The Urge To Purge…Clutter, That Is…

Source: 123rf.com
Image ID : 36630133
Copyright : Ioulia Bolchakova

Over the decades, I have accumulated a lot of stuff, and there are many things I may never have the heart to part with, so they remain somewhere in my home, either on display or in a closet or garage shelf. However, the idea of holding onto something I am not currently using has never sit well with me, so I frequently perform purges in which I deep clean, reorganize, repair, and at times sell or donate belongings which are not being used. Since my mother’s family was notorious for being pack rats (to give you an idea, I nominated my favorite aunt for an episode of Hoarders and they were keenly interested in bringing her on, then she fell ill), I have fought against any inclination to hang onto anything which will merely take up space.

I conduct purges about 4 to 8 times per year, and this includes areas such as my garage, all closets, my kitchen, my bedroom, and my master bathroom. Strangely, even though I frequently get rid of things, I somehow still have so much stuff, and it truly bothers me at times. I guess I am not destined to lead a spartan lifestyle, especially when I hold onto keepsakes like the stuffed yellow dog which was in my crib and can still play “Rock a Bye Baby” from the music box which is nestled in its belly. However, old area rugs, candles which I never used, books I have no interest in reading again, decorative pieces which have been ousted in favor of new ones with a different theme or color story, all end up either on Facebook Marketplace or in boxes which are carted off to Goodwill.

For those of you who tend to be hoarders, especially those of you who hold onto a box because it’s a “good box” (don’t fret, I’ve done that too), it might be a good idea to enforce regular purge sessions so that you don’t get pushed out of your own home by your own clutter!

It’s All Just Stuff

Rummage sale items

This year I decided to embark on the biggest purge of my life, which involved going through all of my belongings to determine what I wanted to keep and what needed to go. I went through items in my garage which included items from my childhood which had held a certain amount of sentimental value, things I had bought in recent years that had not been used, and some of my mom’s collectibles which I held onto mainly out of guilt and obligation. Something took over me during this purge in which I decided to be rather ruthless in getting rid of items which were just taking up space. I began to truly understand that it really was just STUFF, and that my memories would not be destroyed if I got rid of some things. Based on this new way of thinking, I sold my guitars, vintage oil paintings, record albums, old toys, assorted appliances, clothing, jewelry, and bikinis. Over the past couple of months I also listed and sold many items on eBay, and as a result was able to recoup some of the money I had spent on items which I no longer had any use for. The entire experience has been incredibly liberating, like shedding old skin, and the feeling of being bogged down which I had been struggling with suddenly vanished.

I HIGHLY recommend doing a purge of stored items whenever you get a chance, not only because you can de-clutter your home effectively by doing so, but also because the process can be therapeutic. Sometimes letting go of something you have kept out of obligation or habit can allow you to move forward and grow.

An Organized Person’s Approach To Decluttering

Before After Closet 2

The images above are NOT from my house, but are great examples of a before and after organization transformation.

I often take my intense need for organization for granted and assume that other people are just like me. However, I know that this isn’t the case, and that many individuals tend to get literally and figuratively buried in their own stacks of paperwork, unfinished projects, and unused items which have sat in storage for far too long. One of the reasons why I am able to remain relatively organized on a consistent basis is because I go through every item I own several times a year and assess its value and function in my life. If it no longer serves a need, it goes to Goodwill, the trash, or a pile of items which will be part of a garage sale. I fail to see the point of hanging onto things I don’t need, because those items only collect dust and take up space. In addition, items of value which sit in storage are better utilized by being sold, because then the money can go towards paying bills or fattening up a vacation fund.

When I conduct my regular organizational purges, I move in a clockwise or counter-clockwise fashion, starting in one corner of the room. I make sure to COMPLETELY sort everything in that area before I move onto the next portion of the room. I have discovered that this method is very effective for decluttering, especially for individuals who become easily overwhelmed with the task of cleaning and organizing a space. As an example, I may start at a storage cabinet. The exterior of the cabinet is cleaned, and any items which are on top of or around the cabinet are assessed. Once the area outside the cabinet is done, I will go through each shelf in the cabinet. Whenever I assess an item, I ask these questions:

1. Does this item belong where I found it?
2. If the item doesn’t belong where I found it, and I am going to keep it, where does it belong?
3. When was the last time I used this item?
4. Is this item damaged and in need of repair?
5. Will I have a need for this item in the future?
6. Does this item have sentimental value?
7. If I decide to get rid of the item, does it have enough value to put into a garage sale, or does it belong in a Goodwill pile or the trash?
8. Is this a collectible or specialty item which requires research and appraisal?

People who have hoarding tendencies have strong emotional attachments to objects, and will have a particularly difficult time answering these questions, especially numbers 5,6,7 and 8. In their minds, EVERYTHING has some sort of value which warrants a permanent spot in their home, even if it isn’t being used.

When I conduct these semi-annual purges, I have the following on hand:

trash bags
cleaning solution and paper towels
box designated for Goodwill/Salvation Army
box for items which need to be repaired or professionally cleaned
area for garage sale items
area for collectibles to sell

Once I get started, I am pretty ruthless about getting rid of things I don’t need. To be honest, I love making money back on items I bought which haven’t been used in a while, and I also get great joy out of donating things to Goodwill. Above all, I am very honest with myself about emotional attachments to inanimate objects. There are some items I will NEVER get rid of, like the little yellow musical stuffed dog that was in my crib, jewelry my mother gave me, my Pro Card watch, and all my trophies, but I am not going to develop anxiety about getting rid of a sweater I have had for 15 years which I haven’t worn for over 5 years!

If you are long overdue on spring cleaning, now is a good time to clear up the clutter. You’ll end up with a cleaner, more organized home, you will know where everything is, and you may make some decent money selling some of your belongings!

It’s All Just Stuff: Decluttering Your Home

Creek
Despite the fact (or perhaps BECAUSE of the fact) that my mother’s family is full of pack rats, I cannot stand the idea of accumulating tons of items which just take up space. Since my mom and I had different philosophies about objects and belongings, the subject of decluttering was a point of contention between us.  My mom sequestered all kinds of things in boxes and tissue paper for decades, never to be worn or used, frozen in a static, pristine state and kept hidden. After dealing with tremendous guilt over my mother’s attachment to things which I had somehow held myself responsible for, I let it go, and was able to purge items which only collected dust in closets and the garage. I just had a garage sale last weekend and it felt GREAT to finally let go of large, bulky items such as two very traditional oil paintings which simply were never my style to begin with, and which sat in museum boxes in my garage for nine years. I also got rid of a bunch of hot little mini-dresses which I had worn during trophy presentations at bodybuilding contests from 2010 through 2013. I must have pulled about 40 dresses from my collection, all of which were only worn once or twice. It was like shedding old skin, and it felt fantastic.

One of my friends had asked me if I had ever gotten rid of something and later regretted it. There have been a few instances in which this occurred, even as recently as last weekend when I realized that a re-seller who had purchased several groups of items had gotten a few gems which I had foolishly forgotten to remove when I was organizing and displaying items for the garage sale. Though I had a moment of sadness, I let it go since there wasn’t a single thing I could do about retrieving those things. Oh well, I thought, it truly is all just stuff. There are some items I will NEVER get rid of, things which hold huge sentimental value. But for the most part, just about anything which is damaged or worn down or sitting on a shelf unused in my residence will eventually find its way into a garage sale.

If you haven’t used something in a while and it is collecting dust, get rid of it. There is probably someone out there who will use it and will appreciate it. If there is something you haven’t used or worn because you are waiting for the right occasion, either USE IT or let it go!