Wondering what to keep, store, sell, or discard when you’re having a clear out? Here’s a quick guide to help you make decluttering decisions.
Decluttering is an excellent way to make the most of any space. But it’s important to go into a decluttering session with a plan – or you might find yourself standing in a sea of items, unsure if you’ll ever see your floor again.
Knowing what you’d like to keep, sell, donate, store, or discard before you start can help make the process run smoothly. While there’s bound to be some unexpected items that pop up along the way, you can largely predict where each item needs to be in advance.
Items to keep
The main rule of thumb is to keep items you use often – ideally every month, but at least once a quarter. If you use the item any less frequently, it might make more sense to store the item offsite in a storage unit.
Some examples of items you might use often include:
- Stationery and office supplies, including a printer, scanner, or laminator
- Cleaning supplies and equipment
- Clothes, shoes, and accessories
- Sports equipment such as bikes, golf clubs, and tennis rackets
- Electrical cables and chargers
This list should hopefully be the easiest to write, as items you use frequently should be front-of-mind.
Items to sell or donate
If you haven’t used something in the past 12 months and you’re unlikely to use it again in the future, it’s probably time to find it a new home. If the item is in good condition, you could try selling it secondhand on places like Trade Me or Facebook Marketplace, or donating it to an organisation or person in need.
Some examples of items to consider selling or donating include:
- Sports equipment you no longer use
- Clothes and shoes you no longer wear
- Electrical equipment such as laptops, computers, tablets
- Furniture and home decor
- Books, including recipe books
- Kitchen appliances
Some items might not hold enough economic value to sell, but still, be in greatcondition. Consider donating items to local charity shops, churches, kindergartens or play centres, schools, or other community organisations. Call ahead first to check whether they are accepting donations.
Items to throw away
Some items are not simply not worth selling or saving. If something is broken or expired, it’s time to dispose of it either through recycling, composting or taking it to landfill.
Items to consider recycling, composting, or throwing away include:
- Expired food or drink
- Broken items
- Unneeded paperwork (use a shredder for sensitive documents)
- Expired skincare products
- Old furniture and appliances
If you can, try to avoid landfills. Some organisations enjoy ‘upcycling’ old furniture, for example. There are also organisations that specialise in recycling electronics and other household items. Auckland Council has a great search tool to help you identify whether something can be recycled.
Items to keep in a storage unit
Storage units are ideal for storing items you still appreciate and need but don’t want to access on a regular basis. They are also a safe place to store sensitive items, such as confidential documents and other paperwork.
Some examples of items to keep in your storage unit include:
- Holiday decorations
- Seasonal outdoor equipment such as a tent or gazebo, or pool toys and accessories
- Seasonal outdoor furniture, such as cushions you only use in summer
- Seasonal sports equipment, such as skis and snowboards
- Sentimental items or furniture earmarked for future generations
- Documents, receipts, and other paperwork
At National Mini Storage, we have both household and commercial storage units, with measures in place to keep your precious items safe and secure. Enjoy peace of mind thanks to CCTV, daily security checks, external alarm monitoring, individual door alarms on each storage unit, and much more. We can even store your big-ticket items, such as cars, caravans, boats, and other important investments.
Benefits of storing vs. selling or discarding
Decluttering has become something of a buzzword these past few years. Clearing out a space almost feels addictive – you may find yourself driving yet another load to landfill just to get that rush of a clear, clutter-free space.
However, a well-organised storage unit may be kinder to both your wallet and the environment in the long run. You can create the perfect space for your home or office while enjoying peace of mind that anything you use infrequently is easily accessible in your storage unit. You’ll get all the benefits of living minimalistically without putting pressure on landfills or needing to buy or rent items again in the future.
If in doubt: Ask these decluttering questions
Sometimes, the hardest part of decluttering is making so many decisions. If you’re deliberating over an item, here are some prompts to help you gain clarity.
1. Do I use this item often?
If you use an item at least once a quarter, it’s probably worth keeping close by.
2. Have I used this item in the past 12 months?
Sometimes we keep items we think we might need in the future, but that day never comes. If you haven’t needed it for an entire year, it’s possible you won’t need it this year, either.
3. Is this a seasonal item?
Storage units are a great place to keep seasonal items such as Christmas decorations or snow gear.
4. What is the cost to replace this item?
If the item will cost a lot of money to replace, it might be more financially beneficial to keep it in storage. Calculate the cost of storing the item versus replacing it to help you decide.
5. Do I want this item?
It’s ok not to want some items. If you no longer like it, there’s no rule to say you must keep it! Pass it on or store it for future generations.
6. Could I rent this item if I needed it again in the future?
Many businesses offer the option to rent specialist gear for a reasonable price as and when you need it, meaning you no longer need to own everything yourself. For peace of mind, research the rental market for each item before letting it go.
Getting started: A five-step action plan
Now that you’ve run a mental inventory of what you’d like to keep, sell, donate, store, or discard, it’s time to dive in. If you’re new to decluttering, or you have a lot of items to sort through, it’s a good idea to start with a manageable and specific area of your home or office. For example, a small shelving unit or cupboard.
- Start by creating four lists: Keep, Sell/Donate, Store, Discard.
- Run a mental inventory through everything you think you own and add items to the appropriate list.
- Assign appropriately-sized storage boxes, containers, or bin bags for each list.
- Remove the items you know you would like to sell, donate, or discard, first.
- Carefully place the items you’d like to store in a storage box.
Now, you should only be left with the items you’d like to keep. Depending on the size of the area you’re decluttering, this process could take anywhere from 45 minutes to several days.
Too long, didn’t read? Here are the highlights:
- Use four lists to guide your decluttering: Keep, Sell/Donate, Store, Discard.
- Keep or store what you use.
- Sell, discard, or donate what you don’t use.
- Consider placing seasonal items in a storage unit to free up space.