top of page

How to Purge Your Stuff

summer decluttering

This weekend marks the unofficial start of the summer season, so you might be digging into storage areas of your home that haven't been touched in a while. I thought this would be a good time to write about a basic process of getting organized: purging your stuff. The truth is, you can't get your home under control if you have too much. No matter how thoughtfully you rearrange things or how many cute containers you buy, you will struggle to stay organized if you have more stuff than will reasonably fit in your space.

Purging your storage areas takes time, so get out your calendar and make some appointments with yourself to do the work. A big project like a basement or garage will likely take more than one session; if you tend to get overwhelmed or discouraged, limit these sessions to 1-2 hours.

Before you start, clear some space for five sorting categories:

  1. Keep

  2. Rehome

  3. Sell

  4. Donate

  5. Trash

These are all pretty self-explanatory with the exception of Rehome. As you go through your belongings you will likely come across items that don't belong in the area where you are working. Putting them away in their proper location can distract you from the job at hand, so instead keep a box or bag nearby to toss them into. When your purging session is complete, take a few minutes to relocate those things.

These five categories are hierarchical in terms of how much commitment and effort they require: the higher they are on the list, the more of your space, time, and energy will need to be spent on them. Keep this in mind as you start sorting.

Now pick a place to begin – it really doesn't matter where – and start placing items one by one into the five categories. Try to keep the process moving and don't spend too much time debating about each item. If you are struggling to make a decision, place it in the higher category for now. Once you've reached the end of your session take another look at your Keep pile and ask yourself the following questions about the items there:

  • Does this bring me joy?

  • Does this bring value to my life?

  • Have I used this in the last year?

  • Would I buy this again?

  • If I had to downsize would this make the cut?

  • How many of this item do I own?

  • Do I have a place for this?

  • Do I want my family to have to deal with this when I'm gone?

If you have a Sell pile, revisit those items and ask yourself:

  • How much money am I likely to get for this? Give yourself a minimum amount.

  • Is that amount worth my time and effort?

  • Will I have time to sell everything in the next month? Or set your own timeframe.

Get your Donate and Trash items out as soon as possible: bag them up and take them to your car or to the curb. Seeing space opening up in your home is a great motivation to continue purging! Also, if you let them sit, you're more likely to change your mind about parting with them.

If you found these tips helpful be sure to subscribe to the Pretty Neat weekly email! You'll get a short and sweet message each week with my best advice for a more beautiful and functional home. Click here to sign up, and you'll also receive my FREE guide: How to Get Rid of Stuff!

Make it fab!


bottom of page