One thing that is difficult to do is letting go. A lot of people feel this way not only about their relationships, but about their “stuff,” thus creating clutter in their homes and lives. Dealing with this disorganization only adds to stress and general feelings of unhappiness. In order to get an organized home, try this three step tip: purge, keep, and sell.
This is not a new concept, nor even a new tip on an old concept. While watching the TLC show “Clean Sweep,” the organizers on the show, led by Peter Walsh, would employ this system. It was custom-built for television as it provided the viewer with drama, excitement, and inherent conflict between the parts of us that want to save things and the parts that want to trash things.
The premise is simple: all the clutter needs to be separated into three piles – that to purge, that to keep, and that to sell. The pile to sell is important because, frankly, money talks. If you are holding onto something because you believe it has monetary value and no other reason, then sell it and move on. In most cases, the keep pile will be your largest after the first sort, and that is normal.
When you try to get an organized home, you have to look at things with a somewhat objective mind. If you kept everything, there would be no need to continue organizing. Even if you just had to “put away” items which keep piling up, the fact that they are piling up means they are not successfully organized in the first place.
So what would constitute an item going into one of the three piles?
A lot of people, when they work through their first sort, have what can be defined as an epiphany of sort. Most often it is in the form of, “Man, I sure have a lot of junk lying around.” Anything that you are holding onto because you sort of thought it was cute, or maybe you might be able to fix that, or that is a project for when I turn 134 years old… well, those items should most likely go into the purge pile. Broken items, trash, and outdated items just take up space.
Again, most people would have this pile be the largest pile upon an initial sort. There was a reason why you got these items in the first place. You liked them. They hold a sentimental value for you. They are practical. The trick to this pile is to examine the frequency of use. If you have a toaster oven that you received as a wedding present 5 years ago but have not removed from its box, that probably does not need to be in the keep pile. However, if that blender gets used every Saturday evening during your Jimmy Buffett parties, keep it.
A special circumstance is collectors. Collecting items often has multiple reasons to consider. There is probably an emotional component, a monetary component, and a pride component at the very least. No one is saying to discard your collections, but be realistic about them. If they are things you want to display, make sure you have an area to display them. If they are things you wish to pass along to your children, be sure they are securely and safely stored. If, however, they were a passing fad that you got swept up in, perhaps they are not as much a necessity to you now as you felt then. That doesn’t mean your time collecting them was wasted, it was the pursuit which you can collect.
A lot of people who begin organizing will discover several things that they have but never use (see toaster oven example above). Maybe they didn’t know what to do with it or where to put it, maybe they just didn’t think it worked for their lifestyle. Whatever the reason, just because it doesn’t have a place in your home doesn’t mean it wouldn’t make a good addition to someone else’s home.
Use eBay, a yard sale, a flea market, craigslist, etc. to make that sell pile go away. Not only will you be bringing in some extra cash, but it will help you get rid of some items with a little less guilt. However, be sure to have an end date for the items that do not sell. Perhaps donate them to Goodwill, The Salvation Army, or another charitable organization. It could go towards a tax write-off for you and could still help others with a need.
To get an organized home some tough decisions have to be made. The purge, keep, sell concept forces those decisions on you. Often clutter occurs because we put off those decisions. Make them in this step and the room will start to get bigger and bigger for you.
One final note, several times I have mentioned an “initial” sort. The reason for this descriptor is because most often one sort is not enough. A lot of items you are sorting through might not have seen the light of day in months or years. You may need several sorting sessions to whittle down these items. On additional sorts, force yourself to reduce the keep pile by increasing the sell and purge piles. Set goals for yourself, 10% less, half of the pile, just enough to fit in my closet, etc. These will help you focus and the accomplishment will help spur you on in your quest to getting an organized home.