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Purge Your Home 11 Ways to Lose the Clutter

Life Balance

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By The Women's Conference

Yes, it’s that time of year & you know what you need to do.  Get rid of all the stuff that’s cluttering your closets, your drawers, your car – in short, your life.  Think you’re simply too busy and don’t have the time?  Can’t bear to part with so many beloved items despite the fact that you actually haven’t used them in years?  You’re not alone. 

So here’s a sure-fire way to make Spring Cleaning 2010 less daunting.  Starting this weekend, choose 10 items and put them in a box or bag to be donated, thrown out or recycled.  Only 10.  You can do that. (If you get carried away & do more, good for you.) 

If you need some help as you work your way through your belongings, apply the following criteria.  And be brutal in your assessments.

  1. It doesn’t fit.  You may want to do a little fashion show and enlist a friend who can gently remind you that your body has changed, your weight has shifted or whatever euphemism works. (Donate to a local nonprofit that provides clothes and accessories to the unemployed for job interviews.)
  2. It’s out of style. We all hold onto things thinking they’ll come back in style. But face it - by the time it comes back, you’ll be old enough to look preposterous wearing it.  (Again, donate to the organization of your choice.)
  3. It’s ugly & not your taste.  This is the stash of presents – jewelry, nik-naks, accessories -- that may not even be worthy of re-gifting. They must go. Exceptions are made for small items from family members that can be displayed only when they come visit. (Your eyesore may be someone else’s treasure. Donate.)
  4. It’s obsolete…and will never qualify as a cash-generating collector’s item in an Antiques Roadshow kind of way.  (You can try to sell it on Ebay, but keep your expectations low.)
  5. It’s a duplicate.  How many leftover containers, glasses, blankets and cheese graters do you need?  (Find a cause you care about and donate – from domestic violence shelters to pet shelters, think about who might be able to re-use these items.)
  6. It’s gathering dust.  Books, tapes, CDs, DVDs…anything that you’re holding onto that you’ll never read, listen to or watch again. (Donate them to a local school, shelter or library.)
  7. It should have sentimental value…but doesn’t.  (Seriously - you really won’t miss it when it’s gone.)
  8. It’s broken & not worth fixing. (Proceed to the trash or recycle bin.)
  9. It’s broken, worth fixing, but you will never do it. (Goodwill, Salvation Army or other charities may be able to make it useful again for someone who needs it.)
  10. It’s expired.  First hit the bathrooms & take a look at all of your potions, lotions, prescriptions and vitamins. That pain killer from your 1998 root canal needs to go.  Then hit your kitchen. Same drill with date-expired foods.  (If there are canned & packaged foods that are still OK, but you bought for some unknown reason, give them to a local food bank.)
  11. It’s useless.  You’re not even sure what it is.  (Definitely trash or recycle.)

Once you’ve got your 10 items, repeat this process every week until you feel truly unburdened. At the end of your purge, you’re allowed to remove one – just one – item from the pile that you really can’t part with.  Get the rest out of your home and do not procrastinate.  You may discover that you suddenly have more space in your home.  Your challenge: not to fill it with more unnecessary stuff. If you get tempted, apply this rule: Are you buying something just because it’s on sale? Because it’s almost your size or ironically kitschy? If so, it will probably spend a lifetime at the back of your closet, taking up precious space. Don’t be tempted. Good luck.

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