Quiet the clutter: sell it, donate it, change it or recycle it

Over the holidays I spent many a peaceful night admiring the Christmas tree lights in the dark, once the house was quiet. Now, with opened presents stacked under the tree in the daylight, all I can think is, “What’s that noise?” The noise is coming from the presents under the tree, it’s coming from the pile of papers on the ottoman, from the kids’ room, my closet, and from the tree itself: “Put me away!” they scream in unison. It’s January, and it’s time to quiet the clutter.

I’m not sure where to start, so I’ll start with the muffled yells from my purse, since they say to begin with small wins to propel you forward. Oh, purse, how did so many pens migrate to your insides? Time to relocate you back to the supplies drawer. I open the drawer, but only a crack, and toss in the pens. No need to see the mess waiting in there for me later.

Wallet, it’s also time to purge you of those coupons that perished on Dec. 31.

To-do lists, you are going to be done electronically from now on. I am tired of wasting time rewriting you every time the paper gets too tattered or the list gets too long.

Digging to the bottom of my purse, I find it strewn with U.S. change, like a battlefield littered with mines — it must be cleaned. I’ll take care of it on my next trip across the river at Walmart. I like their change machine: dump in your change, it spits out a paper you redeem at the teller for dollars — and it even rejects your Canadian coins that might have been mixed in so that you can reintegrate those with their peers in your wallet.

Bookshelves, you’re next. You have become unruly and it’s time to weed the garden of literary thought. Two boxes should help here — one to donate and one for a garage sale.

I go downstairs to find boxes and … ah, yes, there is another screaming demon: the old computer and monitor that must vacate the premises. I’ll bring it to recycling, but have been told that even though it’s in working condition, it will be taken apart because it is a bit too old (just like it’s owner).

What do I do about all the old textbooks? Google — what is the answer to my question? www.bookscouter.com? I’ve never heard of it, but I’ll try it out. Type in the ISBN number and it tells you which websites pay the most for your texts. It even has free shipping if you send the texts on their voyage to a better home from the U.S. If no one wants your text you can donate them.

Amazon.com even buys textbooks? No kidding. Wait, what’s this? You can sell your old video games, electronics, movies, and other books on Amazon trade-in? Cleaning will have to wait — an instant garage sale is about to happen.

I go through all of my books in the garage-sale box, and find some are worth 10 times on Amazon what I would have sold them for locally.

It’s amazing! (Yes I chose to use a word supposedly banned this year.) I have made several hundred dollars, if the vendors live up to their quoted

amounts. Just a bit of labour to package up the books and games (though don’t tape them closed before crossing the border) and some hulking fellow to carry them to my trunk (they are quite heavy) and I can get rid of them the next time I need to get gas, eggs or dairy across the river.

Now what about the other stuff in the garage-sale box? There has to be a better way than inviting a bunch of hagglers into my carport to make 25 cents. Perhaps it’s time to sell some items online for free in the newspaper’s classifieds, or using kijiji.ca, or Craigslist.

If my resolutions were to make change, save time, sell a book, make more money, lose weight and clean house, then in just a couple of hours I have accomplished them all — and the screaming has subsided temporarily.

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