When your attic beams start to creak and your garage is home to more arcade machines than cars, it’s time to sort the treasure from the trash. Here’s a look at how to turn your piles of boxes into a well-organized, well-sorted, and well-evaluated cache.
1. Set a Goal
This step is extremely important. Your garage and attic are built for storage, but how much is enough? Are your knick-knacks crowding out your second vehicle? Is your attic ready to burst?
Start by determining how much clutter you want to remove. If you want to clean out your attic entirely, then do so. If you want your garage to act as storage for your car and your winter clothes, maybe a little clutter can stay.
For some, it may be more useful to clean out specific possessions instead of focusing on space. Old Legos, bygone magazine collections, and high school sweatshirts might be due for a retirement, and taking care of these can help open up your space in the process. Of course, one rule will help truly sort the trash from the treasure…
2. Throw It Out
Most of us won’t star on Hoarders any time soon, but the pack rat in all of us wants to hold on to frivolous items for flimsy reasons. For those challenging moments when an old scarf suddenly becomes an irreplaceable heirloom, follow one simple rule: Throw it out.
Psychologically speaking, our brains have a funny way of looking at the items we possess. The reason that scarf seems so important is because our minds tend to focus more on losses than gains, which is why tossing it out seems like such a big deal. As if that weren’t enough, the mere fact that we own something, no matter how trivial, increases its perceived value, meaning that the same scarf, around someone else’s neck, could just as easily seem like junk.
Don’t let your overly sentimental brain hijack your sensibilities. If you haven’t used the item in the past 6 months, get rid of it. Furthermore, have a box or bag nearby in order to make the decision quickly. That way, you won’t have the opportunity to overinflate the value of your worn-down running shoes.
3. If You Keep It, Give It a Place
That being said, there are items, like old baby pictures and the menu from the restaurant of your first date, that won’t see use, no matter how much time passes. However, that doesn’t mean they should sit in the garage collecting dust.
Clear your space and enshrine your memories by displaying memorabilia proudly. Put prom pictures in a scrapbook, frame the old letter jacket, or find a glass case for your childhood gold booties. If it can’t be tossed and possesses no legal utility (passports, birth certificates, and so forth.), give it a place somewhere in your home instead.
4. If You Can’t Toss It or Display It, then Store It
Now, what do you do with everything else? Namely, the sports gear, seasonal clothes, and other items that can’t be tossed but aren’t going to fill a trophy case either? The short answer is: Store them.
The long answer is: Store them in an organized manner, based on the ease with which they must be accessed. If it’s fall, storing your only warm jacket in a storage unit may not be a good idea. However, if you only hit the slopes occasionally, then a climate-controlled storage unit is exactly what your prized snowboard needs.
With the extra space freed up from your sorting, install some shelving, buy a lockable cabinet or two, and organize your possessions in an accessible and logical fashion. That way, you’ll avoid a late-night trip to the hardware store with unopened duct tape sitting on the shelf.
5. If You Find Something Valuable, Talk to an Appraiser
So, we’ve sorted the trash and the valuables from the rest. But treasure isn’t just about sentimental value.
Thousands of individuals have discovered an unknown antique of exceptional value hiding amongst their rafters, and there’s a chance that you could, too. If you possess antiques that are attractive and unique, consider taking them to an antique dealer. The experts there can help assess the age and rarity of the item through their extensive experience and send you on your way with a hefty payout for your troubles.
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