Finals season is sneaking up, and with it the dread of having to re-pack all of your life into a few boxes and head back home. If you’re worried about how you’ll possibly fit all of your things into a reasonable number of containers as you head home for winter break, now is the time to start shedding items. Think of it as a useful way to procrastinate on your final papers.

Toss what’s broken: If you have a bleach-stained t-shirt or an irreparably busted desk organizer, throw them out. Things get broken easily when you’re a student, and without someone to remind you to toss them it’s easy to hold on to junk. Getting rid of unuseable things now will reduce the amount that you have to contemplate packing and will allow you to beat the rush at the school dumpsters.

Sort your school t-shirts: If you’ve managed to accumulate buckets of school t-shirts, now is the time to whittle. Things that are the wrong size or just ugly need to be donated (whether to friends or a charity is your call). Organizational t-shirts can be given to someone else in your club. At the end of it, though, try to only pick one or two school t-shirts from the semester that you want to hang on to and give the rest away.

Start boxing knick-knacks: This is more applicable to people who are graduating early, going abroad, or changing residence halls. If you’re in those categories, however, it’s key. If it’s not nailed down or wearable, it can probably start being put away. Good contenders for this are theme party costumes (you probably won’t need the devil trident before the semester is out), photos that you have taped up to your wall, and obscure kitchen items that belong to you (like that lasagna pan no one has used this semester).

Recycle your papers: If you take paper notes, scan and digitize them in Evernote once classes are over. That way, you can recycle the paper and avoid lugging it home or storing it for the next semester. The same goes for any documents you may have picked up during the year–I know that I have ads for the study abroad department, a welcome-back barbecue, and a Thai take out menu sitting on my desk. All of those are stressing me out, and all of them can be recycled now.

Find a charity that does curbside pickup: For things that are in good working order but you don’t want to take home (very large lamps–particularly right before summer–and clothes that don’t fit as you’re heading in to winter), charity donation gives you approximately eight billion times the good karma that trashing them does. If you don’t have a car, load everything into garbage bags and arrange for curbside pickup from a local charity. DonationTown will help you find a charity in your area.

Decluttering over a few weeks rather than a few fevered days at the end of the semester will help reduce the amount of things you have to pack while lowering your stress load. Finals time is stressful–packing doesn’t have to be.

[Image courtesy of Flickr user Dvortygirl. Licensed under CC BY SA 2.0.]