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February 12, 2014

Tips for Purging Your Home

In a previous post, I shared with you that we consistently purge items from our house.
What does this mean? Well, I realize this will look different for each family, but today I want to share some tips that we live by in our house - ideas that hopefully encourage you to say goodbye to the clutter and embrace the freedom that comes with purging the unnecessary. 

Tips for Purging Your Home
 Purging Tips

Let me warn you before we get started...our approach may seem brutal to some, but please understand that hoarder genes run STRONG in our family, so in our home, we fight clutter with a vengeance.

Now, on to the tips...

We sort and toss junk mail immediately - There is not a spot for it to sit. It is taken care of on the spot. If a business or individual is repeatedly sending junk mail our way, we call or e-mail and kindly ask to be removed the mailing. This does not always guarantee that we won't hear from them again, but oftentimes our request is honored.

We do not house media - games. Most anything we listen to or watch is in digital format. Therefore, an entertainment center is not needed. Which means I do not have to dust an entertainment center. Are you following me?

We do not keep catalogs or magazines. We like to browse magazines using Zinio. If we happen to have a hard copy of a magazine (which is rare), we immediately toss it or pass it on after we have finished reading it. If there is something in it we want to remember, we snap a picture of the page and file it on the computer.

We do not keep [very many] books (including old textbooks, completed Bible study workbooks, cookbooks, etc.). There are a few books that have literally changed my life. These [less than a dozen] books can be found on the bookshelves in our study, but all other books - after they are read - are purged. I am not one to read [very many] books more than once, so there is no need for me to hold on to the books I read. I may take a snapshot of any interesting thoughts, inspiring quotes, etc. (and file the image away on my computer) but the books do not stay in our house. I do not take the same approach with children's books - We have plenty of those as they serve a very different purpose in our home.

We do not collect knick-knacks. Therefore, I do not have to dust knick-knacks. For the sentimental mementos that are incredibly meaningful, I have loved this idea for organizing and displaying collections.

If a clothing item is not being worn, it is removed from the closet. I stay ON TOP of this with my clothes...and the kid's clothes. As far as my husband's t-shirt collection goes...well, let's just say that it's a work in progress.

We are very selective about holding on to our kids' artwork. Special pieces are put on display or filed away with their individual mementos. but there are also times when I may or may not snap a photo of of their project (with plans to include the image in our family yearbook) and toss the creation.

We do not keep broken crayons, toys/devices that don't work, worn out/stained clothing, etc. While these seem like obvious things to part with, keeping up with this type of thing can be a full time job, and not everyone is willing to do it. However, in order to maintain a clutter-free home, it is a must. The sentimental side of me wants to wrestle with this sometimes, and while I may never part with the outfit my boys both wore home from the hospital, you will most definitely not find bags and bags of baby clothes stored in our attic. I love these thoughts from Mix & Match Mama's post about Organizing, Saving, and Donating Your Kids' Clothes:

Yes, their stuff is cute.  Yes, I have vivid memories of how precious they looked in it when they were babies.  Yes, I think back to those wonderful times and I cling to the knowledge that I remember the day I bought it at Baby Gap and then the days that they wore it and it was so sweet blah, blah, blah...but the bottom line is that at some point, all of these baby/little kid clothes are going to be someone's problem/junk/precious garage space, so I might as well clean it out now, give it to someone who will truly appreciate it and use and move on.

When I say that it will eventually become someone's problem/junk, I rationalize it this way...
If Andrew's mom showed up at my house one day with bins and bins of Andrew's baby and kid clothes and told me she had been saving it for 32 years and wanted us to have it, I would be irritated.  What am I supposed to with his baby stuff?  I don't need it.  I'm not sentimentally attached to it.  It would be in my way.  And then, I would put it in the garage and it would be in Andrew's way.  And we would both consider it junk.  (And let's say she kept it at her house until she was gone...when that day arrives, Andrew and I aren't going to be interested in any old baby clothes...we'll most likely be 65!). 
  I don't want my old baby stuff.  I don't want Andrew's old baby stuff.  I am so thankful our moms didn't hang on to it because it would have been wasted on us.  This is why I donate and don't save...because I know that one day, Kensington and Smith (and their spouses) don't want their old Gap onesie taking up precious garage space...but some people right now, do want those onesies and will be thrilled to have them, so I feel like I'm making better use of these items now and not hoarding them for the future.

We do not order large quantities of photo prints. If I order a print, it is destined for a picture frame or used in some other kind of project - period. All photos are stored digitally and backed up 189,765 times.

We rarely go to the mall. Want to know the way to maintain a clutter-free environment? Buy less stuff.

We rarely browse online shops. If there is something specific we want to buy, we search that item only and buy it [alone]...usually on Amazon.

When it comes to the kitchen, that could be an entirely separate post, but let me sum things up by saying this: Get rid of anything you don't use. & One more thing: you don't need two mixers...or a back-up toaster...or three different sets of holiday dishes...or 12 muffin tins...unless you own a muffin-making business, and then you would get a pass on the muffin tins.

We do not keep everything that is gifted to us. We return. We re-gift. We sell. We donate. We Around the holidays...when asked what we would like for Christmas (for example), we encourage gift cards, vouchers for experiences, etc. Very few honor this request, but the point is that we really, really, really don't need more stuff.

Need some creative ideas?
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We do not store other people's memories. Oftentimes friends and relatives - with good intentions - will try to give us things we don't want. These items may hold great meaning to an individual, but they mean nothing to us. When offered these kinds of things, we kindly explain that we don't have a space for the item(s). This is not always met with a sweet response, but if you're committed to remaining clutter-free, you will be willing to set some firm boundaries - even in these tricky areas.

You may be thinking that remaining clutter-free takes an incredible amount of time. It does take time. However, in the end, we save time - because we are not constantly having to sift through an overwhelming amount of stuff, losing/searching for stuff, cleaning stuff. It works for us.

Living with clutter raises anxiety levels, creates feelings of guilt, and requires some level of justification or denial that saps mental energy from more productive pursuits. Clutter is distracting. Clutter sabotages concentration. Clutter does more than crowd your closets - it clouds your thinking as well. - Unknown 

If you've followed the blog for very long, you know that I am a couponer and a thrift store/garage sale junkie. When I coupon, I buy items that will be used up - food, household products, baby supplies, etc. - never things that will sit. 

When I bargain shop, I buy items that serve a specific purpose. If I see something that I love but we won't use, it does not come home with me unless I have an outlet to resell it and make a profit (which is a fun little hobby of mine!).

What ideas do you have for keeping your home clutter-free?
Remember, big results start with small changes...

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like to read
Taking Steps to Declutter where I share some of my favorite tips and resources! Have you heard about the capsule wardrobe? I share a little bit about that here.