Donating Process

Last week I talked about how organizing is really a process and therefore is never finished.  There’s always more to be done.  If we don’t continue the process of keeping things organized, our homes easily become overrun with clutter – in the purest sense of the word.  We need to discover the process that will work for each of us and for each thing that needs a process – creating the routines for organization.

For many people the process of getting rid of still good things can be the most challenging – especially once you’ve reached that relatively organized state.  Also, making it part of the flow of life means continual work.

“How do I know it’s time to get rid of this?”

Sometimes I struggle to get rid of things – they’re not broken, or torn, or worn out, or stained – they are still quite usable.  Yet, do I use them?  I’ve gotten to the point that if I am not actually using them and cannot imagine using them (sometimes from trying to force myself to make it usable) they go into my donate pile.  The thing is that if you are not using it, is there a good reason to keep it?  I find that I am using things I love and appreciate, so if something isn’t getting used, it’s more likely that I don’t love it.

“I won’t have time to drop this off at a nonprofit for a while.”

If you’ve ever heard me present, I talk about how we’re not finished until we get the things out of our home, out of our garage, out of our car.  This is true – if it’s still in your possession you are not free from the things.  Although this is not a good reason to stop yourself from moving things further along in the process of getting it out of your space.  More important than being able to quickly get it out of your space is to ask how much you’re accumulating that’s waiting to leave?  If you have a lot (and you get the define that for yourself), then you need to make time – schedule it – to get the things out of your space.

“I don’t have time to go through [insert space in your home] to purge things.”

First, theoretically your spaces aren’t in need of a major overhaul – we’re talking about maintaining organizing as part of the normal life.  If we integrate the process of organizing into normal living, we find a way to naturally purge things that are ready to go to their next home.  If you are standing in front of your closet and recognize a shirt that no longer fits, is stained, you now dislike, whatever the case may be – pull it out right then.  The same thing applies in any space – when you see something and recognize that it’s no longer useful to you, it’s time to remove it from that space.

“I can’t believe how much has accumulated so quickly.”

First, congratulations on noticing – that’s great and means that you can take steps to deal with it.  After noticing, the next step is to deal with it and create systems to help limit the accumulation in the future.  This is when systems are important – a way to create a flow for things to leave rather than collect.  From my experience, things collect – period.  If we don’t stay on top of it, the next time we look, it’s grown: kipple is the name I always think of (and wrote about).


The way that I deal with the process of getting rid of things is to have a box in one room – near a door, yet out of the way.  Each time I come across something that is no longer used or loved it makes it’s way to the box.  Once the box begins to fill up, I spend time listing the items in the box for tax purposes and close the top of the box.  Often I do this after I get a call from a charity that is scheduling pick-ups in my area – and I do this regardless of how full or empty the box.  If we’ve been busier with the purging, it really is once the box is full and then I evaluate whether I want to wait for the next phone call for a pick-up or if I want to drop it off myself.

It’s a great way to help kids learn the process – put a box in a corner or in the closet and involve your kids in deciding what they’ve outgrown – both clothes and toys.  I find a box placed strategically the easiest in helping the process of moving things out – whether that is one box or a box per room or per floor.  Remember, whatever works for you and helping you keep things moving through.

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