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: http://hoardganize.libsyn.com

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 rachel@collectorcare.com to

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

Image Credit: http://www.myotonic.org/donate