Donations – Where do I begin?

Hey Collectors!

To ensure success, I have broken down where to begin into many different steps. I have been posting a blog series on Where Do I Begin? Don’t forget to check out the other blogs or if you prefer to listen, check out my podcast:

Today we are going to talk about donations. We are half way through the Where Do I Begin? series. Congratulations for making it this far!

I learned a game from the Institute for Challenging Disorganization. I don’t remember the exact words, but I am going to call it Friend, Acquaintance and Stranger. Our bodies have a response when we see each of these people. We also may have the same response with our stuff.

declutter concept (keep, recycle, trash, sell, donate – handwriting on color sticky notes against black paper background

If you see a friend after long time away, you are probably feeling ecstatic. Maybe you have thought about her and what she has been up to. Your whole body reacts: you smile, feel warm, your eyes brighten, and you embrace. You are responding both mentally and physically. You might see items that you cherish as a good friend.

We all have acquaintances such as neighbors and co-workers. Some we don’t really like that much. We see them in the hallway, offer a fake smile, a little wave, avoid eye contact, and don’t want to talk. You have no plans to get together any time soon outside of where know each other. Don’t hate, it’s kind of like meh, whatever.

Acquaintance items around your home are items you don’t care about, a gift you didn’t really like, duplicates, impulsive purchases items that no longer fit, and that don’t serve you. Many are just there collecting dust. This stuff probably got stuck because you are not sure about how you fee about them. This is normal. Try and listen to your body.

Strangers. We were taught never talk to strangers. The stranger items include things you can’t recall acquiring. You aren’t sure how it ended up in your possessions. Or things you can’t stand that make your feel ugly, don’t work or are broken. These are strangers. Your body tends to react to these items. These should be donated or tossed.

Tune in to your body using this game to see how you feel about items. Tune into your body intuition to decide what keep or donate. Your mind can get cluttered during this process and using your body is a great way to help you decide.

Pick up an item. Ask is it a friend, acquaintance or stranger? How does it feel? Practice makes perfect when learning how to do this. This isn’t the only method to use, but try and incorporate when making decisions.

How to Prepare Your Stuff to Donate

Most of my clients hate to wash, repair or find instructions for items they want to donate. I am here to tell you that your stuff can be donated AS IS. Donation centers will wash your items before it goes to facility.

If you are someone who is OCD what I about to tell you might make you cringe. You might not be able to do this, but I really want to try. You do NOT need to neatly fold donations. Take a deep breath. Now you are facing your perfectionism.

I go to donations center daily. I watch people shake out, check for damage before they throw stuff into a bin for bulk washing. All those hours you spent washing and folding are wasted. What else could you have accomplished in that time? Especially if you are a hoarder or have extreme clutter, you are wasting valuable decluttering time.

You might be concerned donation people think you are inconsiderate, or a slob or an awful person. WRONG! The employees are constantly processing stuff and don’t have time to talk about you. I have seen them process thousands of unfolded dirty donations. I have NEVER heard anyone say anything but THANK YOU. They give me my receipt and move on to the rest of their day. If it smelled funky, they never said anything or were disrespectful. They are not going to publicly shame you. If you are concerned your name or address is on the donation slip do you really believe they are going to come find you? Write a newspaper article about you? No. Your fear is not realistic. Many times you can also get a blank receipt to fill out.

Dealing with Perfectionism

Try your best not to fold and wash donated clothes. Perfectionism is getting in the way. Most of my clients are perfectionists. Don’t let your perfectionism or fear of what people think get in the way of efficiency and making steady decluttering progress.

What if you need to mend or fix an item you want to donate? If it is really a quick fix and you know what you are doing, I would say go for it. If it has been sitting around broken in your house for you fix and your house is a disaster, I invite you to let it go.

Why do you feel wasteful or guilty for throwing out a broken item? Be realistic. How long has it been broken? How long will it take to fix? Do you have the right supplies? Is it a hot ticket item and does the donation center desires it? Or is it a mediocre item that might be antiquated or not worth more than a dollar. Think about your ultimate vision. Will fixing something help get you there quickly or hold you back?

No instructions. You know they are somewhere so you have been hanging onto an item until you find them. Most instructions for games, toys, and appliances are now online. I know the perfectionist in you wants everything perfectly together. Remember, the goal is to declutter, so donate without the instructions. These items are taking up space in your home that you need right now. According to Murphy’s Law, you will always find the instructions after you donate. Recycle them when you find them. Don’t call the donation center. Don’t feel guilty or obsess. If you spend time stressing, fixing, and washing your donations, you are putting less energy into your home. Focus your energy on the items you are keeping. Try not to put more energy into donations than you do for you or your home.

I am teaching you how to take control and not be afraid. You are facing yourself and those uncomfortable, and sometimes irrational, beliefs.

What items will the donation center not take? Worn out shoes is a good example. I tell clients, if you would go into the center and not wear the

item today, most likely someone else won’t either. Don’t feel guilty. They don’t have absorbed the cost of something they cannot sell. Most donation centers don’t mend items, so if you have a rip or tear, I invite you to let it go. Don’t make the charity pay the garbage fee. If you have had a shirt for 30 years and it is not ripped or torn, send that to the donation center for people who need it.

When you release a few bags or boxes from your home you can begin to reclaim your space. Where should you take your stuff? Goodwill or Salvation Army do bulk pick up. Do your research and see if bulk pick up is an option.

Using your small bag, load your car and drop off your donations. Try and choose ONE center. You might want each item to go to the perfect place. The decluttering process is about YOU, not donation center. Get rid of all stuff in one trip. Save your time and energy to continue clearing clutter.

Lots of my clients don’t like Goodwill or larger outlets because they feel they are a for profit business. If you don’t like larger donation centers, find a place close by that resonates with you. Disabled kids, cancer, battered women’s shelter; wherever would make you feel good when dropping off.

My point is: don’t make a career out of your donations! Your time and energy is needed in your home and getting your home back together. Let go of that perfectionism so you can move at a good pace. Promise me you will try, going out of comfort zone, especially if you are OCD. These simple steps will save you lots of time.

Next month, we start the second half of the series, What Now? I will talk about important items in the next blog.

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to deciding to donate? What has helped you? Share your comments below.

Deciding whether to keep or donate items is only part of the process in decluttering and getting organized. Collector Care can help! Call Collector Care at 925.548.7750 or email to

schedule your free 30-minute consultation to discuss how we can help you with decluttering, hoarding, extreme clutter and getting organized.

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Aromatherapy + Organizing


Hey Collectors!

If you have been following me for a while, you know that I love aromatherapy. I use it to clean as well as uplift me when I am feeling down. I use it when working with clients as well as in my home with my family. Aromatherapy has helped me physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

You may have heard people talk about aromatherapy and essential oils and not understand what is aromatherapy.

Aromatherapy is the practice of using the natural oils extracted from flowers, bark, stems, leaves, roots or other parts of a plant to enhance psychological and physical well-being.

The inhaled aroma from these “essential” oils is widely believed to stimulate brain function. Essential oils can also be absorbed through the skin, where they travel through the bloodstream and can promote whole-body healing.1

There are lots of different essential oils available as well as a variety of products.

Why would you want to use aromatherapy? There are numerous benefits, including:

* reduce anxiety * ease depression

* boost energy levels * speed up the healing process * eliminate headaches

* boost cognitive performance * induce sleep

* strengthen the immune system

* reduce pain * improve digestion and

* increase circulation. 2

I also use aromatherapy for cleaning. Adding a drop of lavender to my laundry or lemon essential oil to my cleaning can make a huge difference. When I feel like I need to clear my mind, I take a whiff of peppermint. Really, the possibilities are endless!

aromatherapy and organizing

Do you use essential oils? How? Do you have a favorite scent? Share in the comments below.

Because I believe so strongly in the power of aromatherapy and essential oils, I have created a collection. Each 10 mL essential oil blend is designed with a different purpose and supports your natural process of decluttering, healing and renewal. The scents and aromas bring you a sense of strength and healing while supporting you on your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual journey. You can view the collection here:

Are you looking to use essential oils or aromatherapy? Have you wondered how it can help your body, mind or spirit? Collector Care can help you get organized and be environmentally friendly while doing it!

Call Collector Care at 925.548.7750 or email to schedule your free 30-minute consultation and learn about how we can help you use aromatherapy in your home or life.

References: 1: 2:

Keep Vs. Donate

Hey Collectors!

To ensure success, I have broken down where to begin into many different steps. I have been posting a blog series on Where to Begin. Don’t forget to check out the other blogs or if you prefer to listen, check out my podcast:

Today we are going to talk about KEEP vs. DONATE. How do you decide this?

We are going to pick up from last month’s blog. Be at your sorting station, with your bags or boxes labeled: Keep, Donate, Important and Trash. Have your “to go through” (TGT) box to tackle. Last month we talked about staring with easy items to go through. If you have discarded trash and recycled in the area you are working, you are now ready to begin with your TGT box.

If it is a perfectly good item, you might be confused on whether you should keep or donate it. You might like everything in your TGT box. Know you can lean how to make decisions on your items. Some might be more challenging than others. You might have some new items. You may know you have duplicates. You may be excited to see these items again. The task might be daunting. It is okay if items are all mixed together or all the same category. Do not over think; keep moving forward and go through all your items in the TGT box one by one.

You will most likely have the urge to get up and put things away. Do not do this! This will slow down and/or sabotage your process. If an item feels urgent, put in your important bag to deal with right after the session.

Sit at your sorting station and focus on your TGT box. If you have ADD or ADHD this is important! Don’t put things away because you might not come back as other things distract you. Consider writing a note to remind you to stay put.

If you have hoarding or extreme clutter, you may not have storage so it is important for you to make decisions. Don’t obsess over miscellaneous items. Remember, OHIO (Only Handle It Once) doesn’t work for those with extreme clutter or hoarders. I believe it is okay to have a second or third pass on items. Do your best to try and not get hung up on your items.

I give myself 30 seconds and my clients a minute. If I can’t decide, I put in my keep bag with the plan on revisiting later. Try to weed out what you can let go of. Here are some more tips:

I know somebody that could use that! Put the item aside and really think about this. If you have extreme clutter, perhaps you have a friend you have been meaning to give stuff to. Do they really want? If you called them right now, would they truly be excited about the item? Consider it if takes a lot of effort to get to the person. Do you need to make a trip to the post office and mail? Bring over to their home? Your friend might not want the items because they might not have same sentiment as you do. Trust your friend will survive without the items and let them go. Put the item in your donate bag. Don’t get caught up in helping others; the priority right now is helping you!

What if I need it someday? Think about how often you have actually used the item. When was last time you used? Is there a duplicate? How easy would it be to get another one? If you did need it, would you get that exact item or would you choose something else? Remind yourself of your vision of living a clutter free life. Does your item help you realize that vision?

Hold, touch, smell, and look at each individual item. As you do this, ask yourself: do you truly need it? Do you have others just like it? Is it something you actually use? Is it in good enough condition to use? Would someone with much less appreciate it more? There are many people in need who truly would use and get value from your stuff.

If you decide to keep, put it in your keep bag. If you believe someone else could get better use, place in your donate bag.

If it is not in good condition, put in the trash or recycle. I see a lot of garbage being donated to charities. If you have a puzzle with missing pieces, do you think a child would appreciate a puzzle with missing piece? If the item is ripped, torn or stained, throw it out. It is not fair to donate unusable items. The non-profits have to absorb the cost of the landfill fee.

Before moving to another area, go through all items in your TGT box. Once the box is empty, you will be left with keep and donate. If you put anything in your important bag, deal with it immediately.

What about items you aren’t sure about? Maybe you have a blouse you are not sure about because you don’t know how many blouses you have and want time to think about it. If you are spending a lot of time thinking about it, put it in your keep bag. Don’t allow it to slow you down.

Let me reiterate: it is okay to have second or third pass of things. You might decide later you don’t want items in your keep bag. Deal with the uncomfortable feeling of being less than perfect. Now, this isn’t a hall pass; try your best to make a decision to keep or donate. Always ask if someone with less could use the item more. Imagine your home when the decluttering is done. Is that item included in your vision?

Label your keep container with what room it came from and date. Don’t sort and put items away from your keep bag. You might not have space if you have extreme clutter. The goal is to learn how to go through items by yourself and what questions to ask yourself, not to have your home instantly organized. This is a long process. It took a long time and effort to clutter your home and it will take time and effort to declutter.

Congratulate yourself on a job well done and reward yourself! You just sorted a box all by yourself! Celebrate your work by watching a movie, having some ice cream. Acknowledge your hard work and progress and never give up!

Take your donations to your staging area. If the bag is full, take the trash and recycling out if you can physically do it. Have your sorting station clear for the next time you declutter. I like to wipe down my station. Keep it clear as it is easy to clutter again. Make a rule that you are not going to clutter it again.

We will talk about donations in the next blog in this series.

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to deciding to keep vs. donate? What has helped you? Share your comments below.

Deciding whether to keep or donate items is only part of the process in decluttering and getting organized. Collector Care can help! Call Collector Care at 925.548.7750 or email to schedule your free 30-minute consultation to discuss how we can help you with decluttering, hoarding, extreme clutter and getting organized.

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