Valentine’s Day is this week and I’m in the mood to share the love 💜of organizing! My dear ol’ friend, Cheryl Gilbert, has a great story to tell about getting organized in the new year. I want to thank her for sharing her valuable musings and resources in this week’s post!

See those boxes? They are my castoffs ready to ship for free to GIVEBACKBOX.COM. I will tell you more about that charity later because now I want to tell you about how I spent the month of January organizing my home and why it brings me joy.

Every January, for the past three years, I participate in Peter Walsh’s 31 Days of Organization Challenge on Facebook. I will go out on a limb and call Peter the guru of organization (next to Jocelyn Kenner, of course!) He has written such books as “How to Organize Just About Everything” and “Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?” As part of the challenge, Peter puts up a daily organizing task on Facebook. It could be “organize that utility drawer in your kitchen” or “go through your t-shirts and give away the bottom 1/3 of your pile which you never wear”. The beauty of each challenge is that it doesn’t take a lot of time to do, usually only 10-30 minutes. The “deeds” are useful (albeit sometimes painful, as in the “go through your cookbooks” challenge), and someone else is telling you what to do and how to do it (staving off those “deer in the headlights” moments). The payoff is immense.

Here’s what I accomplished during the 30-day challenge:

  • Completely reorganized my kitchen, resulting in extra cabinet, drawer and pantry space
  • Culled and organized my sock, underwear and t-shirt drawers (after polling some friends to learn that yes indeed, people actually do fold their underwear)
  • Emptied an entire bedroom closet
  • Threw out all the pens & pencils that didn’t work
  • Cleaned out two medicine cabinets and all the other bathroom storage, getting rid of bags & bags of expired or no longer used products. I actually have empty shelf space now!
  • Took all those recipes on loose pieces of paper that I have collected and put them into plastic sleeves (protects them from splatters while cooking). Then I stored them in categorized, labeled 3-ring binders. Ahhh…
  • Donated unworn winter coats to a charity that collects them as a part of a national initiative. Now my coat closet has room for my guests’ coats!
  • Collected and donated all the window treatments, linens, duvet covers and towels that I no longer use. The result was an entire empty shelf.  Call me crazy, but looking at that empty shelf in the linen closet makes me smile!
  • Contacted someone dear to me that I had lost touch with as part of the challenge to rid myself of “emotional clutter”.

 

In the process of this 30-day challenge, I learned a lot about myself. The challenge, while seemingly daunting, is something I look forward to because first and foremost, I like to be challenged, and second, I have found that looking at my newly created neat and empty spaces gives me great joy. It helped me to put these daily tasks into my schedule and to make them a priority. I also discovered my mantra which was, “Would I pay movers to move this?” Usually, the answer was no. Not that I’m moving anytime soon, but I am saving money.

Back to my boxes of donations that are shipping for free, you can use any empty cardboard box (Amazon shipping boxes are great) and fill it with donated items. Then go to GIVEBACKBOX.COM to print out your free shipping label.

My other favorite donation places include:

  • Thred Up : Sort of like an online consignment shop where I sent my designer clothes castoffs, belts and handbags. I receive a credit that I can either use on the site or cash out.
  • Local charities such as Goodwill and The Golden Shoestring in Larchmont (the thrift store of the local Junior League), and the Green Drop center in North White Plains
  • Neighbor to Neighbor in Greenwich collects winter coats and other household items and food
  • My local YWCA runs a women’s shelter and they accept items to help women-in-need rebuild a household
  • Westchester County has a Household Materials Recovery Center that is a depot for expired meds, used batteries and documents that need shredding
  • Facebook has various local “tag sale” pages which I have found to be a quick way to get rid of larger items (such as furniture). Price it right and it will fly!
  • Many communities have a recycling center. White Plains has the “Take it or Leave it Shed” which is open from April – November. Opening day is marked on my calendar!
  • I love to read and Paperback Swap is a favorite resource of mine. I list my old books and get new used ones, and the only cost is a small annual fee and the cost of shipping. Sometimes my kids can get books they need for school here, and I maintain a wish list so that if the book gets listed, it automatically gets mailed to me. I also drop off, from time to time, larger donations (boxes) of books to the Friends of Byram Library

I am here to confirm that the rewards of taking part in the challenge and decluttering my home have been plentiful. I put into practice a lot of the skills I learned from Jocelyn, such as using a timer, labeling containers, always having a donation box around, and thinking through my “prime real estate” (i.e., countertop space). My home is neater, there’s more space, and I found several things for which I have been looking for quite some time!