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It seems like the tides are finally changing and it’s the cool thing now to live a minimalist lifestyle. Whether or not you’re ready to jump on that bandwagon, there are huge benefits to purging your belongings down to only the things you actually use and love.
This is a huge undertaking and can be a very emotional one! It’s really tough to part with something that you’ve been holding onto for a long time. Trust me when I tell you that it is almost therapeutic once you get started! My husband and I started purging our items when we moved into our home just 8 months ago. It’s been a long, drawn out process, but so far we’ve purged about 50% of what we own. Well, owned.
At some point, it starts to feel like your stuff owns you. Now, the things we have are things that we actually use, value, and feel deserve a home in our very limited space.
An extra added benefit of purging is that it literally adds more time to your days, especially your weekends. Without realizing it, all of our extra and unnecessary things take up huge amounts of our time. It takes time to clean things, organize things, rearrange things, store things. If you’re like we used to be, you may even be paying for a storage unit – so not only are your possessions costing you time – they’re costing you money.
Have I sold you on purging yet? It can be overwhelming to say the least (especially if your reasoning is “I might wear that someday” or “as soon as I throw that away I know I’ll need it!” like me) but by just breaking your house down into small, manageable chunks, you will notice a huge difference in no time. I promise!
Here are some purging tips and tricks to use when you start your own purging process:
First, just start! I know it sounds ridiculous, but if you’re ever going to get anywhere, you have to take that first step. I always tell myself the same thing – How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Weird analogy for a vegetarian like me – I know, but it works!
Start by getting some motivation. Take one drawer and go through it – be ruthless! Get rid of absolutely everything you don’t need or use on a regular basis. Put everything back neatly so you are staring at a beautifully organized drawer full of only things you need or love. Your whole house can look just like that! Let’s move on to the biggest problem areas for most people. Remember, one bite at a time!
This was a big one for me. I had way too many clothes in my closet, dresser drawers that were overflowing, and still more clothes in storage.
Here’s a great tip. Turn around all of the hangers in your closet. Only turn them the right way when you’ve worn, washed, and re-hung the item. At the end of the season, any hangers still facing the opposite way contain clothes that can be donated.
If anything has a stain, hole, a missing button…get rid of it. If you haven’t fixed it by now, you probably don’t value the item enough to put the time into repairing it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for repairing the items you have so you don’t end up buying new ones. The truth is though, that you probably have way too many clothes anyway and those stained t-shirts are better used as rags than as space-stealers in your drawers. Trust me.
You don’t have to wait until the end of the season to purge your clothes! Anytime you’re putting away laundry is a great time to grab a couple of things that you no longer wear to pass on to someone who might need it. We keep a simple garbage bag in our closet to fill with clothes to be donated. You’d be surprised how quickly it fills up just because we have somewhere to put it!
I realize now that I avoided donating clothes for so long because it was too much effort to grab it out of my drawer or closet and then find an out of the way place to put it until I could take it to the car…it was just easier to let it take up space in my closet. Now that there’s a temporary home for all of my unwanted items, I find something almost every day that I feel like I can live without.
Socks too! If they don’t have matches, they become rags or they get thrown out!
Get rid of all duplicates
I don’t know how it happens, but somehow we end up with multiples of everything. The amount of measuring cups I’ve managed to collect in my life must be some kind of record. The kitchen seems to be the place we end up with the most duplicates in our house. How many pieces of silverware do you really use at once? Better yet, how many Tupperware bowls with no matching lids do you really need?
My husband had the great idea of getting rid of all of our extra plates and bowls. Now, we keep only four of each and store a couple more for when we have guests. This has DRASTICALLY cut down the amount of dirty dishes we have. Instead of grabbing a new one if there’s a dirty one in the sink, we have to wash a bowl to use one. This makes my post-dinner dish washing go so much faster.
Go through your house with a critical eye and get rid of anything you have more than one or two of. This doesn’t just work in your kitchen. I recently got rid of a white sundress because I had two others hanging in my closet. If ever I am in desperate need of a white dress, I’m pretty sure I’ll only be wearing one at a time anyway.
A place for everything and everything in its place.
If something doesn’t have a place in your home, it must go. Actually hold an item and ask yourself where it makes sense for this to go. If you truly can’t think of a spot for it, let it go and donate it to someone who may need it.
I do this every single time I tidy up our house. If I have to really think about where something goes, it probably shouldn’t go anywhere but the donation pile.
Banish single purpose gadgets!
Get rid of gadgets you don’t use often. We recently gave our Keurig to my mom because we never ever use it and the thing is huge! It took up way too much precious counter space. Also, immediately make a rule that things that serve only one purpose should be exiled and never allowed back into your house.
This includes things like donut and donut pop makers, soft pretzel makers – anything that really only serves one purpose that doesn’t get used often at all. Unless you’re using these appliances on a regular basis, it’s probably not worth the space to store it.
If you use makeup, chances are, you have too much. Go through all of it and get rid of or donate anything that you don’t actually use.
I used to have at least 50 nail polishes. Almost all of them separated into that nasty yellow oil and had obviously not been touched in years. I now own maybe 10 – maybe. I could still probably purge this down even more.
Stop storing things you don’t actually use! Get rid of any makeup that is the wrong shade for you or that you’re keeping just because you found it on a good sale (this is absolutely a huge weakness of mine!)
If I have extras that I know I’ll actually use, I put them in a plastic shoebox and pull them out to replace items that I’ve used up. I only keep the makeup in my bathroom now that I use on a daily basis. Everything else is stored neatly in a closet.
Ruthlessly purge paperwork! Don’t even put mail down on the counter when you bring it home. Go through it over your garbage can or recycle bin and throw away every piece of junk mail, every coupon for stores you don’t go to frequently (even if it’s a GREAT coupon…Are you really going to use it before it expires?), throw away every advertisement. What you’re left with should be statements and miscellaneous bills, maybe some cards if you’re doing this near a holiday or birthday. Quickly make a plan for each one and make a stack of “to file” and “to pay.”
I know you’ve heard this tip before. It’s an oldie but goodie that takes about 2 minutes of our time every day. It has made the biggest difference in paper clutter in our home. We no longer have stacks of paper waiting to be sorted. Every piece of paper we have now is either to be filed or requires some action on our part (like paying a bill).
Put all sentimental “paper” like cards and pictures into a storage bin of their own. Be picky about what you keep, but some sentimental items are simply irreplaceable.
My goal now (because paper clutter is the biggest untamed animal in our house other than our 16 month old) is to file all paperwork every week and pay all bills every 2 weeks when my husband gets paid. That’s it! If that system doesn’t contain our crazy mail monster, then we still have too much paper and need to reevaluate even further. This time, the mailbox might be the next to go!
Go through your refrigerator and cabinets on a regular basis and check expiration dates. Don’t be afraid to donate items that are still good that you know you’ll likely never use.
A good time to do this is anytime you go grocery shopping. Come home and before putting any item away, spend about 5 minutes scanning through your refrigerator for leftovers that have been shoved to the back and forgotten about or condiments that are now past their use by date.
Do the same thing with your cabinets and dry food storage! Purge any item that isn’t likely to be used within the next month. If you don’t value it enough to cook it up in the next few weeks, you don’t value it enough to give it valuable cabinet space.
If you have little ones, you know how quickly their toys and equipment can take over your home. Donate or put away anything that is no longer age appropriate. It’s also a good idea to keep toys on a rotation so your kids don’t get bored playing with the same things over and over again. We have a giant toy box that our son can’t use effectively by himself yet. We pull out various toys for him and they’re always a hit. The next day, we pull out different ones.
Since we’re expecting baby #2 any day now, we’re not putting away the toys that our son doesn’t use anymore. We’re simply storing them out of the way until Dumplin’ is here and old enough to enjoy them.
I’ve accepted the fact that our house will be one big playroom for our kids for the foreseeable future, but at the end of every day I make a point to put all of the toys back in the kids’ room. This keeps our house from feeling like a daycare and lets us feel like adults at the end of the night when it’s time to wind down.
- Get determined to stop letting your “stuff” control you by simply having less of it. Less is more!
- Go through all clothes and keep only what you wear and love
- Get rid of all mismatched socks and clothes with imperfections
- Get rid of all duplicate items
- If an item doesn’t have a space in your home, either find one or it must go!
- Get rid of all single-purpose gadgets and novelty items that you don’t use regularly
- If you have make-up, go through it and keep only what you use on a daily basis. Get rid of all excess
- Open mail over the recycle bin and deal with it immediately. Recycle all ads and junk mail immediately before they take over. They will if you let them – I promise. We’re still recovering from the paper avalanche that was my early twenties. Don’t be like us. Get rid of it all now!
- Every time you grocery shop, come home and purge expired food or food items that you know you aren’t likely to use before you put your new groceries away
- Donate toys and books your kids are no longer using or put them away for future children
- Don’t ever stop! Purging is an ongoing process, but it’s so worth it!
That’s it! Sounds simple enough doesn’t it? I can’t stress enough that the only way to purge is to actually start purging. If you’re inundated with excess stuff, there’s never a good time to simplify it down to just what you need because there’s just never enough time. You are never going to have enough time to start such a massive undertaking. That’s why you give it 5 minutes a day or every few days until one day you wake up and your house is completely purged of everything you don’t use and love.
We’re finally at the end of our purging journey and I can promise you it’s so well worth it! Our house is now a haven that we look forward to coming home to and we always compliment each other on a job well done reorganizing and putting together the home that we love.
Your homework for today is to spend 5 minutes purging something. Anything! Pick a drawer, a corner, or a whole room if you have enough time, and get rid of as much as you can!
Have you ever purged your home of things you don’t use? How do you keep your possessions from getting out of control again? Share your tips in the comments!
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