Time is usually the biggest factor limiting our ability to declutter, but one of the silver linings of the COVID-19 epidemic is that we finally have time to do big projects. So tackle the garage, the basement or overflowing closets.

The steps to decluttering and then organizing are the same for large projects and small. First, look at your project and envision an end result. Often this will be something along the lines of, "I want everything to have a place and everything to be in that place." Keep this result in mind as you dig into your project. With snacks and drinks handy, begin the process. If you don't know where to start, close your eyes and point. Anywhere you begin is the perfect place.

The goal now is to clear out the space, taking out each item and evaluating it. Is it something to part with? Put it in a donation box. Is it trash or recycling? Gather the appropriate bins for these items. If it is something that belongs in the space you are clearing, put it to the side. Group like things together. For instance, if you are clearing out the garage, piles might be sorted into holiday decorations, camping or sports gear, or general storage. Gathering like things together provides a good opportunity to see how much of any one item has collected over the years. It may be surprising to find seven umbrellas in your closet, but this process makes it easier to donate the surplus.

An "I don't know" box can be useful, as getting bogged down in decision-making can be overwhelming, and that can quickly lead to fatigue. A popular reason to keep something is the thought that it might be needed someday. But think of the likelihood of it being found and put to use, versus the ease of purchasing it from a store exactly when you need it. When excess is removed from a storage area, it is easier to find and use what is being stored for a purpose.

After the space has been cleared, clean it. Then look at your space. Do you need shelving, clear bins, or labeling? If so, get exactly what you need and no more. When returning items to the place where they belong, keep like items together. If you have cleaned out a closet filled to the brim, do not refill it to the brim. Discard as much as possible so that your remaining storage is easily accessible.

Once items have been reset to a proper place, donate unwanted items. Sometimes these are kept in hopes of selling them, but rarely does this pay out. It is much easier for most people to donate their unwanted goods and keep that extra space available for further decluttering. The "I don't know" box can be put aside and tackled at a later date. It is often after much success in decluttering that this category can be tackled with ease.

Many people are emotionally attached to items or feel obligated to keep things they were given. The KonMari method, developed by Japanese organizer and author Marie Kondo, encourages people to keep what evokes joy. Gifts of obligation rarely evoke these feelings. No one should feel obligated to keep something. If holding on to the memory is important, a picture can be taken of the item to remember it by. Often what has helped my clients is imagining someone in a thrift store being ecstatic at finding their donated item.

After a space has been decluttered and organized, every item should have a place it belongs. The last task is to develop habits that keep a space uncluttered. This involves resetting the environment on a daily or weekly basis. It does not take much time to keep a space tidy, if everything has a place and is returned to its place. The time saved by easily finding everything more than makes up for time spent on housekeeping. The peace of mind is priceless.

Donate your declutter

As long as the governor’s stay-at-home order is in effect, thrift stores will remain closed. However, some places are still accepting donations.

BLH Computers
1832 Stevenson Dr., 217-585-1580
Check blhcomputers.com for a complete list of electronics accepted for recycling. Due to COVID-19 concerns, equipment can only be unloaded by the person dropping it off.

Habitat for Humanity ReStore
2744 S. Sixth St., 217-523-2710
Donations accepted daily from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. and 2-4 p.m. at the loading dock. No donation pickups are being scheduled right now. However, the ReStore is contracted through the City of Springfield to pick up large items for disposal and this continues. Schedule a pickup by calling or going to habitatsangamon.com and clicking on the ReStore tab.

Salvation Army
Accepting donations via drop boxes in the parking lot at 229 N. 11th St. and behind the building at 1762 Wabash Ave.

Springfield Families Helping Families Facebook.
Ten percent of Springfield’s population has joined this Facebook group, where requests are made daily for needed items. While this may not clear out your entire donation pile, you can be assured that your items will be appreciated.

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