A major spring clean has become almost unavoidable in 2020, however, since charities have stopped accepting donations and giving away second-hand items can feel questionable during this time, we turned to an expert for advice on decluttering and organizing during isolation. As one of only a handful of Certified Professional Organizers in Canada, Jane Veldhoven is not only an expert with over 17 years of experience, but she is the host of the popular television show, The Big Downsize – which launches its second season today on VisionTV across Canada.
“Decluttering and organizing can give you a sense of control especially when everything else feels out of control,” says Jane, “My hope is that as we come out the other side of this pandemic we will all own less and enjoy life more. Next time you go to buy something please think about why you are buying it, where it was manufactured and how far it had to travel to get to you, and how you will dispose of it when you no longer want or need it. There is freedom in living with less, I promise!”
Here are 7 tips from Jane Veldhoven to help busy individuals or families downsize their stuff right now:
Organizing pro Jane Veldhoven on set of The Big Downsize
1. Pick the area that bothers you the most.
As you look at all of the areas in your home, choose a place that you look at every single day and think to yourself, “This is driving me crazy! I have to be more organized.” If you can enjoy the fruits of your labour every day you will be more likely to continue on your downsizing journey.
2. Begin with the end in mind.
You will struggle to successfully accomplish your goal of organizing a room or area in your home if you can’t see the finished product before you begin. That’s what keeps me going with every single client I work with. I begin with the end in mind and a clear vision of what the space will look and feel like and how much better things will be when it is complete.
3. Start small.
Because most people would rather do pretty much anything but decluttering and organizing, it is important to have regular success during the process. So, choose a manageable area that can be completed in the time you have available. That might be one bookshelf or one drawer. Take everything out, sort it into categories, evaluate how much or how many of each thing you need, place the items you are parting with in a box or bag, throw broken items in the garbage and return what’s left to it’s home. Be sure to “complete” the job by disposing of the garbage and putting the donations in a location with other items that are leaving your home.
4. Set up a donation zone.
During this period of isolation, you may need to set up a “green zone” for items that can go if charities near you are not open. Label the bin or bag as “donate” and place everything in your garage, basement or storage area (if you live in a condo or apartment). I would advise you to check in your local area as some community organizations are actually looking for household items right now. My understanding is that you drop them off and they let them sit for a few days so that any potential virus is no longer present.
5. Designate proper storage.
One of the keys to staying organized is to designate a home for absolutely everything you own. You should choose a location that is large enough to hold everything in a specific category and that is as close as possible to where the items are used. Keep in mind that items that are used most often should be easily accessible. Less used items can be stored up high or in a less convenient location. I can’t stress enough that labelling bins, baskets and boxes is so important. If your children are young, use pictures and words.
6. Get children involved.
This is the perfect time for your children to organize their room. According to child-care experts any child 3 years or older can learn to do basic sorting and organizing. They may need some help from an adult depending on their age and natural ability. It’s always surprising to me how much children will donate if they know there are other children who don’t have toys, books or clothes. Please keep in mind that children play with 20% of the toys they have 80% of the time. So, try putting away toys they may be willing to part with in a bin or box, label the box with the date. If they don’t miss the toys over the next couple of months they can be given away.
7. Begin with items you can get rid of now.
Since it is a difficult time to donate items, consider beginning with purging and organizing paperwork. I know it’s a tedious task which no one enjoys but wouldn’t it make you feel great if you finally got it done? You can either recycle or shred the paper you no longer need to keep. Trust me, you need to keep very little unless you operate a business. If you don’t have a shredder, buy one. That way you can continue to dispose of paperwork on a regular basis so it never builds up again. You might also choose to finally sort and organize your photos. This project gives you a chance to connect with family and friends and remind yourself of all the wonderful experiences you have had over the years. Whether you have digital or printed photos, you don’t need them all, right?
For more information on Jane Veldhoven visit Get-Organized.ca
(Story by Editor-in-Chief, Gracie Carroll; main Image via Nesting with Grace)