From the archives ~ The departure point

Today I have brought this little gem out of the archives to share with you. It may be an oldie but it is still a goodie.

The departure point, the staging area, the sorting space… whatever you want to call it, having one certainly makes decluttering more organised. This is the space where your chosen ones, that is the items you want to get rid of are moved to prior to their final departure from your home. This makes the initial decision making precess easier without the complication of dealing with an immediate removal. The system works like this…

  1. Chose an item you no longer which to have cluttering up your home.
  2. Remove it from the space where it usually lingers.
  3. Place it in the departure point until you are ready to do whatever it takes to rid it from your home.
  4. At the appropriate time you move these items on to their next destination. Which might be a car boot sale, a thrift shop, to the post office for mailing to its ebay highest bidder, to a friends house etc etc.

Choosing your departure point

I try to limit my departure point to one particular area, which for me is a shelf in the garage. I have a spacious two car garage but not everyone is that fortunate. If you live in an apartment or small home you may want to use a shelf in a cupboard, a box by the front door, a space in your laundry or even the trunk of your car. Due to space restraints or convenience it may be wiser for you to have one place for donations and a different place for items you wish to sell and another for items you are handing on the a friend or relative. Perhaps you’ll even want a place to store items you have separated from the herd, so to speak, in order to decide whether you are really ready to part with them. It is entirely up to you but I really think it is helpful to choose your space or spaces and stick to it/them for the sake of good organisation.

The area your departure point takes up will vary depending on..

  • How much space you have to begin with.
  • How large or numerous your declutter items usually are.
  • How many categories you wish to separate them into. This might be sell, donate, return or give to family or friend, for consideration.
  • Whether you share your space with other people that may or may not be family members.
  • How often you can get to your donation point.
  • If you bother to sell items or just give them away.

My garage shelf has two boxes and some extra space for larger items that don’t fit in the boxes. One box is for donations, one is for items I plan to sell. Naturally things that are past being useful bypass the departure point and go straight into their respective bins, either garbage or recycling.

The items I am considering decluttering but haven’t fully committed to yet get put in either the sell or donate box depending on what I am likely to do with them if I decide to declutter them permanently.

My designated clutter departure point

To be honest though, due to me performing a little reshuffle in my craft room while around the same time my husband and son both did a some decluttering of their own my departure points have spread all over the place at the moment. My situation is complicated by the fact that I photograph everything for my blog. This a an example of why slow decluttering is much less messy.

Decluttering gone wild

In a nut shell. Decide on an area to store your clutter prior to its ultimate departure. This keeps your rejected items neatly rounded up and away from your keepers until you donate, sell or rehouse them. Then when the time is convenient send them on to their final destination out of your house. Then revel in the joy of living with less while you continue to divide and conquer.

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

Please follow and like us:
Pin Share

Continue reading with these posts:

  • Mini Mission ~ Wednesday 20Dec2017 Declutter by recycling some items. That mound ofused takeout containers, old newspapers and magazines, paperwork that needs shredding, glass jars you set aside in case you have a use for […]
  • Mini Mission Monday ~ Memorabilia Items Mini Mission Monday is about finding ten minutes a day to declutter. To make it easy for you, each Monday I set seven declutter missions, one for each day of the week for you to follow. It […]
  • Mini Mission Monday Mini Mission Monday is about finding ten minutes a day to declutter. To make it easy for you, each Monday I set seven declutter missions, one for each day of the week for you to follow. It […]
About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. Hi Colleen,

    I have my departure point in the corner of my bedroom. Having it there annoys me so it is a constant reminder to Move It On haha…

    I went through my catalogs the other day, thinking I should do the DMAchoice thing to stop them from coming… I used to shop a bit from the catalogs but rarely do now since I have been decluttering in earnest… I was going through them and realized that at least 2/3 of them were from a prior year! I must already be off the list since I am such a slacker about shopping haha… The departure point for the 2/3 was the trash can 🙂 I have the remainder in a magazine file until I decide what I want to do about them.

    I remember this post from the early days of reading your wonderful blog 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Ha ha Peggy, I likes the departure point to be somewhere where I see it often so it can irritate me enough to make sure I move it on too. Back with this post was written it was in the garage, now I also keep mine in by bedroom. Not many other spaces in a two bedroom apartment. Although my son keeps bringing his clutter for me to drop off with mine at the thrift shop so I have started also putting it behind a single sofa in the living room. Even with my rubbish short term memory of late I still remember that stuff is there and take it away every Tuesday.

  2. I would find this too much like having a “maybe box”. In my experience about 70% of what went into the maybe box eventually came back out again. Mine has to go right out into the car to go to charity/tip immediately. Anything that is going to be sold has to be in a very prominent place where it will really get on my nerves if I don’t put it on ebay or wherever!

    • I wonder if a “maybe box” will work better as you hone your desire to declutter. Whether, with time, you will become more determined to part with things that you can resist taking stuff back out. However, do what works for you because getting the stuff out of there by removing the temptation quickly is certainly effective.

      • I never have a maybe box, purely because I make the decision there and then. I think a maybe box is merely putting off the inevitable and the inevitable is that for most people (not all granted) a large proportion of the maybe box will sneak back into the house. We started our declutter journey in June 2013 and I’ve kept to that rule ever since. If it’s going to go it might as well go now, why hang on it it just in case?

  3. My departure area is in my garage. It’s a two car garage with one car in it, so there’s lots of room for large pieces & furniture. I usually let stuff sit there for 2 weeks, that gives me time to change my mind about an item if I want to. I have to admit once something is there it usually remains there & I forget what’s even there. Lol

    I think I like knowing that I have the option to retrieve something if I want to, even though I’ve only done so a few times in 4 years.

    Thanks for this gem from the archive Colleen

    • Hi Calla, when I wrote this post I had a two car garage with one car too. Although there were also two motorbikes in there but still plenty of room. Now I have a cage in the apartment building basement and a single car space, so the clutter need to go out the door pretty quickly. Although there is a lot less of it these days and what there is is usually very small. Back in the day the big garage was great.

  4. My departure point is an area close to the door I use to leave the house. It is small because I have little to get rid of.

  5. I keep a box or large paper bag in the office/sewing room. As soon as it’s full, I head to the thrift store for donation. A large bag went to Goodwill today as a result of the last two weeks’ mini-missions.

    • Smart move June. I keep a paper bag under my kitchen sink where I put all my tiny paper scraps while card making. Once it is full I take it out to the recycling bin. That way all the little bits are contained that would otherwise be really messy loose in the big bin and probably blow down the street when they came to empty it. I have a friend who saves the paper bags for me because I don’t shop much so rarely acquire any myself.

  6. The departure point helps keep me from going back through things on accident. If I have a stack of stuff I hate it when I can’t remember if I’ve already sorted it–and if I have, what this pile was, or if someone has mixed my piles up! (Usually because they were needing the table I was using as a sorting point for a box). So I have clear boxes for the 3 charities I send stuff to and am good about putting stuff there as I decide now. Much less frustrating and more efficient!

    • Smart idea Kayote, especially sorting them into the individual charities. I take all mine to the one place so it is easy for me. However I am thinking of instigating a Free Box at my art space location, as there are about eleven other art space in the same location. We can then all bring in art/craft supplies that we no longer need and give others a change to appreciate them and use them in their projects.

  7. What a great idea-a free box! I hope you are able instigate one.
    Good luck!

    • I will work on that this week. Of course that is if this week runs smoothly, my weeks aren’t in the habit of that lately but what doesn’t kill will make you stronger or so they say.

  8. deanna ar USA

    This is good Colleen. I usually keep mine in a large (long) plastic container in our guest room closet (all of mine generally always goes to the thrift shop). If it’s big, I put it in the back of my SUV. What I would really like is for it all to be gone immediately so I’m not tempted to reconsider. But I’m not willing to make extra trips for just a few things.

    Yesterday hubby cleaned out the garage. I was happy. This made room for him to move some of his hobby supplies into the garage…giving him a little more space in the hobby room. He will be happy.

    • Hi Deanna, extra trips are just a waste of time in gas. However I guess if one can’t trust themselves getting the stuff out of there quickly is a good idea.
      The hobby space is an issue for us at the moment too. We are trying to figure out the best way to integrate one into our small apartment. A murphy bed might be the best solution but we don’t want to rush into anything. Hubby is working full time for seven months so we have plenty of time to think about it.

      • deanna ar USA

        Colleen, once I put it in the outbox, I seldom change my mind…its just that I have to rethink it. I prefer it to be gone. However, I don’t plan to make extra trips…were being very frugal right now.

        I did have a surprise about a week ago. I spent part of the day with my two cousins…out to lunch and a little shopping. I haven’t shopped in quite a long while and actually didn’t buy anything, but I was surprised at how much I wanted stuff. I thought that was gone!!!

        • Hi Deanna, the beauty of being frugal is it is usually also environmentally friendly and I love that. Though frugal alone is good in my book.
          There is so much stuff out there it is easy to fall into the trap of wanting some of it. The best strategy is to stay away from the shops. Although putting yourself in the way of temptation and successfully resisting it is good training too. I hope you were proud of yourself. I have become quite the opposite, I spent an hour and a half to do a little clothes shopping the other day and came home with nothing. I am so fussy now that it isn’t easy to find what I need and be happy with it. I’m ok with that though, it’s not as though I will be going naked any time soon.

  9. I have a large tote bag in the sewing room cupboard for items to guve to the Hospice op shop. When it’s full I take it there. I also have a crate for gifts and stuff to return to others in the same cupboard.

    I have finally passed the 2,000 number of items decluttered! In fact today it is exactly 2016!

    Thanks for your inspiration!

    • It is nice when the departure point ends up as small as a tote bag. Mine used to require a large space in the garage but now a tote bag does it for me too.

  10. Colleen, for years I used a pretty white metal baby bed in my garage. I had removed a section of the legs to make it lower to the floor, as two of my larger dogs used to sleep in it. Sadly, the dogs are gone, so it had become my holding area. The footboard and headboard held in bags of things nicely. Now, the baby bed is in my yard sale items and I have moved a table to its place. The table was also in the garage, so this has freed up a good bit of space. It is a fairly large table and I may eliminate it later, but it is good for doing projects on, or storing extra dog food bags off the floor.
    I am keeping it for right now—-at least until I have gotten rid of all my excess. It currently has my yard sale signs on it and another large, flat box of items going to the sale. Hurray!

  11. Did a sweep around the house yesterday & found another blanket… Today found a comforter… In the shed, Wall O Water things (for growing stuff outdoors in cold temps – never used), ironing board (never used haha), iron (my daughter has one if I suddenly need to iron something), decorative plate, some small empty storage containers, a clothes drying rack (I have several, this one is my least favorite)… This stuff is in my final departure point, my car! I will drop it off on my way to work this afternoon 🙂

    • forgot: desk drawer organizer, battery operated “candlestick”

    • Peggy, half way through reading that I thought you don’t need a transition area for that lot because there is enough for a trip to the thrift shop and lo and behold that was how the story ended. Well done you!

  12. Idgy of the North

    Hi Colleen,

    I keep a box by the front door. We have a fresh produce box delivered to us bi-weekly. The company no longer takes the cardboard boxes back and they are in too good a shape up recycle. After removing the produce and cleaning out the box, it’s left by the door to get filled up. We try to drop it off at the charity shop prior to the next produce delivery.

    Things to sell go in my office. I like a really decluttered office so this location is to encourage timely posting of items.