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Start with a Purge

Updated: Jan 6, 2021

When it comes to getting your home in order, it all starts with a purge.

Before you start having nightmares about strangers roaming the streets with murder on their minds though, don't worry, this one involves purging items, NOT people.

Back in 2015 we came home from an exploratory trip down south (Alaska term for anywhere in the lower 48) with the decision that we would be relocating to Oregon the following summer. Once I knew we’d be packing up our home of 7 years in 12 month’s time, I realized that we had a lot of work to do to make the process more manageable. There was NO way I was going to pack up everything in our crowded house and haul it down there with us to have to unpack and reorganize.

Hence the idea of a purge, one we now reference as THE GREAT PURGE OF 2015.

Exactly what is a purge you might ask and how does it differ from a regular decluttering or fit of organization?

In two ways, size and scope.

A great purge does not just target one area of your home, it targets your ENTIRE home.

It doesn’t just target problem areas or cluttered spaces, it targets ALL places.

Every drawer, every closet, every shelf, every storage, every box, bin, or bag.

In short, a great purge does away with every item in your home that you no longer need, want, or use.

Sound good?

It is!

Having your home filled only with the things you love or find useful is an amazing feeling!

It takes some doing to get there though, especially if it’s your first time.

For our great purge we looked at the calendar, found a week we could dedicate to the task, and my husband requested the time off work. We found a day camp for our older boys (then 7 & 9) at the local rec center and our youngest (then about 14 months) went to a friend’s daycare. When the week came, after dropping all the boys off, we returned home and began our attack.

First up was the bedroom, every drawer of his dresser, every drawer of mine, every shelf, nook & cranny was emptied of it’s contents and said items were scrutinized.

Do we wear it?

Do we use it?

Do we love it?

If it passed the test, it was neatly put back, if not, into the donation or sale box it went.

No room, closet, or storage was spared in the quest to purge our home of all that was unnecessary and we were constantly blown away at the quantity of stuff we’d accumulated over the years. Many truckloads later though, we were amazed at how different our house felt. Until you’ve purged it, you don’t fully realize exactly how unpleasant it is to have your home full of so many things you don’t need or even like. I'd spent many years constantly trying to find a place for all these things and it was so nice to realize that I'd be doing less than half the amount of work from now on to keep things tidy.

Remember that nothing is perfect though and things will build back up, so going back and revisiting spaces as you have the time and energy is important. We perform mini-purges every few months, one drawer or cupboard here and there when we're able, to help keep things in order. Don't think that just because you've done it once, you'll never have to do it again!

Below is a picture of our garage from last summer, it often becomes a catchall for everything that no longer has a place in our home and can easily become overwhelming if we don't stay on top of it. Mini-purges in different areas of our home are just part of the process of staying organized long term.

So there it is, the secret ingredient to our organized home that everyone’s been after.

Start with a purge and be as consistent as you can in continuing to cull and organize as needed.

Questions to ask yourself when getting started -

Marie Kondo says to ask yourself 3 questions when deciding whether or not to keep something -

Do I love it?

Do I use it?

Does it bring me joy?

I say those three are a good place to start, but let me add a few of my own:

Have I ever used it and am I likely to use it again?

- Be honest here, are you truly likely to use this item again? Whether it’s a pair of high heels or that cool chocolate fountain you got off a late night informercial, what are the chances?

How easily would I be able to replace it if needed?

- So maybe you aren’t sure, where do you go from there? I like to ask myself, how easily can I replace this item if I purge it? This question needs to take into account both the ease of finding the item again AND the price to replace it. If you think you might use it and it would be difficult or expensive to replace, go ahead and keep it until your next purge. Eventually you’ll either use it or be sure you no longer need it down the line and you can donate/gift/discard it then.

Do I have room to store it until I need it?

- You either know or are relatively sure you might use the item at some point, but do you have space to store it until you need it? If not, make some! If you really want it, you have to make space in your life for it.

Can you find one to borrow?

- So you think you’ll use it, but you really don’t have the space to store it, do you have a friend or family member who owns one and would let you borrow it? Or are they available to rent or borrow from a business or library nearby? We wanted to pressure wash our house, but knew we didn’t have the space to store a pressure washer in our garage and also didn’t want to spend hundreds on an item we’d use maybe once or twice a year. We ended up borrowing one from my father-in-law (who lucky for us has a huge shop and a wide assortment of tools and gadgets he’s willing to lend us) but in exploring our options we also discovered a tool library about 30 minutes away where we could buy a membership inexpensively and borrow one for up to a week at a time.

These additional questions are ones I now ask after many years of purging and have really helped me refine the process of reducing and minimize the chances you’ll end up having to replace an item you purged later on down the line. Here’s a handy flowchart to help you when you’re on the fence.

I truly hope this has been helpful for you!

Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions on how to get started :)

Happy Purging!

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