A cluttered house makes for a cluttered mind, so getting your house organised will give you peace of mind. First things first is to remember to do things one step at a time. Choose one room to start with and if that room's got lots of stuff in it, just do one section at a time.
Create three piles, keepers, give away, and fix-it. Make sure the things that you keep are worth keeping. And don't save tons of items, just how many hole punchers do you really need?
With the items that you give away, you have a couple of choices. First, you could simply donate to places like Salvation Army, Oxfam, or Purple Heart. If things are in good condition, you could consider trying to sell it at a consignment shop or garage sale. You might also arrange a swap with friends, where they all bring things that are in good condition and you bring yours and everyone ends up going home happy and will new stuff.
Things in the fix-it pile should be easily fixed, something like a clock with a broken battery or a shirt with a missing button could go here. But if it's going to be more trouble and effort to fix it than it would to buy a new one, chuck it into the give away pile.
In the keepers pile should be quality items that you will use and have use for. Don't just save something for the memories, of course there are exceptions, such as your wedding dress, but other things just have to go. Try taking a picture of the items before giving them away. You'll still be able to have the memory and be able to see it.
Once you're done with organising everything into piles, get rid of the stuff that you've decided not to keep. Box up and label the items from the give away pile and call a place that accepts donations. If you've decided to sell or swap things, arrange that as well. Get it done now, or in a couple of months it will still be sitting in boxes in your basement. Fix-it items should be put in the correct place as well, things to sew should go next to the sewing machine and other items may have to go to the workshop.
Now you should be left with just the keepers. But you still have to organise them, don't just stuff them back where you found them. Organise things into drawers, cupboards, closets, or containers. Similar things should go together. Put all office and school supplies in one closet, put tools in another. Buying clear containers is the best bet because you can see what's inside. But if you can't, don't despair, just label the box, you'll save yourself a lot of time and effort looking for things in the future.
Try to go through your house every once in a while, you'll be surprised how much stuff you accumulate. Remember if you're not using it, someone could.
Now step back and admire your work! Take a break and treat yourself to something nice, you deserve it.
Sharon de Hinojosa (naturegirl321) has lived and worked (mainly teaching English) in the US, Scotland, Spain, the Czech Republic, China, Korea, and Peru. And taught short-term in Venezuela and Taiwan. Her work has been featured in Transitions Abroad, Viva Travel Guides, TEFL News, and ELT World.
She has created The LA Job List http://www.thelajoblist.blogspot.com which lists schools, institutes and universities in 19 Latin American countries which offer English teaching positions.
Since living in Peru since August 2006, she wrote The Ultimate Peru List http://www.theultimateperulist.blogspot.com . With 50 pages and updated monthly it's a comprehensive guide for those living in or moving to Peru.