In clearing up the clutter a good start is vital, just as in a foot race. That means doing something up front that returns noticable results. Management types call it picking the low-hanging fruit, or applying the Pareto 80/20 rule -- in anything a few things (20 percent) are vital and many (80 percent) are trivial. The same idea
There are at least two approaches you can take:
- Start with items that are physically big, things that would leave a gap.
- Start with the things that are most noticable to you where you spend most of your time, perhaps around your immediate work area.
Let's start with the big items. You may have old computers, peripherials like printers and monitors, and other electronic items you used in following your family history. Are they outdated, or simply broken? Perhaps like me you find it a mental wrench to dispose of something for which you paid a thousand and more dollars. It may seem like a confession that you made a bad investment, even through you probably got good use out of the equipment. The fact is that if its five years old or more, and just sitting collecting dust and taking up space, consider its earned its keep and deserves to be given a decent burial.
Except you can't just bury it. Computers and many peripherals contain heavy metals that pose environmental hazards when disposed of. A good summary of how to safely get rid of old computer equipment is here. Note the advice about ensuring you don't leave sensitive information on an old hard drive.
Here is the web contact for Ottawa FreeCycle
UPDATE: The Ottawa Citizen of March 23 has an article on a Toshiba Canada recycling program. They will pick up laptops, handheld computers and LCD monitors, but not desktop computers, CRT monitors or printers. More information here.