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!

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!  

My Shoe Storage System

Over the years I have come to realize that if my belongings aren’t kept in order, I start to forget what I have and cannot find many items when I need them. Fortunately I have a penchant for organization (some would say it is the sign of a “neat freak”to some extent), so I have developed different ways of storing things so that I can keep track of them.

I have always kept the original boxes that my fancier shoes have come in, making them easier to stack on top of each other. By 2007 I had about 50 nice pairs of shoes and was having trouble finding shoes without having to peek inside the box. In an effort to solve this, I took photos of each pair of shoes I had, printed them out and taped them onto the ends of the boxes. This turned out to be a great way of identifying as well as organizing my shoes. I also try to group shoes by color and degree of dressiness to make it easier to zero in on a particular pair I might need for an occasion.

Last year I passed the 70 mark on the number of pairs of shoes I owned, and purchased two tall storage cabinets to house them. They have made life so much easier for me! I have also established a rule, which is that I cannot exceed the amount of storage in these two cabinets. This will ensure that I don’t accumulate too much stuff, and that I don’t make too many purchases. Shoe Tower