Just because we have the space, doesn’t mean we need to fill it.
I would not define my husband and I as hoarders; however, we have accumulated stuff through the years.
We have declared 2023 the year to purge. There is nothing more beautiful than a lack of clutter. I’m sure Jessi Bushman (Dubuque’s professional organizer) and Marie Kondo (a Japanese organizing consultant, author and TV presenter) would agree.
Mayo Clinic agrees, too. Its physicians have published articles defining how clutter increases anxiety and makes it hard to focus.
Clutter is stressful. Have you ever cleaned a room and walked in later, after it is dusted, vacuumed and redecorated, and paused to enjoy the view? I can’t help but smile when I see that beautiful site. I rarely smile when I enter my office and see my cluttered desk.
Less clutter is better for our health. It also is more profitable for the family budget if you adopt a mindset shift and a purging system.
Purging can be an intentional activity; however, it also needs to be a daily, instantaneous habit. By creating a reducing mindset, you will save money by not buying impulse items or paying for more storage, and you can earn money by selling what you no longer need.
Purging is the act of removing things from your space that you no longer want, use or need. These things could include clothing, toys, household items and decorations. Intentional purging is dedicating time to cleaning out space that has become overly cluttered.
When my kids were in grade school, I intentionally took off work the first three days of every school year. I would spend these vacation days deep cleaning and purging each child’s room. This process was therapeutic for me, and the kids never missed anything I discarded. One year, I even found $200 stuffed in graduation cards.
Instantaneous purging is removing an unwanted item when I see it. For example, as I sat and typed this article, I looked up on a desk shelf and saw a Mickey Mouse clock. We purchased this fun souvenir years ago on a family vacation. However, I no longer use the clock, and it doesn’t match my decor. I have removed it from the shelf and will add it to the purge space in my basement.
On my way downstairs, I grabbed a beautiful hand-painted birdhouse from my bathroom. This decoration was given to my son when he was young and obsessed with birds. He now owns a home, so there is no need for me to store his gifts anymore.
My purge space is a part of my system, which keeps my common living space clutter-free.
Here is what it looks like:
When I intentionally or instantaneously choose something to purge, it is added to my purge space — a counter in my basement.
About once per month, or when the counter is overflowing with stuff, a decision is made about each item. Who can I give, donate or sell it to? After sorting through everything, I have three piles:
Do something with each pile. Load the “give” and “donate” items into my vehicle, and deliver these goodies to a new home or Goodwill. Take pictures of everything in the “sell” pile, and post them on social media.
This system works great for items that I am no longer emotionally attached to. I was challenged to follow the system when I found an entire bin full of adorable art creations that my kids made in grade school. In another bin, I found photo albums full of printed photos from my high school days. I enjoy reminiscing through these pictures once every decade, so I don’t want to discard them. However, clutter costs money to store.
Create picture books. For the art creations, I will take a picture of each project before discarding it. As for the printed photos, I will pick out the best pictures and scan them. Then, I will create an organized book on an online program, such as Snapfish or Shutterfly. I don’t even have to print these books. Instead, I can keep the projects in my account or download the pictures to an external drive. This new creation will help me clean two storage bins and replace them with a 1/2-inch photo book. That is efficient and clutter-free.
Purging isn’t always easy but feels so good when a decision is made. Make this process easier on yourself by making a daily mindset and habit shift rather than a once-per-year activity. Create a system that works for you, and find one item each day this week to purge. That is a win. You are on your way to more clarity, less anxiety and a peaceful space.
Kathie Rotz is an executive leadership coach and speaker with Unity Consulting and the author of “You Have Superpowers” online learning program.