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Begin Your Spring Cleaning When was the last time you did a little spring cleaning? If it’s time for you to go through your closets, bookshelves, and drawers, you’ll enjoy these useful tips:  •

Don’t try to tackle the task in one day. In our busy lifestyles, it’s too hard to block out an entire 8 hour day to clean, organize, categorize, and depart with our belongings. Instead, spread this task out over a week or even month’s time. 

Before you start cleaning, set up an organization system. Label five boxes: donations, library, storage, trash, and yard sales.

Start in one room, then work your way to the other rooms. Start in one corner of the room and work your way to the other side, as you clean out your cabinets, drawers, and closets, toss things that have no sentimental value, you’ve outgrown, you haven’t touched in at least one year, or have been meaning to “fix”—into their proper boxes.  

When you’ve finish one room, move your set of boxes to the next room and start over.

When one of your boxes gets full, move it to the garage where you can sort, properly package, or trash the contents of those boxes. But don’t do it right away, wait until you’ve finished spring cleaning your home first.  If you start sorting everything you’ve tossed in those boxes, you’ll never get back inside to finish your spring cleaning. 

When you’ve been through every room in the house, including the basement, head on out to the garage. At this point you have two choices: you can start doing the spring cleaning thing on your garage or you can start going through all those boxes you’ve brought from the house.  Personally, I’d go with taking care of the boxes and saving the garage for another spring cleaning fling.

  Donating To Charitable Organizations Don’t just toss all your breakables into a box and expect a thrift store to accept them.  If you toss your breakables into a box without properly wrapping them in newspaper or other packaging materials, they’ll arrive at the thrift store in a million little pieces. Take the time to wrap your breakables in newspaper, including knives and other cutting materials.  As you package your belongings to be donated, make a note of what you’ve donated: name of item and retail value. Once at the charitable organization of your choice, ask for a receipt. Everything you donate has the potential to help reduce your year-end taxes.  Off To The Library While your local library may not place all your old books onto its shelves, your books, videos, and musical CD’s will still go to good use.  Every library has a “Friends of the Library” program and uses every donation to help raise funds for the library and keep it in the black for yet another year.  If your local library doesn’t take magazines, drop them off at your nearest retirement home or public school district; these organizations can use them for craft projects and reading materials.  Storing Those Memories Once you start going through your storage box, you may find things you thought you wanted to keep only to realize you’re better off donating them.  So just put them off to the side and make a new donation pile.  If you don’t have the proper boxes to store your keepsakes, take a trip down to your local department store and buy some.  It’s important to properly package your keepsakes since you’ll be storing them in your garage or basement. Trashing The Trash Whatever you do, don’t go back through those trash boxes!  You’ll regret it if you do, as you’ll find yourself having second thoughts about dumping something into the trash.  Instead, just take that entire box, tip it upside down, and dump it into your large outside trash can.  Then hurry up, close the lid, and walk away.  To Yard Sale Or Not To Yard Sale? While I don’t have the patience for yard sales and often donate anything my tastes or waist have outgrown, many families find yard sales a great way to earn a few extra bucks.  Heck, those earnings could buy your family a trip to the local ice cream parlor, a night out on the town as a couple, dinner with your in-laws, or even a weekend get-a-way in another town! If you’ve decided a yard sale is for you, make sure you check with your local city office.  Some cities require a license to sell your “stuff” and have rules for what you can and cannot do.  Place an ad in your local paper the week before your yard sale, place a few yard signs within a five block radius leading back to your home, and ask friend and family to spread the word—you’ll have a more successful yard sale.  What Are You Waiting For? Schedule 5 minutes of your time tonight to start getting your house in order and clutter-free. Written by Alyice Edrich. Courtesy of