Tag Archives: charity

Perspectives on Letting Go

freedom release letting go

Ahh, attachments to our stuff. It’s really all a mental game. If we were truly able to assess our belongings according to our practical needs, we would probably be living with 10% of what we own.

Why is letting go so hard? How do we manage the psychology of releasing things?

Over the years, we’ve seen people find success with one (or a combination) of these three approaches:

Focus on how you can help yourself

Honor the life you want to live. Have a vision of how you want to be in the world and edit your stuff so you can match that and live your best life now. This is about releasing the past and creating your ideal future. You’re honoring yourself by letting that be your focus.

Focus on how you can help other people

Recognize that your excess is a form of abundance. Release your objects so they can serve their purpose in other people’s lives. Release resentment or other negative emotions that the objects bring up in you and put them out into the world to do positive things for other people.

Feng Shui expert Karen Kingston tells a story of a divorced woman had a pair of large, expensive decorative urns from her divorce settlement. They were beautiful but made her think, with bitterness, of her ex-husband.  She was encouraged to sell them and get a lot of money for them instead of having them foster bitterness and resentment and a constant reminder of a painful relationship.

Focus on how you can help the environment

Bringing in less can aid the environment, but disposing of things in a thoughtful way will help offset the environmental impact of consumption. Some people hesitate to clean out a closet or garage because they don’t want it all to go to landfill. Take advantage of living in the San Francisco Bay Area which is filled with easy options for recycling/reuse and responsible disposal.

Stopwaste.org is a quick way to find what is available near you. There are many places that accept e-waste, expired medicines, CFLs, hazardous waste, styrofoam, packing peanuts and air-packs. Partially used art and office supplies can go to the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse or S.C.R.A.P., building materials and hardware can go to Urban Ore or a Habitat for Humanity ReStore outlet. Plastic children’s toys, if not donate-able, can be recycled with hard plastic at most urban recycling centers. There are also resources for your unneeded medical equipment (wheelchairs, walkers, tubing, etc.)

Freecycle, Craigslist, Nextdoor, and other community neighborhood forums are great places to post usable items for free.  These places allow you to find people who want your cast-offs and will take care of the hauling!

If you don’t want to deal with the public, you can pay for a hauler to come. EcoHaul, 1-800-Got Junk, Lugg are companies that advertise responsible disposal of items the remove from your place.

There is no “right” approach. What is that key that will release you from the obligation to hold on to things you don’t need and really don’t even want? Not sure how to get rid of something? Just ask! As Professional Organizers, we’ve got ideas!

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Filed under Decluttering, organizing, Perspective, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, Strategies

Organize Your Charitable Giving

Giving for Change

It’s end of the year and the charities are out in force with their hands outstretched. Do you succumb to every request?  Or do you give nothing out of overwhelm? Having a strategy will help make this process more satisfying and deserving charities will appreciate you.

Who to give to? 

  • You can sort charities by their mission to focus on the ones that have the most meaning to you or your family.  Charity Navigator and BBB Wise Giving Alliance are two organizations that research charities based on their financial health and accountability. A good benchmark for a worthwhile charity is having at least 75% of their income spent on the the non-profit’s mission.  One of our clients recommends Charity Navigator because they provide a rating for each of the 1,600 charities they research and you can do all your donation tracking and giving through them.
  • Ask your friends who they give to.  It can be a very enlightening conversation.
  • Keep a running list of your favorite charities and donations given. This helps at tax time but the bigger purpose is to avoid confusion about what you’ve given and to whom.“Did I give to ‘Children’s Alliance’ or ‘Children’s Allies’?” A spreadsheet or chart can help you track how much you give year-to-year.

How often to give?

Taking control of how often you give helps avoid feeling pressured every time you get a solicitation in the mail.

  • Rotate donations into monthly bills
  • Recurring automatic donation payments have the convenience of knowing you’re supporting your cause without having to remember to do it. Guaranteed monthly donations also help with an organization’s cash flow.
  • Setting aside a time to donate once a quarter or once a year helps you keep perspective.
  • If you are concerned about tax or estate planning considerations, work with a wealth manager, estate-planning lawyer or certified financial planner on your giving strategy.

Do you give a donation and later find yourself inundated with multiple requests from other charities?

Charities have varying privacy policies. According to Charity Navigator, the more small donations you give, the more likely your name will be sold to other organizations.  Charities are more likely to protect the privacy of their larger donors. The reason is; small donations barely cover the cost of processing them.  They can make more money by selling your name. Once you establish your list of favorite charities, just recycle any solicitations that aren’t on your list.

What to do with all the solicitations that flood the mail?

This depends on how complete your list of charities is. If you feel the need to hang onto solicitations to consider “later” create one box or folder to catch them and sift through them regularly to eliminate duplicates.

Does this make giving any easier? If so, then go out there and share the wealth.

 

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Filed under Decluttering, home organizing, Office, organizing, Paper, Strategies

Make Family Decluttering Easy

Does your family have too much stuff?

Does your family have too much stuff?

 

One of the main causes of clutter is over-accumulation. It’s hard to make organized systems if you’re overwhelmed with the sheer volume of things. A great place to start is by moving useful things that you don’t need or want back out into the world to be used and enjoyed by others.

Do Your Homework

Get familiar with the thrift stores, charitable organizations, and recycling resources in your area. Donation Town is a great online national directory of charities you can search by zip code. Don’t forget about Freecycle or Craigslist as options for listing free items.

Make It Easy

It’s much easier to let go of something if a donation bag is handy. Either have one central, dedicated location for a bag or set up donation bags in multiple rooms – each bedroom, garage, and laundry room. Brown paper grocery bags are easy and work well because they can be moved right into a car. Don’t forget to label the bag so everyone knows what it is for!

 

Label a box, bin or bag to contain unneeded items

Label a box, bin or bag to contain unneeded items

Follow Through!

Having your bags ready and knowing where to take them won’t do you any good if they are always empty. Try and get things into the donation bags as soon as you know you don’t want them. Try on a shirt and it doesn’t fit or you don’t like how you look in it? Into the donation bag! Notice a toy or game the kids never use anymore? Into the donation bag!

If you’re getting resistance from your family around letting things go, offer incentives or make a game of it to inspire them. Check out our post on how to make organizing fun.

Calendar or schedule donation pickup/drop-offs at least quarterly. Don’t forget to collect receipts and claim your charitable tax deduction.

Enjoy The Results

Now you’re well on your way to being able to organize what’s left. It’s much easier to set up homes and systems for active items without having old, inactive items cluttering up the process.

Just get started! Take a bag and walk around your house…could you fill at least 1 bag today?

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Filed under Bedroom, Closets, Decluttering, Garage, General Organizing, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, Strategies

Green De-Cluttering

There are lots of resources for turning trash to treasures!

There are lots of resources for turning trash to treasures!

Do you want to declutter, but dread adding to the waste stream?  It’s easy to be green when you are organizing.  Organizing is all about recycling and reuse.

You’re working on an organizing project and you’re accumulating a pile of items that you no longer want or need.  In can be discouraging to end up with a pile of things that aren’t easy to dispose of…that pile tends to sit around until you “figure out” what to do with them.

The short-term solution for some people is just to put everything you don’t want in the trash.  We must admit, sometimes that option is very enticing.  But with heightened consciousness about the waste stream, just dumping stuff you don’t want can be irresponsible.

Here are types of things you may find in your discard pile and ideas of how to get rid of them responsibly:

  • Sensitive information to shred (paper or discs) – do you have a local shredding company where you can bring this to shred?  Mobile shredding services are available to come to you in some areas. Office supply stores sometimes offer this service.
  • Scrap metal – broken garden tools, miscellaneous metal parts. Most recycling centers have bins for these items.
  • Clothing and fabric scraps – most charities take usable clothing, but clothes that are stained, torn or unusable can still be recycled.  Goodwill Industries takes worn out clothes, sheets and fabric scraps and repurposes them.
  • Plastic stuff – broken toys, buckets or pieces of household equipment don’t need to be put in the landfill.  Many recycling centers take different kinds or plastic for proper disposal or repurposing.
  • Paint, chemicals – these hazardous wastes need special care.  Most counties have facilities for disposing of them.
  • Building materials – many larger cities have re-use stores run by Habitat for Humanity or similar organizations.
  • Food – unopened, unexpired food can be taken to a local food bank.
  • Liquor – word has it that the Lyons or Elks clubs accept unopened liquor bottles and use it for raffle prizes. Check for a lodge in your area.
  • Styrofoam – another item that makes me cringe when I think of putting it in the landfill. Styrofoam is another item that some recycling centers accept.  Making it less onerous to dispose of oversized electronic packaging.
  • Packing peanuts – UPS and other shipping stores will take these
  • Oversize trash  – Junk haulers will pick up for a fee. There are national franchises and local operators; use Yelp to find a good one.
  • E-waste – most cities have electronics recycling centers. Be on the lookout for special e-waste recycling events put on by local organizations.
  • Stuff to sell or donate.  Here is a list of options for getting money (or not) for the things you don’t want.
    • Donate to CharityDonationTown.org will identify charities that will pick up in your neighborhood
    • ebay Trading Assistants – have a special relationship with eBay and can handle many different kinds of items to resell for you.  Generally they take 30 to 50% of the selling price of your item for their service
    • Estate Liquidators
    • Online Community Forums – your neighborhood group, Freecycle.org, Craigslist.org
    • Auction houses
    • Host a Garage Sale – do it on your own or enlist your neighbors to join in

If all this sounds too complicated, that’s where a Professional Organizer can help you out.  Their job is to find ways to re-purpose, recycle or dispose of the many things that clients are done with. Professional Organizers often interface with all the above to help you expedite removal of unwanted stuff. Working with an organizer can help you feel good about your organizing and de-cluttering project from start to finish!

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Filed under General Organizing, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, Strategies