Friday, January 9, 2009

Organization: Purge, Baby, Purge!

As a friend of mine pointed out, sometimes putting everything in its place isn't enough. Often, we have too much stuff for our places!

Believe me, I understand. I am married to a pack rat and somehow we managed to breed a bunch of pack rats. I seem to remember being a little bit of a pack rat as a kid. However, we moved once or twice a year the first few years of our marriage and then started having babies both of which has turned me into a minimalist. The pack rats in the family balance me out. :-)

My guess is that the pack rats out number us by far. Here in San Antonio there has been a building boom in the last few years - many, many new storage facilities go up every year around here. And it is rare to see a garage that can hold any cars. (I do have to temper this last statement by saying that relatively new houses around here have small garages. A two car garage is one barely able to fit two small commuter cars.) Our stuff takes over!

I think it is hard when kids are small too. We not only save their art projects, but their clothes (for the next baby), their toys, the baby paraphernalia. Believe me I understand!

However, the more stuff we have, the more effort and energy we have to spend on it: we have to clean it, organize it, store it, move it around, etc. So in order to stay organized I purge several times a year. And I am always amazed at how much stuff I can cull out of a room or closet I just went through 6 months earlier!

So one of my organization "tools" is constant purging of "stuff." This is easier said than done, especially when your kids say, "Nooooooo! Don't get rid of THAT!" There are several ways to handle this. As they have gotten older, I have gotten them involved in the culling out. I tell them that we only have space for a certain amount of ___________ (toy bins, for example). They then decide what they want to keep more in order to bring the amount down to the required level. Great lesson in prioritizing.

When the kids were smaller, I would go through their stuff, throw out the trash, and put anything else in a box and see if they missed it. If they didn't miss it after a while, I got rid of it.

Another trick I've read about is to get rid of anything not used in a year. I think this is a good guideline for some things (kitchen items maybe?) but not for all. For instance, I have some clothes in my closet that I haven't worn in over a year, but that is because I can't quite fit in them yet due to the pregnancy. But I will!

So if I have an area that is getting out of control, usually it has too much stuff in it. So I get brutal. Several times a year I add charity donation receipts to our income tax file because I keep getting rid of more stuff. Over the years I have rethought whether I really need to keep something (like school papers from 3 years ago - or last year for that matter). It's actually very freeing. Cleansing somehow.

So if you don't make it a regular habit of purging your home, try it! Do one room/closet/area a month and see how freeing it is. It's so much easier to organize a smaller amount of stuff.

1 comment:

Jeanie said...

Thanks Tami,
This couldn't have come @ a better time. We are going to have to pick 1 area every so many days. We just found out we are moving in May and I am freaking out!!