De-cluttering and purging have become the latest fascination in today's society. Almost everyone everywhere, is on a mission to de-clutter, purge or downsize. I believe this is due in part to the fact that there are now three generations of people downsizing and changing their relationship with 'stuff'. Millennials (born 1982 - 2004) have primarily embraced the idea of a more minimalist lifestyle; living in the moment, traveling more frequently for work (and pleasure), saving and clearing off debt and resolving not to accumulate unnecessary possessions in the process. Generation X-ers (born around 1961 - 1981) are in a time in their life where they are downsizing to smaller spaces possibly because the children have left the nest. This generation was also greatly affected by recent recessions and are now on a path to recovery and saving for retirement instead of accumulating more "stuff". Meanwhile Baby Boomers (born around 1943 - 1960) are in retirement, and some are downsizing even more as they move in to senior living communities.
So odds are you are planning to purge and downsize too. But how do you start? What should you get rid of and what should you keep?
The process of purging edits your space, removing unwanted (or unnecessary) items to leave you with items which you enjoy or need.
Let me remind you that I am by no means a minimalist nor do I encourage that lifestyle for everyone. While it is a great concept, it is by no means the ideal for many families I work with. So I came up with a simple strategy to identify items in your home which you should keep. Anything which falls outside of these categories should definitely hit the trash.
I believe items you keep should fit 2 or more of these categories: a) Valuable b) Useful and/or c) Sentimental. So you should probably not have anything which is neither of value to you, something you need, or means something to you. If the item does not fit at least one category then take a break from reading this blog and get rid of it. Ideally you want items to be either valuable and useful, valuable and sentimental, or useful and sentimental.
Lets break these categories down further.
Valuable & Useful
This will probably be the category that majority of your items fit into. Don't be daunted by the term 'valuable' by the way. Not everyone will spend half a fortune on a pair of shoes, nor is that the intention here. Of-course I encourage that whenever possible invest in quality items, but surely do so within you own budget. When I speak of value here I want you to not look at the price tag but instead think does it have value to you. A few years ago I got an old television from a friend. Although I kept it for many years because it served a purpose, it no longer held value for me as I purchased a newer television sets for my home. It became the least desired tv in my house, because it didn't have some of the features the other had. This television set would have more value and use to some else, although it no longer fit these criteria for me. So it was donated.
Valuable & Sentimental
This would include items which are handed down to you, or something which you have used, and although it is no longer something you use regularly, you have a notable attachment to. This would include for example your grandmothers jewelry or your wedding dress. These may not be items you use regularly (it's safe to say your wedding dress will not be everyday wear), but the are of value and mean something to you. For these items there is an emotional attachment and so keep it.
This concept is controversial however. Some other organizers may say if you have no need for it, get rid of it. However, I have found that we have an inherent attachment our possessions, which scientifically has been traced back our ancestors hundred of years ago. So of course letting go of things we have sentimental or emotional attachment to is extremely difficult. If you become stuck on an item, and feel you need to keep it, then do so. Revisit this item in a few months, you may find then that it is easier to make a decision to get rid of it. Sometimes it just takes some time before we can let go.
Useful & Sentimental
This would include items which are meaningful to you, and you use regularly. It could include handed down items or item you purchased yourself but they are still significant or worthwhile. It could be as simple as your favorite dress, the one you wore when you got your first job. If you love it and it remains to be an item you use then its safe to hang on to it.
However if it is sentimental but not an item you like, and not an item you would use, then consider getting rid of it. For example, that beautiful table cloth your aunt gave you, but it is absolutely hideous and you would never use it; donate it to someone who would enjoy it.
When going through your items it is best that you have an objective eye, and ask yourself hard questions; like "Will this be missed if you get rid of it?", "Will this serve someone else better than it serves me?". My final tip is, while purging, also remove duplicated items. You really don't need 4 sets of measuring cups. Find your favorite (most sentimental) and get rid of the rest.
So let me know, if these tips have been useful to helping you decide what to keep and what to purge.