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     What to Do With Your Unwanted Stuff

A frequent by-product of the organizing process is usually a bunch of stuff you’ve decided you no longer want, love, or use. Getting rid of all this stuff can sometimes be a challenge -– but don’t let that stymie your progress! Here are three ideas of what to do with your CASTOFFS:

If your belongings still have financial VALUE -– for instance, electronics in good condition, designer clothes, or antiques -– you might be able to recoup some of their cost by selling them. While having a garage sale might seem like the easiest way to sell your stuff, I generally don’t recommend it. Garage sales take a lot of prep work and planning, not to mention the time you have to spend staffing the sale. Unless you live in a densely populated area and expect most of the stuff you’re putting out will sell, skip the garage sale. Instead, try posting your most valuable items on eBay or Craigslist. You can do some RESEARCH online to see how much you can expect your goods to sell for –- helping you decide whether it’s worth your time to sell them or not.

For stuff that isn’t saleable but is still in perfectly good condition –- clothes that no longer fit, the extra microwave that’s been sitting in the garage, etc. –- it’s best to donate them so someone else can use them. Your local Salvation Army or Goodwill are great places to start, as they generally accept a variety of items –- call them before driving over to see what they’re currently accepting. For things they won’t accept, get creative – other places may still value your stuff. For instance, if you’re getting rid of stacks of magazines, why not drop a few off at the gym or at a hospital waiting room? Have extra televisions or video players? See if a local shelter could use them. Many things that you think aren’t valuable may in fact be desired by someone else –- try posting on Craigslist in the FREE section or on Freecycle –- the results may surprise you! With clients, I’ve found that when we match their donations to places which will actually use them, they feel much better about letting those things go.

Some of your stuff may not have any more useful life left and should be discarded in an environmentally-friendly manner. In many communities, recycling options abound for items like paper, plastic and aluminum, but what can you do with the REST of the stuff you want to recycle? This is where you have to get creative and do a little legwork. For electronics, some Goodwill locations and places like GreenCitizen will recycle your goods (sometimes for a small fee). See if old clothes can be used as art scraps at a local sewing center or school. Try calling your garbage company and see if they offer any resources or referrals for recycling beyond what they regularly pickup. Your local NAPO-affiliated Professional Organizer can also be a great resource for recycling and reuse ideas.


Joshua Zerkel, Productivity Strategist, is a Certified Professional Organizer and the founder of Custom Living Solutions, the San Francisco Bay Area’s premier productivity and organizing consulting firm. Josh is also the 2008-2010 President of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers.

Josh specializes in helping entrepreneurs and small businesses find easy ways to get control of their space, information, time, and technology so they can reduce stress and boost their productivity. Josh has been featured in various media, including CBS News, ABC News, the San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner, Organize Magazine, Online Organizing, and many others, is a regular columnist on the Franklin Covey website, and co-hosts the “Thrive Solutions” radio show on Thrive in Balance.

Josh is also a popular organizing instructor in the San Francisco business community, speaking to small and large companies about the different techniques they can use to optimize efficiency and productivity in their work environment so they can serve more clients and make more money. Although he doesn’t consider himself freakishly organized, Josh does admit to spending some of his free time alphabetizing his comic books and fixing the tags on his MP3 collection.

For more of Josh’s practical (and sometimes pithy!) organizing tips, sign up for the Custom Living Solutions newsletter at www.customlivingsolutions.com or call 415-830-6345.

Connect with Josh on:

Facebook: http://companies.to/customlivingsolutions

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/joshuazerkel

Twitter: https://twitter.com/joshuazerkel

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