Start your own Purge!

If you are getting overwhelmed with all of your stuff, and are thinking of starting your own purge, I have a few tips to get you started and to help you through a few stumbling blocks you may face along the way. When you first start thinking about getting rid of a lot of your stuff, or even if you are trying to help someone else get rid of a lot of their stuff, it’s a good idea to think about where to start, and decide how you will get rid of the stuff. Choose between getting a dump bin (if most of the stuff is on the garbage side of life) or taking truck loads to the dump (especially if the dump isn’t too far). You can also try selling your stuff by posting it online or setting up a garage sale for the stuff (especially if there are a lot of newer items, or stuff in really great condition).

Step 1: Hunt down the trash!

Whether you are working on an entire house, or just a portion of the house, I always recommend starting with the grossest things first! Find as much of the actual garbage as you can. Find food waste, find wrappers, clean up pet leftovers and pet areas, find animal traps, or insect traps, and most of all, hunt down anything that stinks!! This is not meant to be a deep search for garbage, just an overview. Most of the time you can find AT LEAST one garbage bag worth of actual garbage. You can also take the time to gather some obvious recycling, think cardboard, cans, old or expired jars in the fridge or pantry. This is meant to be quick and dirty – you know…the “get your feet wet” part of the process…hopefully not literally!!

Step 2: Zones and categories!

Now it’s time to look at your stuff with a more detailed eye. Figure out if you have any like items, or a pile of like items. Divide your working space into areas where you can gather things together. For example, put all the clothes into a bedroom, or put all the cleaning products into a laundry room, put all the dishes in the kitchen, put all the tools in the garage. Once you have everything of the same category together then it’s easier to downsize and decide which is the best item to keep. It also becomes easier to compare the most used thing (possibly good for donating) to the better quality items (maybe worth selling or keeping). This is also a good time to recruit some help because this part is mostly grunt work. It’s just moving stuff around at this point so that the sorting becomes easier. This stage is not about going through things in detail, it’s simply about making split second decisions to determine what category or zone they go best in. Try your best not to get too caught up on sentimental stuff or nostalgia factors. Place those things aside in a sentimental zone or area, so that you can give that stuff the time it deserves.

Step 3: The nitty gritty!

Now it’s time to think a bit more critically about the stuff you have. It’s time to jump in and make some hard decisions. This is where it can get a bit tougher. There are so many suggestions about what order to purge your items. We started with the biggest problem area! We had spent years determining what area of the house we were just completely fed up with, so it just made sense to start there. It was easy because we were both very motivated to get rid of stuff in that area! We needed the space back, we needed to be able to access the storage, and use it efficiently. Because it was the worst area, it felt awesome to see the progress, which propelled the further purging of the entire basement. It was a great way to build up the confidence we needed to confirm we were in fact doing the right thing; for us, the house, and the kids!

Take some time for this step. Walk through your house. Decide with your partner where to start. Together come up with a list of the top 3 worst areas of the house. The areas you most want to purge, declutter, downsize, organize – whatever it is you need done in those areas. Then decide how much of the stuff in those areas are for garbage, for donate, or for selling – that way you can better plan your attack on the stuff!

Help each other to stay motivated, and support each other through the process. It’s going to be hard. It’s going to require both physical and mental grunt work! But it’s also going to be very rewarding!

Happy Purging!

Thanks for coming home!

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