Controlling the clutter and the power of the purge….

Purge: to cleanse, purify; to get rid of something undesirable, unwanted, unneeded, impure, or imperfect

Ahhh I’ve said the “P” word. Purging our clutter…….why is it so hard to do? People keep “stuff” for all sorts of reasons:

I might need it one day….
I don’t want to hurt so and so’s feelings….
I don’t want to seem ungrateful….
It was so expensive…..
Do you know how much this is worth…..
It brings back so many memories….

Yes these are all great reasons and you know what…. if you have the space then by all means organize your stuff into designated areas and call it a day. However it isn’t always as easy at that because I have found that “pack rats” will quickly fill any space no matter what the size……the “stuff” eventually overwhelms the space. At this point your stuff “owns” you and not the other way around. You need to take back the control because the one thing you have to remember is IT’S JUST STUFF! The two questions I always ask myself is “Do I use it regularly and do I love it?” If the answer is well no BUT…… any excuse from the above list here. You know what? If you don’t use it or love it, if it doesn’t make YOU happy, why keep it? Plain and simple. Why surround yourself with “stuff” you don’t use or love? This is what I like to call negative energy. Negative energy manifests itself into chaos, confusion, resentment, unhappiness, discontent, etc, etc, etc. Designate space for the things you love and use and get rid of the rest. It’s okay to give yourself permission to be happy by ONLY surrounding yourself with the things that bring you joy and provide you with function and efficiency on a regular basis.

Okay so back to the excuse list. Let’s address each one:

I might need it one day…yep thats true but if you haven’t used it in a year chances are good you won’t need it anytime soon. You have to weigh the cost between the prime real estate space it takes up and the cost to replace it if by whatever chance you do need to purchase it again.

I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings….okay fair enough….no one ever intends to do that but I would assume the person you don’t want to hurt is close to you or otherwise you wouldn’t be so concerned about their feelings and I can assure you that if they really love you they only want you to be happy. You also don’t have to tell them you are getting rid of it….besides won’t it make you happy knowing you are giving it away to someone else that really will appreciate it.

I don’t want to seem ungrateful……another biggie….it’s all about heart….if your heart is in the right place the giver will hopefully understand…you need to do what’s right for you and your family….again you don’t always have to tell them… is a popular choice for new items as well as donating items to thrift stores….take it to the thrift store in the next town if you are really worried about it….oh and don’t forget ebay….just don’t hang onto something out of a sense of obligation… only harbors resentment.

It was so expensive…..yes the ol big ticket item we just had to have and there it sits collecting dust….that happens to all of us and you know you’ll never get back what you paid for it but again you have to remember that item is taking up space in your house that more than likely could be used for something else…..which makes THAT piece of real estate more expensive than the item you are hanging onto! Think about it.

Do you know how much this is worth….it’s not worth anything if its just sitting in a box….if it isn’t something you love or use regularly get rid of it and make some money on it now.

It brings back so many memories….ahh the emotional attachment….this one is probably the biggest culprit that holds people back and so I’ve saved it for last. Our memories are so wrapped up in physical material possessions…..that isn’t where the memory is and you know it. It’s in your heart…the stuff just triggers the memory for you….so many of us are afraid we will forget. I can understand that and I suggest that you take a picture of the item and allow the picture to conjure up the memory for you instead. For example, I have kept the Woody doll my son picked out when he was 2 years old prior to going in for major surgery. Thankfully the surgery revealed that my son didn’t in fact have cancer like the Drs. had originally suspected……and so this small little Woody doll holds all the emotions that surfaced during that difficult but triumphant time. I get it. I also know that if I needed to I could part with it because it’s not what really matters in the grand scheme of things.

Another thing, pay attention to your inner dialogue. For instance, when you are dusting your knick knacks or tripping over your floor clutter and are mumbling and grumbling about it every time you do it…..why do it? It isn’t making you happy… attention to that. Just don’t keep repeating the same negative pattern over and over….do something about it.

When I do an organizing job with a friend and they really want to keep a particular item, I don’t have a problem with that….however it will almost always have to be at the expense of something else….what are you willing to give up to keep that particular item? Pretty soon what you really love and use will become apparent.

I am certainly not saying any of this will be easy. It does take discipline for sure but if you remember to start small, not beat yourself up or get too overwhelmed, you can do it. Let me know about it and I will cheer you on!

Related posts:

Making Organizing Decisions

Filed under: Clutter Control, Organizing, Purging


31 Responses to Controlling the clutter and the power of the purge….

  1. 1
    Jada says

    Oh my word! I am a pack rat, but somewhat organized. Over the last couple of months, I have been de-cluttering. And it it so freeing! I’m single, live in a 3-story townhouse, and it is full! But I am cleaning out! My family is having a yard sale tomorrow, and my brother is bringing my Dad’s truck to load up all my stuff! I used all the reasons you identified, too, for being a pack rat; but my thinking changed when I realized that for one person, I have way too much stuff!

    Thanks for your post. I enjoy your blog!

    Enjoy your day,

  2. 2
    ~Velda says

    I’m addicted to clean sweep. It made me feel guilty that I had SO much junk. I’ve done two major purges in the last year. It was hard, but I feel SO much better now 🙂 altho I still have a very long way to go lol

  3. 3
    Katrina says

    My biggest struggle (and it’s huge) is the “I might need it someday.” I don’t tend to get emotionally attached to stuff, and I don’t feel compelled to keep gifts forever… But I pride myself on my practicality – so it hurts me to throw away something I might need in the future. I’m working on this though… and realizing that it’s actually not practical to keep things I’m not using and allowing their presence to complicate my life (or cause me to have to dust more stuff!).

    Great stuff, Laura – thanks!

  4. 4
    Anonymous says

    This was a great post…so inspiring and your right.

  5. 5
    mom of 2 says

    I love it!!! My daughter has inherited my mom’s pack rat gene and it drives me nuts!! I think since my mom is a pack rat I’m the total opposite…I throw everything away! I think because I’m a thrower awayer that my daughter is the opposite…a pack rat…vicious cycle!!!

    When I help Emily clean her room we pretend we are on clean sweep. We create piles…a keep pile…a throw away pile…and a sell pile. Then we go back through the keep pile and do the same thing again because it seeme like looking at stuff a second time around makes her realize that she doesn’t need it after all!

    You are giving people some awesome tools for organization!!!

  6. 6
    Shari says

    those are great tips!
    you are an inspiration. i organized my tupperware today, and threw away over a dozen items that either didn’t have a matching lid or bottom. you’re helping me actually “see” areas that need work…(and there are a lot, LOL.)

  7. 7
    Shari says

    oh yes, the i might need it, stumps me! i got rid of 2 window air conditioner units last summer, because we were moving, and i thought they wouldn’t fit in our new house windows anyway…..
    oh my word! it was soooo hot this summer, and i didn’t have the air conditioners, (that would have fit in 2 different windows in the house.) we ended up having to buy another one, after saving up the money. yikes.

  8. 8
    Susanne says

    Awesome post Laura! Guess what I purged yesterday. My bags full of every article, newspaper clipping, magazine of Princess Di’s death and funeral. I kept one magazine and the rest went out the door! I cannot fathom why I could not let go of that stuff until now, but boy it felt good to get it out of the house!

  9. 9
    jdoriot says

    I love to purge!! I give a lot of things away through FreeCycle…that’s fun and usually there is someone who actually really needs what I have. Purge and pass on the blessing!!

  10. 10
    Betty says

    What a great post. I am working on organizing my house and you are truly help and such an inspiration. I love how you show pitcures and give written information. I also love your thought about you can keep an item you just have to have room for.

    Keep up the good posts and the encouragement. Thanks!

  11. 11
    Holly says

    Now if I could just convince my mom…

    Holly’s Corner

  12. 12
    warpie says

    Thank you Laura, I’m purging the basement rooms and cupboards and your tips are helping me purge all those wedding momentos, all I really need are my wonderful hubby and the pictures, nothing more (now if only I hadn’t asked hubby about some of it, he’s the pack rat).

  13. 13
    Anonymous says

    I’m the sentimental keeper LOL I keep everything because it reminds me of a certain time or a certain paper, I’m seriously messed up when it comes to things like that….the thought of throwing out a piece of old paper makes me cringe, poor paper….SEE!!!LOL

    Thanks for this post, it was wonderful 🙂

  14. 14
    Barb says

    I’m laughing at Susanne. I had all that Diana stuff in boxes stored away. Why on earth would I do that?

    When Rob and I relocated from the eastern slope of Colorado to the western slope, I took the opportunity to get rid of every last thing I’d been hanging onto forever. When you move, you have the opportunity to touch every single thing you own. So I looked at each thing and made a decision.

    I’m sure my neighbors thought I’d lost my mind. I’m not exaggerating here. I put 72 lawn and leaf bags of junk out for the trash. We had to pay for a special trash pickup.

    It felt absolutely wonderful. And it’s been two years since we moved and I have not missed one single thing I got rid of.

    I love being clutter free!

  15. 15
    T. Suzanne Eller says

    Hi, I want to thank you for stopping by my site and adding The Mom I Want to Be to your Fall Into Reading List. You made my day. : )Let me know what you think.

    I love your site. It’s beautiful and practical, a nice combination.

    Suzanne Eller

  16. 16
    Jennifer says

    Great post!! I went back and read the designated space one, and what a great concept–no more room, no more stuff.

  17. 17
    Mygreenearth says

    oh oh this is so me. I love it.

  18. 18
    Jen3 @ Amazing Trips says

    woo-hoo! I love the purge … we are expecting our 4th baby in the next couple of weeks and my “nesting” craze got completely out of control. Within the past two weeks, we’ve replaced our floors with hardwood, painted the entire inside of our house, installed new 4-inch baseboards and taken FIVE huge truck loads of stuff to Goodwill.

    It is SO empowering, I love having less clutter around. And because we have 2-year old triplets and live in a tiny house … we need as much space as we can get.

    Next, I’ll be tackling my photo albums that haven’t been updated in 20 years…

    Great blog!! 🙂

  19. 20
    Melina says

    Thank you, thank you! My best friend has a problem with excessive possessions and clutter and I would like to forward her this article!

    Melina xx

  20. 21
    Tater says

    Thank you so much for this insight. This is me all over. I am new wife and mother who is starting down the road to organization and blogs like yours are helping me so much.
    Today is the day of my first major purge. Salvation Army will be thrilled!

  21. 22
    Nancy- Jo says

    I love to purge. Just recently I brought 13 large recycling bags full of my past treasures and ‘stuff’ to good will. What a good feeling to get in the car, drive home and realize that the ‘stuff is gone’. Over the past few weeks I have noticed less clutter around to pick up and the kids are now getting used to putting things away because there is just MORE SPACE for things. I love it.


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