We all have to do it at some time in another.
We look around that table, that desk, that box, that ROOM (for some of us, that HOUSE!!) and groan because we know that the dreaded act of purging is upon us for some reason or another. Maybe you need to have dinner on that table. Maybe you have a 150 page thesis to write at that desk. Maybe you need to transform that room into a guest room. Whatever your reason, you know the task is overwhelming. Well, in my own journey to purge my own home, I have learned a few things. Today I will share them with you all.
Before you purge:
Take a look around the room. Give yourself a point of reference of where you want to stop and start for the day. It could be a square footage, it could be a time limit, it could be a number of things. Give your self a starting and stopping point.
Plan. Break up the gigantic task into smaller ones. Don't think you have to tackle it all at once. Do a little today, then more tomorrow, and more the next day. Little by little it will add up.
Be prepared. Gather up anything you might need. Most organizers and cleaning gurus suggest having three boxes/bags to use as you purge, labeling them : Keep, Toss, Sell/Donate. I recommend adding one more to that, if it's a big job and you're in a hurry: The I Don't Know box. That will keep you from spending 15 minutes trying to decide if you really want to keep Aunt Marge's ugly bud vase or not.
Ask for help. If you aren't sure you can do it on your own, ask a close friend or family member (or two or three) to come help you. Make a party out of it, serving lemonade and cookies and playing some fabulous music!
The Purging Process
As you purge, you're going to come across things that you really don't know about. When this happens, it's good to have a list of criteria that an item has to meet in order to make it to the "keep" box. My personal list is as follows:
1) Is the item torn or broken? If so, it immediately goes to the trash box.
2) Do I have a home for this item?
3) If not, have I used this item in the last six months?
4) If not, would I use this item if it was accessible? If not, it goes to sell/donate.
5) If so, can I MAKE a home for this item? If not, it goes to sell/donate.
When the keep box is full, take some time to put all those items away in their homes. If you don't have a home for that item yet, commit to create a home for it within a time frame (I like a month). Write this time on your calendar! If you haven't found a home for it yet in your home, it's time to donate or sell it.
When the trash box is full, take it to the trash can or dumpster, empty it, and take it back to what you were doing.
When the sell/donate box is full, close it and tape it shut. If you are donating it, put it in your car right then! If you are selling, write down on your calender when you want your sale to be and commit to it! If the sale doesn't happen by the date you commit to, put it in the back of your car and donate it.
When you are done for the day, take the I Don't Know box to another room and go through it one item at a time. If you have gone through the questions and you STILL want to keep it (even though it doesn't meet the requirements) ask yourself "Do I LOVE it?". If not, then get rid of it! There's no use in keeping something you don't love and will never use.
If you find that even after all this, you can't get rid of a significant amount of items (such as a whole room or houseful), or if you can't get rid of trash items such as aluminum cans, Styrofoam cups, etc., you might consider the possibility that you may be a chronic hoarder, and might consider looking into treatment options.
Remember that Rome wasn't built in a day. It took time for the mess to occur, and it's going to take time to get rid of. But it will happen, little by little.
Now, go purge!