Organization Starts with Purging
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
I love to organize things! Call me weird, but I think its fun. But the first step in organizing is actually not organizing. Do you have any idea of what the very first step might be? That's right, it's purging. Purging is the very first step you have to take before you can successfully organize any area of your house. People try to get around purging by taking all their things and putting it into neat little boxes. That's not really being organized. That is having contained your clutter in the form of overstuffed drawers and filled-to-the-brim closets. This is not getting organized. This method is shuffling around your stuff and finding new ways to store it. To properly get organized, you actually need to pare down your things and find some breathing room amongst all your stuff. Easy to say and think about, but extremely difficult to execute. Just thinking about getting rid of their stuff can make some people break out in a sweat!
So if purging is so important and the first thing we should do before we even start organizing, why is it so hard to do? What makes purging so difficult? Why do we hold onto stuff for so long? Things we don't like, won't use, is broken, because it was a gift, because we paid too much money for it, and a whole host of other reasons. Why do we have this attachment to our things? What makes it so difficult to let go of our things?
I think it's several reasons. First, is that our emotions are tied to some items. "Oh, my friend gave me this shirt that I hate and I think she'll be upset if I don't wear it" kind of mentality. Or how about this one - "when I lose weight I can wear these clothes again" (never once minding that you've been saying the same thing for the last 5 years). For all of you who are saying this, I always want to respond - when you lose the weight you'll want to get new clothes. So get rid of the old, out-of-style, things that you don't like and will never use.
I think another reason we hold one to something is the fear that we might need it again "one day". I'm here to tell you that if you haven't used it in the last 6-12 months, you may not ever need to use it again. Instead of hoarding these things, find a new home for it with someone who will actually use it again. And if you do in fact need it again, you can borrow it or buy it again. A third reason is that we feel guilty if we don't want something that cost us money. To this I say, take it as a learning experience, thank the item and let it go.
I can recall only two instances in my adult life that I've needed something that I gave away. One was when I got rid of several cooking utensils including my potato masher. I thought "I don't need this" so into the donation box it went. Well, lo and behold not soon after that it turned out that I did in fact need that potato masher! Not having one, I used my Kitchen Aid stand mixer for mashing potatoes and it worked just fine. A couple years went by and I was still mashing potatoes that way, so I went out and bought a new potato masher as I found out that having one would be pretty helpful in my kitchen. The other instance was when I went looking for some pillow shams that I thought I still had and remembered that those were given away but I kept the matching comforter and eruo shams. In that instance, I made do with what I currently had until I upgraded the bedroom set and gave the rest of the bedding away. The point being with these stories is this, I was completely fine with doing without. I made do with what I had on hand, than later, I could buy the item again if I really needed it.
If we organize our things without taking the first step of purging, than we really haven't dealt with the problem - which is too much stuff. First, take the step to pull out whatever you are going to organize, go through it piece by piece and see what you can part with. Ask yourself these questions - Do I love this item? Do I use this item? Will I use this item in the next 90 days? Do I like this item? Is the item adding value to my life? If I were standing in the store right now, would I buy this item? Does this item "spark joy"? as Marie Kono phrases it. If the answer to any of these questions is "no", than let the item(s) go.
When you find yourself hesitant in putting something into the donation pile here are some thoughts that I've found to be helpful - Remind yourself that you really don't need the item. Remind yourself that there is someone else out there who will love and use the item. Remind yourself how freeing it feels to have space in your closet/drawers/bookcase/home without this extra stuff taking up space. Separate your emotions from the item. You can even thank the item for serving it's purpose in your life. Yes, I know that sounds crazy, but it works and gives you permission and the freedom to let go. That's really what purging is all about - Letting go.
So, let go of the past and look forward to the future. Let go of the too small clothes from your past and look forward to clothes that actually fit you right now. Let go of that thing you bought but really never loved to free up space for something you actually really love. Let go of all those books that you're never going to read. Clear out the clutter! If you're fearful of getting rid of something that you might need "one day", remind yourself that you can always buy it again if you do in fact need it. Give yourself permission to remove items from your home. When you do that, it is so freeing! Think of the things that you could do and the value you can add to your life if it wasn't being taken up with things that are holding you back.
Don't let your stuff control you. Instead, let you control your stuff. Every time I do a purge, I always feel lighter and more free. I have space and margin in my home. And that feeling is what keeps me going.
I made a printable just for you that you can download and print off that will help you sort through some of the questions in deciding what to purge. You can get that right here.
What is holding you back from purging? What have you found to be helpful in getting rid of things around your home? What challenges have you encountered when purging your home of things?
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