Create an Exit Strategy for the Clutter

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No matter how long you’ve been on this de-cluttering and simplifying journey the hardest part is keeping the clutter from coming back!

Today I am sharing a strategy that will help simplify things no matter if you are just getting started or if you have been de-cluttering for a while.

When I go out on consults some of my clients say “I feel like I just keep shuffling things around”.

Your house should flow like a river (I learned this metaphor from a very cool dad when I first started my organization business).

There should be a place for everything and everything in its place and this includes a system and strategy for items that need to leave your home.

When you have things in places where they don’t belong, they become a clutter magnet that doesn’t allow your home to flow properly.

So, when you have random piles of things you want to donate sitting in the middle of the floor, items you need to return to someone sitting on your counters, or dead batteries, light bulbs, and electronics in random drawers; those are the BOULDERS that don’t allow your “river” to flow.

Which leaves your home and daily routines feeling disconnected.

To solve this, you don’t need anything fancy.

First off you need to designate a proper location for this system.

A shelf in your garage would be ideal. If you don’t have a garage designate a closet for all the items that need to leave your home.

These are the categories you should include:

(1) Donations

A bin, box or blank spot on a shelf for items LABELED “donate”.

This way when you are tidying and you see clothes that don’t fit you, decor that is not your style, items you no longer love, etc, they immediately have a place where they need to go.

Once your donate boxes are full schedule a donation pickup or load them in your car and take them away to a donation center.

(2) Selling

Designate a separate bin or box for items you want to sell and label it “selling”.

There’s a couple of steps to this process.

First off decide if this is an option for you. Selling is more often than not, not worth the time and energy it takes to measure, take proper pictures, answer buyers questions.

But if you’d like to put a little effort into selling an item so that you can add to your vacation fund, follow these steps!

  1. Take a quick picture and post it on your favorite app or online selling website
  2. Put it into your bin to hold until a buyer arranges pickup.
  3. This last step is very important. Give these items a limit to the time you will hold them. I personally give items two weeks. If they haven’t sold, it may be that the item is not priced correctly. I consider dropping the price by 1/4. But again I go back to the first question; how much is my time worth? If this item will yield less than (ex. $50) then it’s not worth my time and I just donate it and take the tax credit.

I have learned over the years that it drains me of energy to be adamant about trying to sell something that is simply not getting interest.

It’s best to let it go and save your energy to push through on your goals.

The main goal is for it to leave my house but if I can add to my vacation fund, that’s a bonus.

It feels good to reclaim my space and bless someone else with that item when I shift my mindset.

(3) Household Hazardous Waste and E-waste

Designate a box for batteries, light bulbs, and small electronics.

Also label accordingly.

Having a dedicated spot for these items will also be your cue later when you see the box full, to go through the next H.H.W roundup in your area.

You may even be able to sign up for notifications through your county.

If you are in LA county, click here to get notifications when your next H.H.W roundup occurs.

(4) Returns

Returns can also be a part of this exit plan in your closet or garage or you may choose to put these items near your outgoing mail station.

However, having a returns section in your exit strategy to revisit the closet more often and you can keep an eye on your boundaries and keep your river flowing.

(5) Small Shipping Station

Sometimes you want to ship items out, either returning things to Amazon or shipping a gift to a loved one, which requires you to have a few boxes on hand.

So if you want to keep a few small boxes on hand (flatten them so they don’t take up a lot of space) just set up a station for them to hang-out.

Add your scale, scissors, tape, a sharpie, and a pen and you’re ready to go.

This strategy has seriously simplified my life.

This EXIT strategy will help you keep things FLOWING OUT, to get a little done every day without much effort and you will never be overwhelmed by clutter again.

Is there something you have set up in your home, or a routine that has helped you manage the clutter in your home?

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  1. I love the idea of a shipping station. I often find that it is the stuff that needs to be sent to a friend or family member that takes the longest to move out. Wrapping packages isn’t necessarily fun, but if all of the supplies are right there, that makes it easier!

    • This is a very common scenario I have run into with my clients. I am so glad it was helpful to you as well. Gotta get those gifts out on time, especially when they are for a specific occasion, and having all the supplies on hand definitely helps get this task done. 🙂

      Thanks for visiting, Seana!

  2. I’ve been trying to implement a system like that for the longest time! Unfortunately, we have a 3 story house, so our problem is getting the “river” to flow down those stairs!

  3. It is so much easier to bring stuff in than to get it out. We have good intentions, but often don’t follow through. The selling can be especially tricky. I always tell clients, “Selling = Work.” Whether you do it yourself or pay someone else, expect it to take some time and effort. It is helpful to acknowledge this in advance because you may decide the work isn’t worth the payoff, making it easier to donate it and take the deduction.

  4. I really like your title. There is a lot of buzz about exit strategies for jobs, owning companies, committee membership etc. I think it is a great way to think about clutter.

  5. I love the analogy of the boulder equalling clutter. And if the boulders are there, the river won’t flow. What great zones you’ve suggested for getting those boulders out of the way. Nice!

    • Clutter really can be such a boulder in people’s lives, especially when they try to get rid of the clutter – I’m glad you liked the analogy!

      Thanks for visiting!

  6. Great post! I love that 2 week timeline when selling an item. I hate when items are left on the floor when they don’t sell. So, I remind my husband (who is the seller in our family) to get rid of it or adjust the price.

    • It’s always great to have a timeline when getting rid of items in your home, I find it gives you more incentive to do something about the items! Sounds like you’ve got a great system going, too.

      Thanks for visiting!

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