Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Organizing Your House: Garbage in, Garbage Out

Organizing Your Home: Garbage In, Garbage OutWhen you're talking about organization there's a rule to live by that will save you all sorts of hassle: Garbage in, garbage out. You might have heard in other contexts but what I mean here is that once you bring something into your home something else has to go.

We all have a finite amount of space and if you're like me every closet in your home is being used--I've never known anyone to have extra storage space because it's human nature to fill whatever closets and cabinets you may be blessed with to capacity. Think of gold fish, who will eat and grow as big as their tank allows--my junk kind of follows the same principles, absorbing any space I'll allow it.

SO . . . since everyone has a limited amount of storage and I'd bet money your shelves are full every time you bring anything new into the house something else has to go or else you'll have be overrun by stuff and that means clutter.

For example: It's easy when it comes to food because we're constantly consuming whatever I buy but clothing? If you buy a spring wardrobe you need to purge the closet of the things you don't use. Toss those shoes that you haven't worn for a year. Get rid of the stuff your kids can't wear anymore. If you really will use something again--such as baby clothes--then pack them away properly until that time when you really will need it. If you probably won't use it again (and play the odds people, if you're 67 and still hanging onto the box of onesies you're living in denial) then donate it to charity--that way not only are you doing something good for your closets you're doing something good for someone else.

If your children get birthday presents or holiday presents then that's a good time to clean out the toy box and get rid of a corresponding amount of junk that they don't play with anymore. Once again, you're doing good to yourself and to the charity of your choice but it's also good for your children. When children have a build up of toys not only do they not appreciate them they leave them lying around. Seriously--just get rid of their extras and enjoy the space it creates. It's completely liberating.

If you find a great book sale and come home with a stack of books then find others to donate away. Once you read a magazine don't let it linger in stacks in the basement but toss it out to be recycled. Think of it as reincarnation for the reading material you love: the magazine you toss today will come back to bless you as the magazine mailed to you tomorrow. Garbage in, garbage out--or maybe I should say good stuff in, good stuff out.

It's a good rule of thumb and helps keep the sanity going--and it help to remind us not to become too attached to "stuff."

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Here are two other organization posts from my archives that you might have missed:

Handy Shopper for Palm Z22
Another Good Use for Ziploc Bags

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24 comments:

Marcia said...

Love your post!

I love decluttering almost everything :)

Marcia, Organising Queen

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

You forgot to mention the part where you have to get rid of the kids' toys by shoving them into an opaque garbage bag when they are not looking and sneaking them out to the garbage in the dead of night, thereby making the neighbors think you are trying to dispose of dismembered corpses.

Blue Castle said...

I've done this every year, before Christmas, with my kids. Now if I can just do this with the rest of the house. :)

Janet said...

We found a wonderful bookstore that will take all our used books and give us basically store credit to "buy" new ones. So far we've managed to take in more than we bring home. Last year before Christmas I did the great toy purge. I hid everything for a month before giving it away. Unfortunately the children were with me when I took it. Everything was boxed up and I told the gentlemen who does the sorting that these were boxes of T-O-Y-S. It was then that I learned my 3-year-old could spell.

lifemoreabundant said...

This is SUCH a good tip. When I moved, I found a pair of pants I owned in college, 14 years ago. Why did I still have them? and who am I kidding with those size 8 clothes I keep holding on to "just in case?"

Amy said...

Great post- I need to really work on this. Thanks for the reminder!

Marie N. said...

I hate going through the process of changing the kids closets over to the next season's clothes, but I like the stack of stuff I can give away after the work is done. I am thankful for all the hand me downs that are crowding my attic while my kids are still too small for them.

The toy/game shelves are short on space here too, so I have gotten the kids in the habit of bringing me the things they don't enjoy or appreciate any more. Some of it is good only for the trash bag, bot some gan go to Goodwill.

BlapherMJ said...

Great post! Especially at this time of year with spring cleaning! Suburbancorrespondent - I've done that exact thing many times! LOL
My daughter calls me a ClutterPhobe but with 3 kids you collect a lot of junk and you just can't keep everything! :)

FrazzMom said...

Thanks for the reminder... It's definitely time to do some decluttering at my house!

Stephanie said...

Great post! I'm a big fan of de-cluttering and we go through our stuff regularly to pass things on to charity or friends. There's no sense in having an overstuffed house when other people are in need!

Lisa said...

I'm going on a rare shopping trip Outside next month, I actually hired an image consultant to help me go through my closet and purge the dated clothing and anything that doesn't fit. The best part? She's helping me make a list of anything I'll need to replace or buy.

An Ordinary Mom said...

Living in such a small apartment, we absolutely have to abide by this rule.

For example, baby coming in this July, much must go out now :) !!

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

I'm a huge believer in the 'garbage in, garbage out' theory, which we try to enforce around here, as we live in a condo with no attic, no basement, and no garage. Not much room for things we don't need/want/use. Not saying I'm always successful, but we do try.

Meliss said...

Hi

I haven't visited your blog in awhile. I like your template!

I agree with your philosophy. Unfortunately my husband doesn't! :)

My Ice Cream Diary said...

This is why we have a perpetual pile waiting to go to DI or Goodwill or the blind. But it still ends up that once or twice a year we have overload and have to do a major dejunking and just get rid of half of all we have. How does that happen?

miriama said...

You should have heard me. I yelled out "OMG! She does it, too!" LOL Vindication. You got new shirts? Cool. Give me 2 old shirts. Wow...new toys for Christmas? Then what are we giving to ****'s kids? Excellent.

This is brought home to me again as I get ready for the possibility of selling our home. I am trying to slow clean. And may I ask, where did all these old VHS movies come from? I know where they are going. Hello, Goodwill.

grace said...

It's the rule of the thumb in our home to give away old clothes if we are buying a new one because our current closet can't store that much.

MRMacrum said...

I dunno. Seems I was a saner man when allowed to scavenge and stash with abandon. Ever since my wife said no way to that red fiber glass rocket ship from a midway ride I found at the dump, she laid down the law. I not only have to toss twice as much as I find, unrelenting pressure to lighten our load is always there. Even if I don't find some cool something I just have to have cuz it's free, there's my wife with hard eyes making sure I come home with an empty pick up. Especially when returning from the dump. It's stressing me out.

A woman's sanity often comes at the expense of her main man's pain.

Of course what you write is sensible and would save us from that 30 yard dumpster we have to hire when we want to move. But there is security in clutter. Gather enough and a home can feel like a nest.

James and Angela said...

I loved your post. I need to declutter my house as well. You have great tips on how to go about it. I'm ready for some spring cleaning, if only I can get my packrat husband to declutter as well, maybe I'll suggest having a yard sale so he can feel like he's getting money for his "treasures".

WendyJanelle said...

Oh, I love this, but it's so hard. I keep thinking that the baby might really enjoy the toys that the older kids are done with now. And those 20 pairs of shorts he has-- well, you never know when sickness will strike and I may need them all! (sigh)
I do like to give things away, and that is what saves us. :-)
Magazines-- I always read them and then bring them to my homeschool group so they can circulate from there. They can still get a lot of "recycle" use before they come back as a "new" magazine.

Nan said...

We are pretty good about most stuff, but the BOOKS oh dear... Must try to get rid of some more books.

Nan said...

We are pretty good about most stuff, but the BOOKS oh dear... Must try to get rid of some more books.

Kelly @ Love Well said...

I have nothing to add, because you said it all so well.

We purged in a HUGE way last year before our move. And I've never been happier.

I keep telling people: Get rid of it. You won't miss it.

dad said...

well of course - anyone who doesnt like chocolate coated raisins is a fruit loop. keep eating