How Your Surrounding Space Can Help Improve Your Mental Health

patrick-perkins-3wylDrjxH-E-unsplash

Photo by Patrick Perkins on Unsplash

Whenever there’s an opportunity to make yourself feel better, seize it! The world is a hectic place, but your life doesn’t have to be.

Therapy isn’t the only way to improve mental health. There are some things you can do on your own to make yourself feel better – the space around you plays a big role in that. 

Do you know that feeling after cleaning up the house or decluttering your desk? That’s exactly what we mean by making yourself feel better. That feeling of motivation and positivity proves to what extent our surrounding space impacts our mental health. 

Here are some tips that can inspire you to improve your well-being and make meaningful changes to your space (and hopefully your inner and outer peace). 

Declutter regularly

“When my house is not in order, I don’t feel in order.”

Clutter can feel like your worst enemy. Picture yourself at the happiest you’ve ever been. Now imagine entering into a cluttered apartment. That feeling of disappointment that you are feeling only at the thought of clutter is proof that your surroundings play an enormous role in your life. The good news is that it doesn’t take that much effort to bring a positive change and to make yourself feel better. Decluttering requires a little will power and a couple of hours of your life (weekly or monthly depending on your desired level of decluttering).

Redecorate

Everybody enjoys a change here and there. Redecorating and changing your space can have a positive impact on your mental health. Those changes don’t have to be immense. Even the slightest update in your living room can put a smile on your face.

Why don’t you consider adding more plants to your space? You probably already know how healthy they are for their air-purifying elements, but they have some healing powers too. Plants will create a more natural atmosphere that will be more pleasant to be in.

(Caitlin’s note: I recommend Wild Interiors and Just Add Ice for indoor plants!)

Apart from adding green to your surroundings, you can bring more colors to your life by painting the walls. Colors can influence moods, so you should choose them carefully. For example, the blue color is known for its calming and soothing power, while yellow can boost your energy and put you in a better mood. 

Rearrange the furniture

While redecorating might require some time and money investment, rearranging the furniture definitely takes less effort but has a big role in elevating your mood.

My mum used to do this a lot when I was a kid, especially when she was feeling blue. A different living room set-up would always brighten up the house. Since my childhood, this was my go-to method for making myself feel happier.

Eventually, which furniture set-up works the best for you and your family depends on, well, you and your family. Try more options until you settle for the one that fits you the most and supports your daily activities in the most productive way.

Spruce up your workplace

“We are defined by where we spend our time.”

For most of us, our workplace is where we spend the majority of our time. There’s no denying that our job and office highly impact our mental health. So how do we turn this to our advantage? 

1) Add more plants

Plants are a must-have for every office space for health reasons and productivity. Even if you’re not working from home, but in a shared office space, there’s no way your colleagues or managers will object to having plants in the office. 

2) Clean and organize your desk 

Your desk needs to be taken care of regularly. Try to tidy up your office desk as soon as you are done for the day. Avoid keeping unnecessary documents or paper on it, that’s what file cabinets are for. Your desk should be fully optimized and free of clutter. Office tools like binders can also be very practical and can help you keep your space organized.

3) Let there be light and air

Good lighting and fresh air are crucial for every workspace. Nothing like those sun rays to make you feel productive and alive! 

Bonus tip: Leave the window open while you are on your lunch break. There is less chance that you will feel sleepy after eating if your office is well-aired. High temperatures can also cause you to feel sleepy, hence not productive, which is another reason to let air circulate.

4) Get a pet

A pet-friendly atmosphere will lift the mood of any workplace. If you are working from home, why don’t you consider getting a pet? If you are managing a workplace, definitely consider getting a pet for your employees. Not only that you will have a beautiful distraction from work, but you will also give and receive so much love, which will eventually make your work blossom.

5) Get inspired

Different people get inspired by different things. Your office space should reflect your personality, your desires, and your goals. You’ve surely noticed how some parents put framed photos of their children on their desks. It is what keeps them going, what makes them feel good and productive. It can be anything, from photos of your close ones to vision boards, places you’d like to visit, anything. What makes you good at your job? What’s your goal? Feel free to frame it and put it in a visible place so that you can get daily reminders of your path.

6) Add some colors

You will hear quite often that employees complain about the lack of color in their workplace. If you are one of them, share this constructive feedback with your managers so that they can consider adding some colors to your office. 

If you are lucky enough to be working from home, you should definitely do some research on colors that would fit you the best – not only can the right colors do wonders for your productivity, they can also improve your well-being and lift your mood. No need to paint your home office walls if that’s not your cup of tea; there are other ways to add color – rugs, paintings, photos, ornaments, etc.

The most important advice I’ve ever received was to always listen to myself. You should do the same. If it makes you feel bad, get rid of it. Experiment with your home, office space, walls, and furniture as much as you want until you get it right. Create a space where you will feel peaceful and happy – what more could a person ask for?

About the author

tess

 

Tess Cain loves being organized. If she is not working at office.eco, then she’s dedicating her time to staying clean, clutter-free and organized. She also likes the outdoors, working out and volunteering.

Simple Ways to Create Calm in Your Workspace

Hey friends! This week’s post is a guest blog from Johanna Cider of Musings of Johanna

calm workspace 1

Image Source: Pexels

Is your workspace causing you stress? Your physical environment at work can affect your mood, focus and productivity. If your workspace is elevating your stress levels, it’s important to make some changes.

Taking time to create calm in your work environment will have numerous benefits. Ultimately, you’ll feel happier, more relaxed and motivated to get tasks done. Here are a few simple ways to promote calm in your workspace.

Bring in Nature

Exposure to nature has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. Most of us spend so much time inside the office that we don’t get enough time in nature. But that doesn’t mean you can’t bring nature indoors. Consider adding a couple of potted plants to your workspace. This will create a calming environment, improve the air quality and liven up the look of your space.

Declutter

Is your desk area surrounded by clutter? Keeping organised is the best way to promote calm and order at work. Taking some time to de-clutter will make a huge difference to your daily productivity. Go through all your documents, papers and items, storing away what you don’t need. Create an efficient system so that you know where everything is kept. Get rid of anything that could be a distraction during your day-to-day work tasks. Prioritise tidying your desk regularly. A clear, organised workspace will result in a clearer mind.

Invest in a Comfortable Office Chair

When you spend all day sitting at your desk, it’s important to be comfortable. Investing in a high-quality chair will do wonders to improve your mood. You will immediately feel more motivated if you feel comfortable throughout the day. You’ll spend less time fidgeting in your chair and more time focused on your tasks. Another option is to get a relaxing chair to sit in during your breaks. Look for a cosy chair in your favourite colour. Having your own relaxation chair at work is a great way to manage your stress.

calm workspace 2

Image Source: Unsplash

Add a Personal Touch

Creating a workspace that you enjoy being in helps encourage calm and relaxation. Plus, an uninspired environment does no good for your creativity or productivity. Try to add little touches of your personality here and there (as long as it’s not overly distracting). For example, you could bring in a couple items that remind you of home, like family photos or artwork. These homey reminders will help you feel at peace during periods of stress.

Adjust the Lighting

Big windows with natural lighting are ideal in a working environment, as the sun is a natural mood booster. If you don’t have big windows, it’s crucial to get the right balance of artificial light. Fluorescent lighting can be harsh on the eyes, making it difficult to focus. Instead, go for soft ambient lighting to create a more relaxing feel.

calm workspace 3

Image Source: Pxhere

Bring in Relaxing Scents

The smells around you can affect your mood. Some smells, like lavender, are known to have calming properties. Why not bring some relaxing smells into your office space? Scented candles, flowers or essential oils can help to create a soothing atmosphere. Focus on the scents that make you feel happy and calm.

Keep Water at Your Desk

Many of us forget to stay hydrated throughout the busy workday. This can affect our overall energy and ability to focus. Keeping a large bottle of water at your desk will remind you to stay refreshed. The more refreshed you are, the easier it will be to stay calm in stressful situations.

Author Bio:

Johanna is passionate about home and design and is currently addicted to TV shows about house flipping and home renovation. However, on most days, she is busy crafting articles for blogs and local sites such as Hercules Gazebo. She resides in the laid-back city of Wellington, New Zealand. You can find the best excerpts of her written work on her blog, Musings of Johanna.

 

Book Review: The Minimalist Home by Joshua Becker

minimalist home

Photo from becomingminimalist.com 

Everybody has the aha! moment that starts their journey to minimalism. For me, it was a basement full of stuff at my mom’s house after my first divorce. For some, it’s knowing there’s a pizza cutter somewhere in the kitchen but being absolutely unable to find it in all the chaos. For Joshua Becker, it was when a neighbor mentioned that people don’t actually have to have so much stuff when Joshua was mid-garage-cleanout.

Joshua is the mind behind the Becoming Minimalist blog and the author of Clutterfree with Kids; Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter Their Home and Life; The More of Less; and the freshly published as of December 18 The Minimalist Home. I received an advance copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. So here we go, my honest review of The Minimalist Home.

First, it’s similar to other minimalism and decluttering books. But everyone has their own spin on the approach. Where Marie Kondo suggests touching everything to check for joy, category by category, and Dana K. White outlines the way you can declutter whether you have five minutes or five hours, Joshua Becker has a blended approach. His decluttering method goes room by room and follows the same basic steps each time, but what I really found differentiating in his book was the checklist for each room that was based on questions to ask yourself that focus more on how the space feels vs. how it looks.

Here’s an example from the chapter on kitchens and dining areas:

  • Is my kitchen easy to maintain and keep clean? Does it promote safety?
  • Is this a space I enjoy cooking in?
  • Are the tools I use most frequently easy to access?
  • Have I removed visual clutter from counters and surfaces?
  • Does my kitchen promote healthy eating habits?
  • Does this space encourage optimistic attitudes in the morning?
  • Does my dining room offer freedom to move about, rather than being cramped and cumbersome?
  • Does my dining area offer opportunity for meals together as a family – a place where we can recap the day?
  • Does my dining area encourage me to show hospitality to others?

Some of these questions are predictable and common sense (clean counters and surfaces, tools easy to access, etc.), but I was opened up to a new way of thinking about clutter when the questions became “is this a space I enjoy?” and “does the space promote optimistic attitudes?” and “does my dining area encourage hospitality?”

Suddenly the kitchen is no longer just another room to pass through on my way into the house after a long day, but the place I start a productive day with a healthy breakfast and the place that my partner and I feed each other and our friends. We actually enjoy hosting friends for dinner, and we’ve benefited from organizing our kitchen and the rest of our home in a way that makes the entire place feel more hospitable and welcoming.

Also throughout the book, Joshua includes stories from his readers and followers about the real-life ways minimalism has given them freedom. Freedom is a big theme of the book, whether it’s the freedom to travel, freedom of income when you stop spending so much on random stuff, freedom to whip up an impromptu scone because you know exactly where all the baking equipment is in your well organized kitchen. The combination of real life experience helps drive home the points that Joshua makes, because you can clearly see the tangible and intangible benefits of simplifying your space.

The chapter that made the biggest impact on me was about the home office. Having a simple and pleasant work space makes all the difference, whether you work from home or just need a place to pay the bills. I moved in with a partner about three months ago, and the whole house feels optimized… except the office. My desk has become a repository of stuff I haven’t dealt with yet. But I am an author and I work from home part-time for my day job, so I kind of NEED TO DEAL WITH IT. Joshua’s questions (“Does this space encourage me to focus on my work?” “Does this space invite me to enjoy the work I do?” “Is this space easy to maintain?”) forced me to acknowledge that I want to create a safe haven for my work so that I can feel better and more excited about sitting down to be creative. Thanks, Joshua.

After a room by room guide to minimizing, the book also includes a Minimalism Maintenance Guide, with tips on staying minimalist once you’ve pared down to a new baseline of simple living. This is often one of the hardest parts of minimalism, especially when you live with someone and must contend with other people’s possessions too.

Overall, I quite enjoyed reading The Minimalist Home. It’s an easy read and very skimmable if you already know the basics and just need a refresher, but reading it closely will provide more context and a better feel for the why behind simplifying and de-owning possessions. The book is full of shareable bite-sized wisdom you can tweet or write down for later, such as “Just because you have the space doesn’t mean you have to fill it with stuff,” and it comes from a wonderfully approachable perspective. Anybody can start minimizing and creating their own minimalist home!

Keep up on where you can buy The Minimalist Home on Joshua Becker’s website. Many sellers are already out of stock!

 

 

 

Book Review: Decluttering at the Speed of Life

It’s been a while since I did a post on decluttering and minimalism, and I am so excited to give a rave review of Dana K. White’s book Decluttering at the Speed of Life. I downloaded it using the Hoopla app (which lets you use your library card to borrow six titles per month for FREE) and listened on my commute.

I’ve been through some stuff lately, y’all. I am moving for the second time in seven months. When I packed up and moved out of my ex-husband’s house, I realized that I was barely taking up space in that house. I’d pack my items up in each room and look at what was left behind, bewildered that it looked essentially the same. I had been trying to take up space for four years and though I’d hung art on the walls and organized the Pyrex containers the way I liked them, it never really felt like home.

With this move, I was determined to take up space and make my apartment a true home for myself filled with joy. I made a reading nook corner that I never used, I found the perfect chair at the Habitat for Humanity Store that I never sat in, and I used an air mattress as a couch because screw giant furniture. And I was happy there. Until I decided to move again ahead of schedule as part of Operation De-Stress.

Turns out, I still had stuff I didn’t use, need, or even want. Like the two sets of towels I received as wedding gifts that are still in their packaging. We got married over two years ago. Plus, some of the cute towels I bought when I moved in aren’t all that absorbent despite the fact that they match my bathroom theme. They’re in the donate box now. LuLaRoe clothing that I held onto for their resale value are just in the donate box. The white linen skirt I wore at my wedding, which I had planned to use in some piece of inspired transformative artwork, is in the donate box.

Because, hold up, this book has changed my life.

First of all, Dana K. White is the author of the blog A Slob Comes Clean, which started as an anonymous “practice blog” where she could confess her dirty house secrets. But then it turned out that a ton of other people related to her clutter woes and she ended up building a huge following and brand and I’ve consumed her books Decluttering at the Speed of Life and How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind.

You should read these books if you have a messy home that you feel like you can never get out from under. Right now. Find them.

Here are the things Dana has taught me:

  1. The Visibility Rule: Start your decluttering project in the most visible places in your home. Where do you enter your home (and where do guests enter)? Look at your home as if you are a visitor and start decluttering the most obvious spaces. Clear your “slob vision” by looking at your home through new eyes.
  2. Don’t Pull Everything Out: I used to postpone decluttering because I wanted to go in KonMari style and do whole categories at a time. But I have other stuff to do, and I don’t always have the time or energy or wherewithal to pile every piece of clothing I own on the bed, touch it, and ask if it brings me joy. Dana helped me understand that I can declutter effectively without this en masse approach.
  3. The Container Concept and One In One Out: This is something I actually had done before, in my earliest days on the blog. I had a small bookshelf and decided I’d only keep the books that fit. The bookshelf was my container. But this method died a quick and painful death when I moved in with my “collector” ex, who had shelves upon shelves upon totes upon totes of books, technology, toys, hobby equipment, and clothes. And he was a shover. I cannot stand shoving. If a drawer is too full to close and needs shoved, there is a problem. Dana’s book reminded me that if there’s shoving, it’s time to remove something until the container is actually containing things.
  4. Start with Trash and Easy Stuff: Dana’s decluttering steps are so simple and obvious, I feel ridiculous that I never did it her way before. When you’re in your most visible space, start by throwing away or recycling the trash. Then look for Easy Stuff, things that obviously don’t belong in this space. Then…
  5. Take It There Right Now: Get rid of your Easy Stuff by putting it in its proper place as soon as you pick it up. Also, as you’re decluttering, ask yourself “Where would I look for this first?” and take it there RIGHT NOW. (MIND BLOWING – No “Keep” Boxes allowed).
  6. Donate the “Almost Perfect:” This one hit me so hard. If there’s something you keep around but don’t tend to use because you don’t like one thing about it, it’s time to say goodbye. This is what helped me let go of a super cute dress that didn’t fit right in the bust, as well as the aforementioned not-super-absorbent-but-really-cute towels. But now all my towels fit on one shelf in the linen closet with no more shoving!

There’s plenty more, but I really seriously want you to read her book. Also, she has a podcast. I am gonna die of excitement.

How to Purge Your House: By Category

how to declutter your house by category

Last week we talked about how to purge and declutter your house by going through each room and completing it before moving onto the next room.

Another option to declutter your home is to purge by category. This means you gather up all related items from the entire house and sort them all at once, then put them back in their respective homes.

Pros and cons of the category method

I personally dislike this option because it requires a lot of running back and forth between rooms and gives you opportunities to miss items that might be hidden away or stored somewhere. This is a way for distractions to take hold, if you happen to notice something that needs dealt with while you are moving from room to room gathering items.

However, this is a good option if you happen to have your clothing or other items in multiple rooms or closets because it helps you understand how much “clutter” you are dealing with in a certain category.

For example, I have a pair of boots by the back door, 3-4 pairs of shoes in my bedroom closet, and a couple pairs of shoes in the coat closet. For me to look at any one of these locations, it would seem like a decent amount of shoes, but when I get them all together, it is clear that I need to pare down my shoe collection.

If we were to amass all of the books in our home in one place, we would probably collapse a hole in the floor. Maybe we won’t declutter those by category. You know, for structural integrity’s sake.

Declutter categories

Potential categories for this purging method include:

  • Accessories
  • Bags
  • Blankets and bedding
  • Books
  • Car related items
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Clothing
  • Craft supplies
  • Cutlery and kitchen utensils
  • Dishes
  • Disposable items
  • Electronics
  • First aid supplies
  • Food
  • Furniture
  • Games
  • Jewelry
  • Magazines
  • Makeup and toiletries
  • Medicines
  • Movies
  • Office supplies
  • Pictures
  • Purses
  • Shoes
  • Spare parts and hardware
  • Spices
  • Tools
  • Towels and washcloths
  • Toys

You can, of course, go by categories that make sense for you, especially if you have a collection or hobby not listed, such as photography (cameras, lenses, other goodies!) or baseball cards, etc.

How to declutter by category

The steps for decluttering by category are essentially the same as decluttering by room.

  1. Begin by clearing a space for your stuff, such as a bed, table, or floor.
  2. Gather all items throughout the house in the category and bring them to the central sorting location.
  3. Evaluate all items, asking the same questions listed in the previous method – have you used or do you plan to use the item in a month, three months, six months, twelve months? Do you love it? Does it belong?
  4. Sort your items into donate/sell/trash/keep boxes.
  5. Take the trash out, take the donations to an organization, put the sell stuff into a designated space, and put the “keep” stuff away.
  6. Continue to the next item category on your list.

Which sounds best for your particular situation – decluttering by room or by category? Tell us all about it in the comments.

How To Purge Your House: Room by Room

Declutter house part one

For a lot of people, minimalism jumps upon them swiftly when they look around and suddenly wake up to the fact that they’re surrounded by unneeded stuff. For others, they take a slower approach.

I find that the quick and dirty process gives much better results and helps you stick with it long term, because you put in all your effort in one huge push of time, energy, and sweat, and you do it while focusing on the fact that your goal is to have LESS STUFF. You go from being a person of stuff to a person of less stuff, rather than saying “Oh I’m working on decluttering!” for a year at a time, all the while still accumulating more stuff.

(I feel the same way about dietary changes. Don’t hem and haw about reducing your sugar intake by grams per day… just cut it out and bask in the glory of a better life).

There are a few methods of purging your home – this post will focus on how to purge and declutter room by room.

Purge Your Home By Room

Purging your home by room is just what it says – you go one room at a time and complete the decluttering process on the entire room. I like this method for a few reasons:

  1. It saves time – you do not have to go around finding things from multiple rooms. You just do the room you’re in.
  2. It is intuitive – you can work throughout your house in an order that makes sense to you, either top to bottom, clockwise by room, do bathrooms then bedrooms, etc.
  3. It is conducive to breaks – you need breaks when you work, and completing an entire room gives you an opportunity to take a break at a meaningful point.
  4. It is easy to chunk – while the best option is to do your entire house in one fell swoop, that isn’t always possible. Decluttering by room gives you a way to complete sections of the house and know where to pick up where you left off.

Begin by making a list of every room in your house, and number them in the order you will complete the decluttering or purging process. Got your list? Ok – let’s do this thing!

Be clear about your goals

Before you begin, take some time to get clear about your goals for decluttering and embracing a more minimalist lifestyle. What do you hope to gain? Here are some ideas:

  • Having a home without clutter will help me feel more at peace.
  • Minimalism will help me prioritize physical and emotional “stuff” in my life.
  • Purging the house on a grand scale will help me move on from an emotional trauma.
  • Not being tied down by so many possessions will allow me to feel free.
  • When I purge my belongings I will be able to pursue a dream.
  • When my home is free of unneeded items, I will be out of excuses and will work on a goal I have been avoiding by hiding behind the mess in my house.
  • Finally accomplishing this task will give me a sense of pride in my home.

Once you have your goals and affirmations clear, you can begin. It may help to write some of these things down so that when you’re halfway through bedroom #2 and you want to crawl on the couch and watch the latest season of Orange is the New Black on Netflix with a bottle of wine and a pint of gelato, you will be able to stay clear on your intentions and power through he process.

12 Steps to Purge a room

  1. Get some boxes, bags, or baskets for sorting items.
  2. Remove everything from all cabinets, drawers, etc. If you’re in the bedroom, empty your closets, dressers, nightstands, and shelves. Nothing is to be in a storage space.
  3. Put all the room’s stuff in a pile on the bed, kitchen table, floor, or other handy flat surface.
  4. Clean cabinets, drawers, etc. This step is optional but you may as well take advantage of the fact that they’re empty and give them a quick wipe down!
  5. Inspect each item carefully. Have you used it in the last month? Three months? Six, nine, or twelve months? Do you PLAN to use it in the next month/six months/year? Is it past an expiration date? Do you love it? Do you use it? Does it belong in this room?
  6. Sort everything. You should sort into the following categories: Keep (in this room), keep (belongs in another room), trash, recycle, donate, sell.
  7. Take the trash and recycling out of the room (or, ideally, out of the house entirely) as you fill bags.
  8. Take “sell” boxes to a designated storage space in your house. Write the date you decluttered the items on the boxes. If you haven’t held the yard sale within 3 months,this stuff goes to Goodwill.
  9. Take “donate” boxes and bags to a donation facility at the end of the day.
  10. If you have truly “undecided” items, put them in a box and mark the date on it. If you do not go looking for the items within 3 months, donate them without opening the box.
  11. For things that belong in another room, take them to the room where they belong (you don’t have to put them away yet, because you’ll be decluttering this room later).
  12. For things that you are keeping in the room you are decluttering, put them away when you have finished sorting.

Repeat these 12 steps for every room you declutter.

I recommend you set aside an entire weekend and devote it entirely to decluttering your house. This type of rapid fire approach leaves little time to second guess yourself.

Decluttering traps

So many things can derail you when you finally get the ball rolling on your decluttering plan. Watch out for these bad boys of the purging process:

  • Sentimental items. I know, it’s hard, but unless you truly cherish and regularly use or gaze upon an item, it is okay to let it go. This is relevant to the inheritance of relatives or even your high school calculus notes. I know some of you have a tote of school stuff in your mom’s basement. Get real. You’re not using it.
  • Gifted items. I always feel like I owe it to a gift giver to keep their gift. It was thoughtful of them to get me something, right? That is true, and it was thoughtful, but try considering that the gift’s true purpose, which was a moment of joy when it passed from gifter to giftee, has already been fulfilled. It is ok to let go of a gift you no longer use or need.
  • Paperwork micromanaging. This one has been my downfall since the dawn of decluttering. You find yourself moving at a good clip and then suddenly – PAPERWORK. I will give you a pass, just this once, to throw all paperwork in a box to be sorted and/or digitized later. Your main goal is to declutter your whole house.
  • Organization containers. These containers exist for one reason: to make hoarding look pretty. There is a time and a place for organizational containers, but you don’t need to make a run to the office supply store in order to achieve your decluttering goals. Focus on moving through the room before you worry about cute ways to store cotton balls and Q-tips.

Get to work! Or, learn more next week.

Does decluttering by room sound like a good method for you? Great! Get to work and tell me how it goes. Or, if you want to learn a different method next week, stick around, because I have more to teach you!

Share any other pitfalls you run into when decluttering and I’ll include them in the next post.

When to sell vs. donate

You have decided to de-clutter your home – great! But as you begin to sort through your belongings to decide what stays and what goes, you may consider, “What do I do with this stuff now?”

As you de-clutter, you will be making four basic categories of stuff:

  1. Stuff to keep
  2. Stuff to sell
  3. Stuff to donate
  4. Stuff to toss (recycle if possible)

Keep and toss are pretty self-explanatory. Sell vs. donate can become a sticky situation.

You spent good money on that stuff, why would you just dump it without trying to recoup some of your investment back? That’s completely true for big ticket items such as electronics, specialty books, collectibles, fitness equipment, furniture, formal dresses and new clothing, kitchen appliances, tools, children’s toys and clothing, etc. These can be sold at yard sales, on websites such as Craigslist or Ebay, or at consignment shops. I come from a long line of yard sale mavens, both in the buying and selling departments. I love a bargain and I love getting rid of stuff while I make money doing it.

But here is a hard truth: Sometimes it is not worth the effort to have a yard sale or to price and list everything online. Sometimes it is better for your mental health to just let it go and donate it, whether that is on Freecycle, to a local shelter, or to an organization such as the Salvation Army or Goodwill.

My mother had a joint yard sale with a friend early in the summer. She told me to price up all of my stuff and she would take care of the yard sale itself. After going through the whole house and boxing and bagging stuff to purge and sell, my boyfriend and I made about $300 for very little effort – what a success! We wanted to do more yard sales. My mom agreed to house the leftover stuff at her house with the caveat that I had it out of the basement by September 1.

So we had a yard sale. And I think we made about $50 for two days of work. That second sale was not worth the time and effort that went into it. I loaded two more car loads of stuff to take to my mom’s house for the sales. We set up tables and tents. We carried a bookshelf outside to put all the books on for display (which helped on day 2 but only helped about two dollars worth).

We were going to have yet another sale, but I was officially over it and couldn’t bear to host yet another sale. So I packed up two car loads of boxes and bags and took it to Goodwill. On top of that, I still brought a car load of stuff home again! Some of the things I think we can sell on Ebay or Craigslist, but if I can’t move it within a month or so, it will also be donated.

GOODBYE, STUFF!

As an added bonus, you can claim charitable donations as a tax deduction, so don’t fear that your stuff investment will go completely to waste. You can recoup a little bit come tax season.

To recap:

You should SELL your items if…

  • They are typical “hot sellers” at yard sales or sale sites
  • They are in good working order or near mint condition
  • They are collectible items
  • They are in good shape and can be sold at a consignment store (this is a good option for clothing in new or nearly-new condition)
  • They feel worth the effort of your time and energy to sell (and possibly ship, if you are selling online)

You should DONATE your items if…

  • You don’t want to expend the time and energy to *maybe* make a sale
  • They are common household items with low demand at sales
  • You want a tax write off for your donation
  • You want to support a specific charity (for which your donation is relevant – think prom dress charities, etc.)
  • You just want the stuff gone NOW

What are your methods for determining whether you should sell or donate?