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:

Donation places in Ottawa:

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:…/Glebe-Report-August-19…

Below are some of the donation places mentioned:

Caldwell Family Centre:

Charity Wish List


Diabetes Canada

Dress for Success:

Friends of the Ottawa Public Library Association:

From House to Home:

Habitat for Humanity

Hakim Optical:

Heartwood House:

Helping with Furniture:

Highjinx: Neighbours Helping Neighbours


Ottawa Outdoor Gear Library:

Ottawa Tool Library:

Resettlement Resource Service Volunteers 613-791-3877 (Paul)

Salvation Army:

Secondhand Stories:

The Well:

Twice Upon a Time:

Share this page:

Organizing and Decluttering a GARAGE:

#1.  Pick a day where you can take everything out of your garage.

#2.  Lay out all the items on your driveway or lawn.

#3.  As you bring items out from the garage, sort the items into

       categories (ie. gardening, tools, sports, holiday decorations,

       luggage, car accessories, lawn and snow equipment, toys, etc).

#4.  Review items in each of these categories and determine the

       items that you want to keep, items that are trash/recycle, items

       that you are able to donate/sell, items you have duplicates of,


#5.  Working with the ‘keep’ items, determine how much you have in

       each category and then set up zones for those categories.

       Items that are used the most often should be in the most

       accessible zones.

#6.  Install additional shelving, hooks and (clear) bins as needed

       so that you can find ‘homes’ for the items you are keeping.

#7.  Label your bins – masking tape and a sharpie work great!

Share this page:

Getting Started-Organizing & Decluttering made easy

Getting started

  • Pick a small space (ie. nightstand, drawer, pantry, etc.)
  • Have 5 boxes at the ready: 
  1. items that belong elsewhere or to someone else in the home 
  2. items that belong to someone outside the home
  3. ”maybe” items
  4. items to donate/sell
  5. items for trash/recycle
  • take all items out of the area you want to declutter
  • sort items into your 5 boxes.  NOTE: for the ‘maybe’ items put them in a box and date the box.  Review in 3 to 6 months.  If you’ve not needed those items in that time, consider donating them
  • now working with the items you have left, determine if those items are used daily, weekly or monthly and then assign them areas in your based on their frequency of use
  • in the area you are working on, consider using bins, shelf risers, drawer dividers etc to keep ‘like with like’ items together. 

Share this page: