The Power of Purging
Half to three-quarters of the pushback we get from people when it comes to organizing is about purging. When we first started out, we told people to keep things that made them happy, are beautiful, or are very useful. Great advice! But every organizer tells you these things. We found that we are most helpful when we have the opportunity to educate our clients, exploring the reasons that make purging difficult for them. Every personality type needs the right motivation to throw stuff out, and should really think about what fears lurk behind their decision to keep things others might consider junk.
Purging Your Way
Most of us who have trouble getting rid of stuff have an irrational, but very real fear of not having enough. Think about it. Do you really need a dozen matching, reusable grocery bags, or do you hold onto them just in case? Maybe it’s a result of being raised by someone who grew up during the Great Depression or your own personal experience with this century’s Great Recession. When the economy is good, we accumulate stuff like squirrels. Then when times are rough, we have a hard time throwing things away. Just remember, getting rid of things is free, and the resulting empty and easier-to-organize space is one of the most freeing feelings in the world!
How to Purge
Each room of your house requires a different method of purging!
Entryway: Get rid of unworn coats, unused totes and accessories, and relocate everything in there that you don’t wear or use on a seasonal basis. Our rule of thumb is: unworn items for two seasons are goners. Bag the items you can part with- doing so inhibits many from retrieving items and makes them easier to transport- and then donate or sell them as fast as you can. You really need to take a hard look at the things you have and keep only what you need. Outerwear accessories multiply faster than bunnies, so follow the two season rule when it comes to them. Mismatched gloves should get the heave-ho at seasons end. They’re not socks- you’ll never find the other one, as it most likely fell out of your pocket or is sitting at the bottom of your child’s locker just to get thrown out at the end of the year.
Home Office: Everybody has too many papers in their current filing system. Remember: you only have to keep documents that you might need again one day. Tax receipts and returns generally don’t have to go back further than seven years. Bills and statements don’t need to hang around for more than twelve months. Instead, keep your end-of-year statements. If you fear the federal Tax Man- as you should- then once the tax year is done, store those receipts and tax preparation stuff in a deep storage area like the basement or attic. It doesn’t need to be in your active office, especially if you’re short on space. Don’t forget to have a wastebasket or shredder right where you go through papers.
Bathroom: They may be small, but boy do they hold a lot of junk! Most of the stuff you’re going to purge in here can’t be donated so you’ll be able to trash it without feeling guilty. First, break down the room into three areas- medicine cabinet, shower/bath, sink storage- and then start throwing things out. Check expiration dates and get rid of anything you haven’t used in a year or two. What’s left is meant for your daily routine, plus a few seasonal, first-aid, and wellness items. Everyone’s medicine cabinet has leftover meds from surgeries or illnesses, but by the time any of this comes to pass, you’ll have seen a doctor and gotten the appropriate medicine. Trashing them is an easy way to make space. Also– NEVER move into a new house without purging your bathroom first.
Storage Spaces (Garage, Attic, Basement): Throw away/donate/sell anything practical you haven’t used in over two years. Let go of the same trivial reasons you have for keeping anything in any room, like how much you spent on something (it’s a sunk cost at this point) or “it might come in handy” (everything could come in handy). If you’re really honest with yourself you will realize that maybe two things from your attic have come in handy over the last 10 years. This is obviously not including any seasonal items or hand-me-downs. Things to ditch without worry include old picture frames you no longer use, obsolete cell phone chargers/computer cords, old linens and sheets that don’t make it to the closet. If you’re not purging these storage spaces, you’re just housing an entire room full of junk you don’t need! You could make much better use of that space.
So now that you’ve purged, what should you do with these spaces? Buy our book on Amazon! We’ve got the answers to all your burning organizational questions.