.
“Our Donations That Do Good program is a win-win for our clients and our community,” says Tobin, “and it’s also a huge win for our planet in that we ensure that these donated items have a second life and are not going into landfills.” The charities that they can currently donate to are the Ottawa Boys and Girls Club, Immigrant Women Services Ottawa, Caldwell Family Services, CompuCorps, EcoEquitable, Bruevére, Heartwood House, Salvation Army, Diabetes Canada and Habitat for Humanity.
Tobin loves making connections with charities or other organizations that can use the donated items to raise funds or provide them to those in need. Items collected during a recent day of decluttering were donated to a garage sale for a refugee family. All proceeds went to the family, and unsold items were given to Caldwell Family Services. If you are a charity that needs specific items or you know a way the donations could help others, please reach out to Martha Tobin at email@example.com or 613-868-5197. To learn more about Room2Breathe and their Donations That Do Good program, check out the website at room2breathe.ca.
If you’ve been making efforts to reduce your waste, we may feature you in a future column. Please send a short paragraph explaining how you are reducing your household or business waste to firstname.lastname@example.org, attention Katie.
Katie Fice joined the Glebe Community Association’s Zero Waste Committee (a subcommittee of the Environment Committee) to learn about waste reduction and raise awareness of simple changes in our daily living that have a positive impact on the environment.
Decluttering is a daunting task at the best of times and your feelings of overwhelm may be holding you back from beginning. Here are 5 tips and tricks to get you started:
(1). Start with one room at a time and focus on one section of that room.
I recommend starting with the surfaces and removing all items from these surfaces (ie. desk or counter top).
(2). If you find items that belong in other rooms, just put them in a box labelled ‘other rooms’ and continue to stay in and on track with the room you are working on.
(3). For each item on these surfaces, determine if you still use it. For items no longer used, put them in a box labelled ‘to give’, ‘to sell’ or ‘trash’.
(4). For those items that you are keeping, ask yourself about their frequency of use. Prime real estate in that room is for items used hourly and daily (so placed within arms reach) while weekly and monthly items can be within standing or walking distance respectively.
(5). Once the surfaces of the room are decluttered, then pick another section of that room (i.e. drawers or cupboards) and repeat the above process.
By tackling decluttering one room at a time, you will not only see progress but that progress will keep you motivated to declutter other rooms.
Dear Martha, My partner continues to order online or bring home more and more purchases but we have so much ‘stuff’ that we now have piles everywhere because we have nowhere to put everything. The more stuff he brings home, the more stressed I feel. Any words of advice? Signed, Ready for calm Dear Ready for calm, You are completely correct – an excess of stuff does cause stress. Here are 3 practices that may help from Sarah Nettleton’s book, The Simple Home – The Luxury of Enough: (1). Look around your home and celebrate the ‘good choices’ that you have made when bringing something into your home (i.e installing shelving in your garage or adding a few woven baskets on a shelf in your entry hall for keys, sunglasses and masks,). (2). Consider the elimination of non-essentials by reviewing each room’s contents (start with the surfaces) and determine for every item if it is practical or emotional. Practical items are kept because you need them while emotional items are kept because they are sentimental. If an item is neither, consider letting it go (donate, sell or trash). (3). Celebrate restraint. If you do bring something new into your home, let something else go that you no longer need or want. Home’s only have a finite amount of space so by applying a ‘one in one out’ rule, you will be respecting the equilibrium of your home. “Homes that nurture us are not fortresses of exclusion, but rather clearings in a busy world that help us to dream new ideas and to be creative in our own way.” (Sarah
Dear Martha, My home has too much stuff but how do I determine what to let go of and what to keep? Signed, Unsure Dear Unsure, Here are 5 questions you can ask yourself to determine if you should keep something: (1). Do you love it? (2). Do you use it regularly? (3). Is the item in working order? (4). Do you have space for it and does it have a logical ‘place to live’ in your home? (5). For items of clothing, determine if it still fits and if it still suits your current lifestyle.
Take a look around you and start with a junk drawer, your linen closet or your bathroom cupboard. Ask the above five questions about each item you come across and if the item is no longer serving you, let it go. A life well-lived is about experiences not things.
“Removing clutter makes room for a life focused on the things that matter most. It opens up physical space in our home and mental space in our mind.” (Clear the