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How to Declutter Your Home When Overwhelmed

As soon as January hits, people start looking up tips for how to declutter their homes. We shifted our focus in that direction, too. There is just something about the start of the year that pushes us to try new things and reinforces our desire to begin in an organized fashion. There is only one problem – most of us also go into the holidays feeling stressed about all the things we have to do. And we carry that stress into January because everything that wasn’t absolutely essential got pushed off of our “To Do” lists until after the first of the year.

Clear Your Mind’s Clutter First

So, how do you declutter your home when you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start? Take it slow. Nobody is judging you except for you. And giving yourself a break is one of the best pieces of self-care advice I would give anyone this year.

My best decluttering tip is to take a deep breath and pick a small category of items to tackle. You don’t need to declutter an entire room in one day – and you certainly shouldn’t pressure yourself to declutter your home in one weekend unless it has already been through the process and just needs a quick sweep. You don’t even need to declutter an entire drawer in one day. Just pick a category and start there.

Decluttering Outdated Medication

We started by decluttering our expired medication, both prescription and over-the-counter. This is just as critical for your health as it is for meeting your organization goals. You don’t want to take aspirin that expired in 2014. Yes, it’s a pain in the ass to go into the pharmacy and get new allergy meds or antacids, etc. But if you are taking these meds, you want them to work the best they can – and that’s not going to happen if they expired three years ago. And it might not be safe, depending on the medications and how long ago they expired, either.

On Day 1 of your decluttering mission, go through your medicine chest, linen closet, bedside table, dressing table, or under-the-bed storage box and check the expiration dates of all of your medications. If they are out-of-date, put them in a spare plastic bag to separate them from your active medications. When you are finished separating, go through the bottles and remove all your personal information. Then put the bottles back into the bag for proper disposal.

How Do You Dispose of Expired Medications?

In Los Angeles, S.A.F.E Centers accept unused medications unless they are controlled substances. It’s safer for the environment and the water supply than dumping them in the toilet or tossing them in the trash. Controlled substances should be dropped off at take-back sites in your area, like local hospitals, pharmacies, or even fire departments. At the designated take-back sites, you can be sure that the old medications will be disposed of properly.

The S.A.F.E. sites are also great for household hazardous waste like old paint cans. Some sites even accept e-waste on certain days. If you don’t want to make a trip just to get rid of the meds right away, put them aside until you have other items to drop off at the site. Just be careful that putting them aside for proper disposal doesn’t turn into a “the expired meds bag has lived in the closet for the last 5 years” kind of scenario.

Why Did We Pick a Small Category for Home Decluttering?

We picked a very narrow category for decluttering because there is no sentimental attachment to outdated medication. Andy and I can both get attached to things, particularly gifts from family and friends. I’ll often look at something and get nostalgic about how it has been used, where it was bought (absolutely true for things bought when traveling), or who gave it to me. I’m never wistful about out-of-date ibuprofen. So, it was an easy place for us to start on this year’s decluttering goals.

Now, take that deep breath, pick your category, and make your first steps toward a decluttered home.

For more decluttering tips, click here.