Avoiding Stuffocation

 Posted by on September 13, 2010  Add comments  Tagged with:
Sep 132010

Over the weekend, I worked on filling two more storage tubs for our local consignment store, as I do every month. I once told someone this, and she expressed astonishment. “You take two tubs every month? But how can you possibly find enough stuff to do that?”

Oh, it’s easy. You’d be surprised just how easy.

Regularly consigning two tubs of stuff, the maximum allowed per appointment, is how I prevent “stuffocation.” And what is this, you ask? This is when you bring in more stuff than you take out, and your clutter begins to slowly close in, until you feel like you can’t breathe anymore.

Are you familiar with the quote, “Life is 5% joy, 5% grief, and 90% maintenance?” This really rings true for me, because when I think about how I spend my time, the majority of it is spent doing repetitive tasks. Laundry, cooking, dishes, picking up, paying bills. Maintenance – the things that I must do over and over again.

I think that most people get into clutter trouble when they begin to neglect the maintenance. As I always tell my husband, we’ll never be “done” organizing, because life keeps happening. It’s an ongoing process, because kids outgrow clothes and shoes, household items break, food and toiletries are necessities that must be purchased regularly. We’ll always have to buy stuff, so there will always be an influx of goods into this house. As a result, there must always be a flow of stuff out.

To this end, I keep a careful inventory of existing supplies, and exercise restraint, even when I find really great bargains, to avoid “overbuying.” I also keep these two totes in the basement, next to my laundry room door. They’re labeled with my consignor ID number:

At the beginning of the month, I schedule a consignor appointment online for sometime near the end of the month. While doing my regular housework, whenever I come across outgrown clothes, toys that have lost their lustre, or household items that are no longer needed, I take them downstairs and put them into the tubs. By the end of the month, the tubs are typically full. After my appointment, I put anything not accepted for consignment into the Goodwill box (to be dropped off when it’s full), and put the tubs back in their spot.

Because I always have a place for unwanted items to go (either Goodwill or consignment), it’s easy for me to regularly declutter and move stuff out, just a little bit at a time, so I don’t feel overwhelmed. Also, at every consignor appointment, I usually have anywhere from $25-$100 waiting in my account. I get better prices for many items than I could get on a garage sale, and the amount of work involved is significantly less.

You may not have a consignment store in your area, and consignment store policies and procedures vary. Ours takes only what they think they can sell, and if an item does sell, you get 40% of the selling price. If it doesn’t, the store takes care of disposal for you. Piece of cake!

I urge you to look into consigning, but even if this isn’t an option for you, the monthly “two tub rule” is still a good one, even if the stuff just goes to Goodwill, or Salvation Army, or to a relative who needs kid clothes, or into storage for a garage sale (if you will actually have the garage sale in the foreseeable future, right?) You must actually move the stuff out, every month. Don’t let the two tubs build up until you have 4, or 12, or 20.

Organized clutter is still clutter, and stuffocation by storage totes? As the song says, that ain’t no way to go.