The new year offers a blank slate — an opportunity to set things right, to change course and accomplish our goals. When we set New Year’s resolutions, we are utilizing a very important concept called self-efficacy, which means that by virtue of aspiring to a goal and following through on it, we have a sense of control over what’s happening in our lives.

At the end of each year, millions of Americans (roughly 40% of us) lay out resolutions in an effort to help improve their lives.

Studies on this annual tradition show that after “exercise more” and “lose weight,” the most popular resolution is to “get organized.” It’s no wonder that January is designated as National Get Organized Month, a time to sort through and declutter our living spaces.

Clutter is anything that takes away from your enjoyment or use of your space. Decluttering involves removing unnecessary things to create harmony in your home, and yes, to make room for the things you genuinely love and want to keep.

That’s where Goodwill Central Coast comes in. Accepting donations of gently used goods, GCC turns those donations into community gold in the form of jobs that rebuild lives.

GCC proves that it represents more than a group of thrift stores. It stands proud as a nonprofit that removes obstacles to employment while keeping tons of items out of local landfills.

If you’re struggling and need guidance on how to declutter, here are several tips to get you started:

  • Start with five minutes at a time. If you’re new to decluttering, you can slowly build momentum with just five minutes a day.
  • Give one item away each day. This would remove 365 items every single year from your home. If you increased this to two per day, you would have given away 730 items you no longer needed.
  • Fill an entire trash bag. Get a trash bag and fill it as fast as you can with things you can donate to Goodwill.
  • Donate clothes you never wear. To identify them, simply hang all your clothes with hangers in the reverse direction. After wearing an item, face the hanger in the correct direction. Discard the clothes you never touched after a few months.
  • Take the 12-12-12 challenge. Locate 12 items to throw away, 12 to donate to Goodwill, and 12 to be returned to their proper home.
  • View your home as a first-time visitor. It’s easy to “forget” what your home looks like to a new visitor. Enter your home as if you’re visiting the home of a friend. Write down your first impression on how clean and organized the home is and make changes.
  • Begin the purge: We all acquire things throughout the years: clothes, accessories, books, gifts and more. Streamlining all this “stuff” can help create a more peaceful home that feels tranquil and settled. Go room-by-room, closet-by-closet, and drawer-by-drawer to clear out any unnecessary clutter. Renowned expert and author Marie Kondo recommends removing every item from a closet and putting it on the floor or bed. With everything out in the open, it’s a lot easier to move onto the next step and make decisions.

Why is this important? First of all, studies show a clear connection between home or workspace clutter and increased stress and anxiety. By taking the first step toward decluttering, that “feel good” effect will be enough to keep you going to the next step, then the one beyond that.

Secondly, once you get your space tamed and under control, it will be that much easier to relax, be creative, and focus on what’s really important in your life. Over the course of a lifetime, a typical human will spend a total of 3,680 hours (or 153 days) searching for misplaced items. Research shows that we lose up to nine items every day — or 198,743 in a lifetime, with phones, keys, sunglasses and paperwork topping the list.

In short, leading a cluttered lifestyle is a time suck, and it’s stressing us out. The good news is, solutions are there and easily accomplished.

The power of donations

Once you’ve decluttered and reorganized, take the clothing and household items you no longer need to one of GCC’s donation centers so they can serve the resolutions of a new family, a budding hobbyist, or someone else in your community.

Donations are the key to making Goodwill’s circular economy work. By donating, we all can reduce the need for someone else to buy it new — saving our natural resources. We are giving our items a second chance while deserving individuals in our community are able to gain job skills and find meaningful work.

Let’s all begin the purge — together!

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