I love stuff. Ever since I was little I’ve had a fascination with collecting things and growing a curated collection of possessions. I find it really difficult to get rid of things. Instead of get rid of things or donating them, I’d rather just hide it all under my bed for a rainy day. This is why I still have binders full of notes from high school friends (way back when cell phones were forbidden to have on school grounds). This is why I still have a dresser full of tops from freshman year of college and jewelry that I wore to my junior prom. I blame my mother (love you!). She’s also a big fan of stuff and I definitely followed in her hoarding footsteps. Fun fact: She still has my crib. Yes, the one from when I was a baby. I’m not joking. Of course every time I go home to my parents’ house I find myself trying to convince her to get rid of certain things, like the hypocrite I am.
My collection of personal belongings is my pride and joy, but it’s been terribly suffocating in recent months. Since moving into a tiny, one bedroom apartment with my boyfriend a year and half ago, I’ve started to realize that all of my stuff is really starting to pile up and cramp our style. It’s gotten so bad that sometimes I can’t shut the closet doors completely. Yea, it’s that bad. That’s why I decided that 2016 is going to be the year of decluttering. I don’t think I could ever go full minimalistic, but I think allowing myself 12 months to shed myself of items I’ve purchased over the last six years should do the trick.
I really started to get motivated about this decluttering project after reading reviews of the New York Times best-seller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I started purging a few areas of my space over the month of January, and it feels so good. I wanted to share some of the tips and tricks I’ve been using to conquer my mountain of stuff, so I’ve teamed up with Coinstar Exchange to do just that. Let’s get started!
- Wallet: After the holidays, my wallet was just about as stuffed as I was after Christmas Eve dinner. From crumpled receipts and ridiculous amounts of pennies, to shopping lists and unused gift cards, it was time to cleanse my wallet of the leftovers. Getting rid of the loose change and unwanted receipts was easy. Next, I took a good hard look at my cards. I removed business cards that I didn’t immediately need and added them into my storage area on my desk. As for my gift cards and loyalty cards, there were definitely a few that I just didn’t see myself using this year. I tossed the loyalty cards and took my gift cards to the Coinstar Exchange kiosk at my local grocery store. Coinstar Exchange kiosks allow you to trade in your unwanted gift cards for cash, right on the spot. The kiosks accept gift cards from over 150 well-known retailers and restaurants, and are located in your local grocery stores. (The closet one to the Back Bay area is right in the Stop & Shop in Mission Hill!) The bright yellow kiosk was easy to spot as I walked into the grocery store. The touch screen is easy to use and all you have to do is scan your gift card, verify your identity and then accept the amount that your gift card sells for. I sold a $25 gift card and received $15.50, which allowed me to treat myself to Starbucks the rest of the week! A way better deal than just letting the card sit in my wallet, am I right? So if you had a relative go off list for the holidays and get you a gift card to a store you’ve never stepped foot in, you can sell that bad boy and get the cash you need to go shop at a store that you actually like. Winner, winner!
- Phone: There’s nothing more satisfying than deleting apps off your phone. I have a ton of folders on my phone so sometimes I don’t easily see what I’ve downloaded over the last several months. I typically do a purge every quarter and delete anything that I haven’t opened in the since the last quarter. Here’s a fun strategy for determining which apps you do and don’t use. And speaking of folders, I highly recommend creating some on your phone if you download apps like it’s your job. I group mine by similar function. For instance, I have a photography folder that includes Instagram, VSCO, Photos, etc. Folders help clean up your screen to make way for a pretty wallpaper, too.
- Purse: Similar to my wallet, my purse I was using on the reg had a bunch of crap sitting at the bottom of it that I’d just been ignoring for the past few months. With the motivation of a troublemaking child, I flipped my bag upside down and watched everything descend onto my rug in a waterfall-like fashion. I had a lot of unnecessary things in there such as five pens, three uneaten Special K bars, one empty Ziploc bag, four different types of lip balm, a pair of earrings that I thought I lost (score!), and the list goes on and on. I decided to compartmentalize my bag since it only has two small pockets for small items such as lip balm or my phone. I grabbed a few unused makeup bags from my vanity and started grouping stuff together. Makeup and sunglasses in one, snacks in another and so on. Doing so has allowed me to quickly and easily find stuff in my bag without having to dig around blindly.
- Closet: My closet is by far the most difficult area of my apartment to purge. I obviously love clothes and will make up any and all excuses to keep something around rather than toss it. My closet is the reason project declutter will probably take a year to complete, but that’s ok. Giving myself time to really determine what I am and am not wearing will hopefully make the process easier. How am I doing that you ask? Pretty simple and you might already know this trick. It’s all in the hangers. I’ve reorganized all of my hangers so that they’re hanging backwards with the open end facing me. When I wear something, I’ll hang it back up the regular way, with the open end facing away. In six months I’ll be able to see which hangers haven’t been taken off the rack and hopefully knock some sense into me that I should let the pieces go. Stay tuned.
- Dresser/Vanity: I’m using a similar strategy with my jewelry and accessories, too. I’ve organized my necklaces, bracelets and rings in specific spots on my jewelry stands and took pictures of the setup. In six months I’m going to compare the photo to my current situation and be able to see what has or hasn’t been touch. In this process I was also able to identify a few pieces that were either broken or knew I hadn’t worn in a long time because when I found them I previously thought that I had gotten rid of them (lolz).
- Under the bed: The space under my bed is 110% utilized to store out-of-season clothing and a bunch of other miscellaneous items, so it’s prime real estate. Recently, I unearthed everything that was under my bed to figure out if it really belonged down there. I was able to edit out a few items, but for the most part I wanted to keep everything as is, but my containers were so crammed with stuff that I couldn’t even get the lids back on. So I ordered some vacuum seal storage bags and they did absolute wonders. I have so much more space in my containers now that the bags have compressed my clothes into air tight packages. I highly recommend these for storage and I know they’ll come in handy when I travel, too!
- Makeup drawer/medicine cabinet: We’re all guilty of hoarding makeup products. I’ve definitely been one to keep that 50 shade eye shadow palette around simply because it feels wrong to throw it out. Unfortunately, cosmetics and other personal care items don’t last forever. It’s easy to forget that these lotions, creams and powders are all being absorbed into our skin and body. Using expired products can lead to not-so-pretty situations like rashes, inflammation, or even infections. I used this guide to go through my makeup drawer, my skincare products and hair care items. I ended up tossing a lot of stuff. I was pretty grossed out when I realized loofahs “expire” after three months. I pretty much launched that thing into my laundry basket when I found out. For topical creams like acne medication or sunscreen, these typically have actually expiration dates on them, so be sure to check the containers before using, especially if the item has been sitting on the shelf for a while.
- Under the sink cabinet: This area of the bathroom never gets a lot of love, but it stores a lot of essentials. At one point I did organize everything but I wasn’t very good about maintaining it. I decided to pick up a few clear storage baskets to group items together. I wanted the baskets to be transparent so I can see everything in one glance, rather than hide it all away in a box. Whatever didn’t fit in the baskets either found a new home or got the boot. I think the baskets will help me keep everything in shape because there’s not much space left to just throw something in there without it looking out of place. Fingers crossed I can keep it up.
The next phase of my decluttering project will be the living room, common area closet and the kitchen. I’ll keep you posted on those areas. Until then, I’d love to hear what you guys think of my process so far.
What are you favorite tricks for decluttering and organization ideas?
This post was sponsored by Coinstar Exchange. All text and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep Style Tab’s lights on!