Life-Changing Takeaways from our “Great Purge”
I have a little secret… Behind closed doors, I’m a mess.
Ever think about how something as simple as cleaning up your home can be life-changing? A couple years ago I’d hired a professional organizing expert to help us clean out our photography studio and garage. Knowing what I know now, I’m not 100% sure that was my best investment. However, she did help me realize how draining clutter can be both physically and mentally. She also suggested this book.
Just a few months ago, I was in need of help again. Just in a different part of my home. What would be a grueling 2-3 week undertaking is now known among those involved as “The Great Purge.” 😉
Are you ready for a picture that makes me cringe?
Granted this was taken after traveling last week and not taking the time to unpack. However, the site of it reminded how most of last year looked for me. I was a mess. So I thought it was the perfect time to shoot and blog about how things are better. Before and After pictures coming your way… 🙂
About the Book
I went in a different direction, however, concepts from this book still applied.
Before I begin, let me say this is not a book report! In fact, I’ve only read bits and pieces of this book. I basically just skipped to Chapter 5 and read the parts I consider to be most helpful.
What resonates most with me is on p. 177 in the section “The Magic Effect of Tidying.” The quote reads: “Letting go is even more important than adding.” As someone who loves to decorate, I’m of course always looking to add things. But adding without taking away ultimately takes away my peace of mind.
The next section talks about how we gain confidence from cleaning up. At one point it dawned on me that I was embarrassed to have my friends over. The thought of someone popping in unannounced was horrifying. Now that very thought excites me. I feel GREAT about my home surroundings. And I want to believe this great feeling helps me, at least indirectly, in other areas. For one thing, I no longer have the stress of a messy house in the back of my mind.
Although it is a constant effort. The weekly goal for sure is to purge and organize.
Other key sections help us understand what we can live without vs. what’s “precious.” Another compares the cleaning of our houses to detoxing our bodies. SO TRUE! That is a FANTASTIC analogy! Dumping off bag after bag seemed to take loads off my body AND mind.
Rediscovering this book during my recent mess
You may be wondering how I allowed history to repeat itself, despite my insights from the first go-round. My best explanation is that stuff happens. If you don’t keep an eye on your stuff, STUFF really DOES happen. Meaning it can pile up.
It began last year. Last year was TOTALLY crazy. Work was pulling at me from all types of directions. I was overhauling my website, upgrading my equipment and trying to stay up on the latest trends. The side effect as a gradual but MASSIVE influx of all kinds of new materials.
The problem is that I didn’t an outflow to balance it all out. In short, I’d failed to keep my things organized and categorized. But perhaps most importantly, I’d failed to prioritize and discard routinely what I would no longer need.
Putting this in Motion
The mountain (literally) was so high to climb you might be wondering how I got started. The short answer is, I had help. And a healthy dose of desperation.
I’ll start by admitting the overpaid professional organizer was right about one other thing. It’s very effective to get a family member to help you. Even if you know the drill, it can be VERY HARD to apply the process to your own stuff. I also have ADD from hell. I also can be VERY attached to my things. That’s a TERRIBLE combination.
So with that said, thanks, little brother! 😉 You’re the best. Having a close friend and family member is indeed critical.
My brother unknowingly validated much of what I said above. He repeatedly asked two basic questions: “Have you worn or used this in the past 2 years?” and “Do you honestly think you’ll use it any time soon?” If I replied no to both, it went into the “No” pile. There would be no further discussion about it. (He’s the opposite of me. He’s a very linear thinker with one thought at a time.) If the answer to his second question wasn’t “no,” it went into the “maybe” pile. This pile helped keep things moving, and most of it ended up in the “no.” And then of course, we had a “yes” pile for things I still wear. We further separated the “no” pile into consigning, donate, and list to sell in my Tradesy store.
My late grandmother was full of euphemisms. You’ve probably heard me quote her about “youth’s being wasted on the young.” She’d also preach—and practice—the importance of having a clean & orderly home by quoting her father. “A messy room will mess up your mind.”
If you are one of those naturally organized people, I envy you! Tell me your tricks. If you’ve taught yourself how to stay on top of your clutter, tell me what works for you?
Thanks for sharing in my messy progress and visiting our site!