I don’t know what it is about this time of year, but you’ll often find me with a garbage bag in one hand and a spray bottle in another. I’m tossing things left and right and deep cleaning what’s left. I guess you could call it "spring cleaning," but with the weather being always-sunny here in Los Angeles, I feel it’s less about the season and more about how things tend to pile up during the school year: the toys, the papers, the… stuff. It all seems to reach critical mass right around now, so I’ve been looking to apps and gadgets to help me save space and declutter, and I’ve found some great solutions. Here are a few of my favorite ways to clear some room in my closets, on my shelves, and in my computer.
Digital Photos & Videos
There are plenty of places to store digital photos and videos online, but few that allow multiple family members easy ways to compile all their photos together, from every device, so they’re easy for everyone to access and enjoy. Bevy solves the problem, and they’ve thought of everything: all the photos are collected on a secure, connected device that lives in your home, organized by time, place or person, and viewable on the go with the Bevy app. From there, you can back them up to the cloud, share on social networks, and view them on your TV by connecting an HDMI cable. Best of all, it makes easy work of bringing together the scattered collections of photos we all have on hard drives, laptops, cameras, and smart phones in one place.
I’m a ruthless purger—I keep a pared-down wardrobe, so I’m constantly evaluating what I can get rid of to restore order to my closet. For most of my discards, that means donating to a local shelter, but for the items that are still in fantastic shape and sport a coveted label, there’s ThredUP. Order one of their polka-dot clean-out kits, and a bag will arrive at your door, ready to be filled with items you think will sell per their criteria. This really makes sense if you’ve got growing kids who didn’t wear that Gap shirt or J. Crew jacket more than a few times. You won’t be a part of the conversation about what it’s worth, but you can use their Earnings Estimator to get a sense of what you might earn back. The best part is that anything worth $60 and under will get you an immediate payout—so you can go get that new sweater you’ve been eyeing and start the process all over.
Old Media & Old Tech
It seems like overnight watching movies and listening to music became less about owning and more about streaming. That left most of us with piles of CDs and DVDs that feel worthless, taking up space and collecting dust in our increasingly digital worlds. Decluttr will rescue you from your old media, making it easy to sell CDs, DVDs, BluRays, video games, and even some electronics like smart phones, tablets, and e-Readers. Download the app (iOS and Android), which turns your phone into a barcode scanner so you can speedily enter all your titles. Then you’ll get an instant offer on the value of your mountain of media, and if you like what you see, you can ship everything to Decluttr for free. Once they get your package, they’ll send you a payment the very next day, which you can put toward your Netflix or Spotify subscription.
Stuff to Store
Sometimes you’re not ready to part with something, but you’d like it to get out of your face. Having a storage unit can mean paying for more space than you need, and with things out of sight, they tend to be difficult to remember and retrieve. Clutter wants to take the headache out of storage by doing everything—and I mean everything. They’ll come to your door with boxes, itemize and photograph your belongings so you know what’s in which box, drive it all away, store it in a guarded facility, and bring back whatever you need whenever you need it. The web interface shows you what you have stored, so it’s easy to locate what you need and ask for it back, and the pricing is reasonable: you get a move specialist to help you pack for two hours free, $35/hour after that, and every return trip is $20.
Magazines & Books
I admit, I’m a bit of a magazine hoarder, and the piles I have in my kitchen (Bon Appetit! Old issues of Gourmet!) and my bedroom (House Beautiful, Domino, and Dwell, oh my!) are forever multiplying and spilling over. This year, I’ve decided to go cold turkey and read everything on a tablet with an app called Texture. Texture lets me read hundreds of magazines titles for $14.99/month and has a great selection for my interests as well as my kids’ interests, which comes in handy if they’re bored somewhere (my daughter can read Sports Illustrated, and my son can read Rolling Stone). I’ve discovered so many cool titles I would have never picked up, like Afar for travel or Ask, a science magazine for kids. And I can feel a bit better about my paper consumption now that I’ve gone digital with my mag habit. For books, I’m enjoying Amazon Kindle Unlimited, which lets you read over one million e-book titles and download thousands of audio books for $9.99/month.
Let me know if you're inspired to get organized and declutter this spring! And if you see me coming with a garbage bag, run.
Greetings! Carley Knobloch here, digital lifestyle expert and girl boss at CarleyK.com. I'm also a regular correspondent on the Today Show and the smart home expert for HGTV, where I help audiences understand the ever-evolving world of home technology in an easy, approachable way.
I’m on a mission to tackle those home tech headaches that make you want to rip your router out of the wall and go live in a yurt. Because, it can be just… hard. To navigate all this tech stuff. To keep things up and running, you know? I’m here to help.