Health Advocate Blog

Decluttering for a fresh New Year

The beginning of a new year often prompts people to set new goals as we look to make positive changes or improvements for the future. For many, these goals may have to do with streamlining parts of our lives and tackling the extra “stuff” that seems to endlessly accumulate in our closets, on our counters and throughout our homes. It’s very easy to form a strong attachment to our things – from the shirt we wore to a special event years ago to knickknacks collected on vacations to our favorite frying pan for Sunday breakfasts, these are the items that somehow help define who we are.

However, we also tend to accumulate a lot of “stuff” that doesn’t hold as much value. Think about the box of junk that you’ve moved from house to house but still haven’t unpacked. Or the old, expired spices that somehow seem to multiply in the pack of the pantry. Unfortunately, these items tend to take up a lot of space in our homes, and they can also lead to stress and anxiety.

There are many benefits to decluttering – it can relieve stress, increase productivity, help our homes feel calmer and more spacious, and even potentially bring in some extra cash to help you reach upcoming financial goals.

But where do you begin?

This may be the toughest part of the process – identifying items to possibly get rid of. Try tackling one room at a time and sorting through all the clothing, kitchen gadgets, books and tchotchkes, asking yourself if you really need each piece or if you have used it in the past year. If the answer to either question is no, you’ve found a good candidate. Sort items into three categories:

  • Trash – These are items in poor condition or that have no value to others (clothing beyond repair, chipped or cracked dishes, broken appliances). Determine if you can recycle them in any way, but otherwise, put them out with next week’s garbage.
  • Donate – If you have clothing, shoes, or toys that are in decent condition but may not be stylish or new enough to sell, consider donating them. There are many national and local organizations that are seeking clothing and household item donations. Take a look to see which operate in your community. Some will even pick up items at your home to make the process more convenient, and you can often request a receipt for tax purposes.
  • Sell – These should be items still in great condition that you just no longer need. Perhaps extra mugs taking up space in your cabinet, or a pair of pants you never wore because they don’t fit quite right. Once you’ve gone through all the rooms in your home, bring the “sell” items together. While winter isn’t the ideal time of year for a garage or yard sale depending on where you are, you can take items to a local consignment store or consider selling via an online marketplace or secondhand site. If you do decide to host a yard or garage sale when the weather is right in your area, check out these tips.

By taking a little bit of time each day or week to sort, donate or get rid of items that are no longer of use to you, you may find you can breathe a little easier. And by donating items you no longer have a use for to those in need, you can feel good about decluttering your home this year.