Some people think of these indoorsy months as a time for cocooning. That sounds lovely. But if you’re surrounded by clutter and your closets are overflowing, you may have noticed that being around too much stuff is not restorative, it’s anxiety-provoking.
You may think it’s early for spring cleaning, but if you need to get organized, there are good reasons to take action now. First, because decluttering chases away winter blues. Also, Outer Cape swap shops and thrift stores have limited capacity. You’ll need to bring your donations in reasonable quantities, and the process can take some time.
The most difficult part of decluttering is deciding what to keep and what to move along to its next destination. I recommend that you condition your decision-making muscles on easier items first: garage stuff, clothes, books, and media. Save the emotional minefields like photos, keepsakes, and family heirlooms for last. As you move through the room you are working in, separate items into three piles: keep, toss, or donate. If there are items you are having trouble deciding on, ask yourself: Do I need it? Do I use it? Do I love it? If the answers are no, no, and no, let it go.
It is helpful to designate things you wish to donate as A List and B List. A List items are in very good condition and are more valuable or current. These can go to nonprofit thrift stores or libraries, enabling you to get a tax deduction if you itemize. Popular thrift stores are Ruthie’s Boutique and the United Methodist Church Thrift Shop in Provincetown; the A.I.M. Thrift Shop in Wellfleet; and the Friends of the Eastham C.O.A. Thrift Shop. All of them donate proceeds from sales to community services.
Your B List items are in good condition but less valuable or current and may be left at the swap shop at your local transfer station. Every town transfer station also has a bin for recycling clothes or textiles. The swap shop hours: Provincetown, Tues. to Sat., 8 a.m. to noon; Truro, Sat.-Sun., 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Wellfleet, Tues., Sat., Sun., 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Eastham, Weds., Sat., Sun., 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
No matter what the item or where you are taking it, don’t donate anything dirty, moldy, torn, broken, incomplete, or obsolete. Some things are simply at the end of their useful life. If you have a lot of items and are overwhelmed by unloading them, there are local haulers who will help you cart things off. Look for one that is committed to recycling whatever can be recycled.
The most challenging items are large furniture and appliances. For items in good condition, you can arrange free pickup from Habitat ReStore or the Salvation Army, but be prepared to wait a few weeks. They won’t take sofa beds, laminate furniture, or TV armoires, and they also have the right to refuse an item at pickup. You can also try your luck at giving these items away by posting on social media swap pages or placing a classified ad.
Getting started with decluttering is difficult. But most people end up feeling energized by clearing things away. You are creating the physical and psychic space for the next adventure of your life. Start now, and you’ll be ready for spring.
Julie Brooks is a professional organizer and owner of Peaceful Place Home Organizers in Brewster.