Purging – Part of the Whole Process

If you have ever heard me speak, you’ll know that after the introduction I jump right into purging, “yes the dreaded purging”. Often this is an important aspect of getting organized. As FlyLady says, “you cannot organize clutter.” One of the reasons that I focus on the purging is also the limitation of space we all have. If you open a door to a stuffed closet and think that you won’t have to get rid of anything, you might be fooling yourself.

In fact, I have had a couple of clients lately who have opened their closets and told me that everything in them needs to stay. Beyond bringing in my closet guy, I worry that they think simply neatening things will somehow change the space limitations of their closet. Yet, as we dig into the closet and the items within, there are things that leave, whether it’s to the trash or for donating. It often is not a lot, but is enough to make space for what’s needed.

It’s also premature to focus on purging too much. It needs to be integrated into the entire process, something you’re considering each time you handle your stuff as part of the organization process. If you are handling something and there is no reason to keep it, get rid of it – whether it’s raggedy or no longer your taste or whatever. Sometimes it can be helpful to make a “pending” pile, a collection of the things that you’re considering getting rid of. One of the pre-teens I’ve worked with did this; we just kept adding things to it as it applied. When we had finished sorting everything, moved most of the keep items into place, only then did we revisit the pending pile. This gives you some space to let the need for a decision be set aside for a while and when you revisit the stuff you have more clarity about whether to keep it or let it go.

I’ve spoken before on how when you’re organizing, it’s gets messier before it gets better. This is also why purging is part of the entire process. You begin on a section you want to organize – you sort first. As you’re sorting, you can purge what is no longer relevant to you. If you are doing a thorough organization, you are inevitably going to need to sort it again – another time for purging. I am going to be organizing my craft room in a week or so and much of the like items are together, not all them are. I will gather them altogether and go through those like items in one fell swoop. I’m expecting that I might find some things that as I look at everything, there will be some things I will no longer want to keep. Not because I need to or “should” purge, but because as I am organizing I will discover that there are things I don’t want.

If we could make purging part of our life, it could simplify things. Imagine going to your closet to pick out your outfit and seeing a shirt (or whatever) that you don’t like, doesn’t fit, or is getting worn – and then and there pulling it out and putting it in a bag to be donated or into the trash. That’s purging too, as part of the whole process. This also means that you will be less likely to need to go through your entire closet because it’s getting too full.

Purging doesn’t need to be a process of trying to force yourself to get rid of things. It’s about considering whether those items still hold value for you; then whether you have room for them all. What are your values? Some people I work with cherish free space, the sparsely decorated space and roomy closets; others don’t care as much about that as long as they can find and get what they want when they want it. I will always make room for my books and music – these are what I hold dear. What are the things you want to make space for above others?

Remember, being organized is about being able to find what you want when you want it. It’s also about maximizing your own quality of life and what that means to you.

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