Purging versus Organizing

In all the years I have been in this business, one of the biggest struggles my clients have is in understanding the difference between purging and organizing.

I love my collection of corkscrews, being surrounded by vintage quilts, and a pantry full of staples. I am not a minimalist. But, I have come to understand the time, energy, effort, and money that it takes to keep these items in my home. For many, learning the difference between items we need, use, want, and love, and those we don't, is a big struggle.

I've had clients who have vast amounts of stuff, and their goal in hiring me was to have those items organized. Be it by color, size, shape, frequency of use, the inventory was immaculately organized, but it never got smaller. It could be assumed that this client felt that as long as there was a place to store everything, life would be simple. It seldom works that way.

Consider this......I have a fair amount of ribbon, and I use it to make crafts and wrap gifts, and my girls use it, too. Brightly colored, wonderfully textured ribbon catches my eye when I shop, and I am often tempted to buy more. I have even found clever ways of organizing and storing it.

The truth is, I would never use that much ribbon, and it would take up a lot of space. Would it look awesome? Yes. Is it necessary? No. I have one small box full of ribbon that I adore, and it is just the right amount for my needs. When I see ribbon at the store, and I truly have no need to resupply my box, I am okay loving it and leaving it right where it is, in the store.

Another example to consider is one of books. As a former teacher, I spent a lot of my own money buying books for my classroom. Because I taught elementary, middle, and high school, I had a very wide range. Once I "retired" to be home with our children, those books filled many bookshelves in our house. If I took all the books I had, and piled them in a room, this is how I imagine I would have looked...

(No lie, this would make me very happy, but probably only for a day or two!).

As our kids have gotten older, many of the books we had in our collection for younger kids were not getting read any longer. Although very organized, they took up a lot of space on our shelves, and I was actually very sad to see them outgrown. My solution? I contacted several teachers to see if they were interested in a book donation. They gracefully accepted, and the girls and I took loads of books to our local school. The girls remarked how fulfilling it was to pass their old favorites along for younger kids to read. One of those books could possibly influence a child's life, something it wouldn't do sitting on our shelf. Every year now, we take time to peruse our bookshelves and create a pile to pass along. We have kept books that are true favorites, or have sentimental value, but we've been really good at purging our collection so that every book we have is either on our "to read" list, or one we really love.

Don't be afraid to tackle the job of purging. Start with a medium-sized box, and put it somewhere in your house, out of the way. Then, attempt to purge three items (for tips, read my blog series "3 Items to Purge Right Now," which I'll continue next week). Put those items in the box, and don't look for a week. Actually write on your calendar the day you are meant to revisit them. When you return, here are some questions you may want to ask yourself about each object...have you missed this item? Is it meaningful? Is it necessary? Do you love it? Can it go to a new home? Can someone else benefit from it more than you? If you need more time with any one thing, that's fine, just continue adding three items a week, and visiting those items a week later. Once you have made the final decision to purge, empty the box, and keep on going!

Over time, you will start to learn a bit about what you find valuable, and making decisions about what to keep and what to purge will become easier. Purging a bit at a time makes this process simple and less stressful. It IS a process, and eventually, you will notice a difference in your home, a difference you will love!

If you need help navigating your way through purging and organizing, NEST Home offers one-on-one coaching and assistance. Consultations are free, and every service is always personalized.