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Get Organized: What to Donate this January

By Megan Wilson on Jan 06, 2017

What to Donate and How to Get Organized with GoodWill

January is a month of resolutions, reflection, and goal setting. To help reach your goals for the year, it helps to start by getting organized. January is National Get Organized month, or GO Month. The best way to get organized is to remove anything in the way of a stress free day and productive year. To kick start this adventure, we’ve talked with organizing specialist and president of Neat Niche, Erin Podbielniak.

“Clutter is the buildup of postponed decisions,” Erin said. “Much of what we do as organizers is help people understand why they keep what they keep. The second step is when we encourage them to let go of the things that are no longer serving them.”

The local organization and productivity guru provided a list of items to remove from your home or office that will help you stay focused on what matters most to you in 2017. We’ve added in some suggestions, too!

get organized office


Erin says that paper is  the number one thing her company is  called about.

“People also have a fear about letting go of paper because they believe it may have some kind of important information on it that would leave them in a place of negative repercussions if they didn’t have it,” Erin said. “Unless the answer is that the IRS is going to be coming after them, they probably don’t need it.”

If you have documents with sensitive information, but don’t need, then invest in a shredder for regular maintenance of your paper piles. Most of your bills are paid online and can be tracked there.  For a big sweep of papers, hire a shredding service to do a bulk shred.

How Goodwill Can Help: Goodwill frequently has filing accessories and tools. From file folders to notebooks, you can develop a paired back filing system for the paper you do need to keep. May we also suggest a cute trashcan as a part of your “Don’t need this file?”

donate to goodwill


Throughout our lives, we collect items that remind us of special moments and adventures. Coffee mugs, t-shirts, paintings, and even clothing and jewelry. These memories are special. But if the items are preventing you from creating a beautiful space, it might be time to take inventory about what really triggers the memories you want to keep.

“The goal is to keep just enough things to give you a complete picture of the memory you’re trying to preserve,” Erin said. “At the end of the day, that usually means that pictures win out over everything else.”

How Goodwill Can Help: Donate your mementos that others might love to your local Goodwill. Find a store here. 

If you do end up keeping some memento items, display them or keep in a special memory box. Find a shadow box or beautiful wooden storage box at Goodwill.

Hardware You Never Use

You know you have them: Loose keys, screws, and tiny plastic baggies of hardware, all with unknown origins and purposes.  Unless you’re a craftsman or DIY addict, you likely never use these items that clutter up garages and random drawers throughout the house.

“People have an enormous amount of fear about getting rid of them,” Erin said. “The reality is the hardware store can easily supply whatever screws, copies of keys, or other bits of hardware you might need.”

How Goodwill Can Help: Our stores are full of boxes, and hanging racks that be repurposed to store and display the hardware and tools you do need to keep. Consolidate everything into one place and stick to your resolution to put those items in their rightful places instead of all over your house.

Outdated Media

This means cassette tapes, VHS tapes, floppy disks, and other memory media that won’t work with today’s technologies. If you need the data or the photos on these media, then convert them to a usable format, right away.  This Richmond area service can help.

“A word of caution if you to convert it: Much of that old media is of such a lower quality than what we can access now that when we go to play it on new devices that it sounds or looks unworthy of the effort you put in to convert it in the first place,” Erin said. “The only exception here would be family pictures, videos, and other memorabilia.”

If those floppy disks hold old work projects you’ll never use again, then make a different decision like disposal. The more you get rid of, the more easily you can find the media that you really need when you need it.

How Goodwill Can Help: Once you go through your media files and determine what you need to keep, create a storage system that will make it easy for you to find them. A variety of items can be found at Goodwill can help you including sticky labels, shelving, filing supplies, and more.

fitness equipment organized

“Wishful thinking” Items

Workout equipment, hiking boots, that Kindle you say you’ll always use… Keeping things for an unknown potential future use is one of the fastest ways to build up clutter in your spaces, says Erin.

“Unless you can immediately think of a use for something AND a time in the foreseeable future where you will use it in that way, you are not in a position to use that item,” Erin said.

How Goodwill Can Help: Someone else will be able these kinds of items to use right away. Begin making a pile near your front door and schedule a time to visit Goodwill to deliver your donations. Erin recommends singing the song from “Frozen” while you do it.

Why Getting Organized Matters

The more items you can remove from your home or office, the easier it will be for you to focus on what is happening in your life right now. That leads to better professional performance, happier family interactions, and increased creativity.

“At the end of the day, the goal is to have an equal balance of quality memories from the past, a life firmly anchored in the present, and a small selection of intentional items that you know will serve you in the future,” Erin said.

Find your local Goodwill to donate and find items to help you get organized today. Visit our store locator here.


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