Quick Survival Tip: Clean Out The Trash to Make Room For Treasure

As often as I can, I wash dishes and vacuum and rub things down with disinfectant until they’re clean. But I recently realized how important it is to clean my spaces of clutter that can hinder me both mentally and physically.

I carry way too many things with me no matter the time, day, or occasion. I’ll pack 12 days’ worth of clothing and supplies for a 7-day trip. Then I win inevitable realize I’m missing some actually vital thing that didn’t even cross my mind.

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My luggage will have socks suitable for the three pairs of shoes but no toothbrush. Luckily, I can usually buy whatever the thing is I left behind. However, when it comes to survival and prepping the last thing you want is to realize you have a package of markers and no food.

I’m the type of person who wrestles with sentimental and speculative value. “I could use that for something,” I tell my husband as he dangles random items with no place or purpose in our house over the trash. He shakes his head and places it back on the dining room table.

Honestly? I almost never do anything with those things that I could use for something. They take up space and confuse me when I have to organize mentally. Mentally, I need to establish where things are and why, what to do if I can’t see where I’m going, and how to make efficient use of space and time in an emergency.

When my batteries are mixed in with bottle caps and my shovel is buried behind decorating supplies, I’m in a dangerous spot when it comes time to reach blindly into that box or closet in a hurry. Great, I’ve cut my hand, dropped a box on my head, and am now in need of medical attention. This is a sign it’s time for me to clean out my trash and make room for some treasure (read: breathing room and safe passage in my home).

Tips to help you clean out the trash to make room for the treasure:

1. If you can use it, use it.

Set a reasonable deadline for yourself to do that art project or fit into those pants.

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Put that deadline in your calendar. If you live with someone, tell him or her when the deadline is.

Don’t put the item away into a closet or under a bed (I’m pretty sure this is how Hording starts). Leave it out in plain sight, maybe on your closet door or dining room table. With nothing else around it except may be a sign with the deadline on it.

Once that deadline passes, you’ve need to either have used the thing or tossed/donated it.

2. If it’s extra, store it and know it stored.

Do you know what it’s like discovering twelve cans of beans in your cabinet because you never took the time to remember you’ve already bought the previous eleven? I do, and it’s an embarrassing, silly feeling. “We don’t even eat beans,” was all my husband had to say.

There are entire websites dedicated to grocery lists, find one and use it to inventory your cabinets. You might surprise yourself.

If you make a grocery list, stick to it. Pasta might be on sale and you might not be sure if you have some (which your probably do) but if it were an issue, you’d have put it on the list.

3. If it’s expired, it’s trash.

Sometimes we forget about things or feel like they don’t go bad because of their nature. Medicine, food, some batteries, and even some containers have shelf lives that we’ll be safer paying closer attention to.

4. If it’s damaged, it’s trash.

Most broken things can’t be fixed, aren’t worth fixing, or aren’t worth the effort it takes to fix them. If you really cared, it would have been fixed by now (or by a reasonable deadline, you set to fix it by).

5. If it doesn’t fit, donate it.

Ill-fitting clothing is not a good look. Maybe, one day, you will be a size X again, but when you are, will your old size X clothes still be in style?

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Do you know for sure that they looked good on you to begin with?

Never, ever, wear or buy anything that doesn’t look good on you. Why would you? It seems so elementary until you try to figure out if something looks good or just feels good.

Try your clothes on and take photos of yourself.

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You’ll know what doesn’t look good and you won’t be able to rid yourself of it fast enough.

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