Downsizing & Rightsizing Organizing & Decluttering Simple Home Living

How to Purge When You Want to Keep it All

So, you’ve had the realization that you are feeling overwhelmed by your belongings and you are craving the serenity in your space that comes with a major decluttering, but where do you start? If you’re feeling overwhelmed by clutter but unsure about how to get rid of it, you’re not alone. Many of us have a hard time letting go of things, even when we know they’re just taking up space and adding to the chaos. It can be especially difficult when those things have sentimental value or we feel like we might need them someday. Purging clutter and moving through those moments where you feel stuck can really be worth it. Not only will it help you feel more organized and in control, it can also bring a sense of peace and calm to your home.

Maybe now is not the time

Before we get into the details, I just want to mention that it is ok to have stuff, it is ok to not be ready to declutter or just plain not want to purge any belongings. This post is mostly for those that have decided that eliminating clutter in their space is something they want to do but don’t know where to start. I am a big promoter of moving forward, even if it is just a little bit at a time, just one small act of donating a pair of mittens you don’t wear, or throwing out that old shirt with holes, can create a forward momentum that bit by bit will carry you to completing a larger goal. Sometimes though, it is not the right time to move forward, sometimes the best choice for you is to be still. If you are dealing with a major life change such as starting a new job, mourning the passing of a loved one, going through a divorce or other major life event it can be stressful and all-consuming of your emotional and mental energy. It’s important to prioritize self care and stability during these times, and decluttering may not be the best use of your energy and resources. It is ok to just “be”.

Am I ready to tackle this?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to whether it is a good time to purge clutter. It depends on your individual circumstances and priorities. Here are a few things to consider when deciding if it is a good time to purge clutter:

1. Are you feeling overwhelmed or stressed by the amount of clutter in your home? If so, it may be a good time to start decluttering and organizing your space.

2. Do you have a specific goal in mind, such as getting ready to move to a new home or preparing for a big life event? If so, purging clutter can help to make the process easier and less stressful.

3. Do you have the time and energy to devote to decluttering and organizing? Purging clutter can be a time-consuming and emotionally taxing process, so it’s important to make sure you have the resources to commit to it.

4. Are you feeling ready and willing to let go of items that no longer serve you?

The decision to purge your belongings is a personal one, and it’s important to listen to your own needs and feelings when deciding if it’s the right time to do so. The best time to purge clutter is when you are ready and willing to take on the task. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or unsure, it may be helpful to seek the advice of a professional organizer or therapist who can provide guidance and support.

How to get started:

1.Start small. Trying to tackle your entire house at once can feel overwhelming, so start with a small space, like a drawer, a closet, even just a square foot of counter space. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and give you that forward momentum I mentioned to keep going.

2.Be honest with yourself. Ask yourself the tough questions. Do you really need or use the items you’re holding onto? Does keeping this item feed my soul or feel like a burden? Have I been keeping this item out of obligation (a gift or something passed down) or do I really actually love it?

3.If you are having a hard time letting go of an item try using visualization. How would it feel to have some breathing room on that shelf or in that drawer rather than the item itself? As they say in “The Home Edit”, you can have the item or the space, but not both.

4.Be realistic. We all have that one thing we’ve been holding onto “just in case,” but let’s be honest, how often do those “just in case” situations actually happen? Ask yourself logical questions to break yourself out of the fear mindset of purging the item and stop yourself from going down the “what if” rabbit hole. If I need this item in the future how easy is it to find in a store? When is the last time I’ve used this item? If you haven’t needed it in the past year, chances are you won’t need it in the future.

How to part with sentimental belongings

1.Letting go of sentimental items can often take some inner work. One way of getting to the core of why you can’t seem to part with an item is by making a list of all the sentimental items you have and why they are important to you. This can help you to understand your attachment to each item and whether or not it’s truly worth keeping.

2.Separate your emotions from the items themselves. It can be helpful to remind yourself that the memories associated with the items will still exist even if you no longer have the physical object. Take a photo and start a memory journal, write down your memory associated with that object then let it go.

3.Consider giving special items to others that you know will appreciate them just as much, if not more than you did. This can make things easier for you to part with if you know that they are not just sitting in storage, but will be appreciated by others.

4.If you’re having trouble letting go of certain items, give yourself permission to keep a memory box. You really need to be clear on what makes the cut though! You only have the room that the confines of the box allows, once full you may need to have a closer look at your parameters of how you decide which items are memory box worthy. Only the most special, hard to part with items should be allowed into the box.

5.When dealing with large collections it’s ok to break the collection up. Keep a couple of your favorites and find a meaningful way to honour them. Displaying it in a shadow box or in a prominent spot on a book shelf.

What if I need it later?

1.Start by reminding yourself that holding onto clutter can be emotionally and physically taxing, and can prevent you from living a more organized and fulfilling life.

2.Try to understand the root of your fear. Are you afraid of running out of money and needing to use the items later? Are you afraid of regretting your decision to get rid of something? Understanding the source of your fear can help you to address it more effectively.

3.Consider creating a “maybe” pile for items that you’re unsure about. Put these items in a box and store them out of sight for a few months. If you don’t end up needing or using any of the items in the box during that time, you can feel more confident about getting rid of them. Just make sure to commit to a date in your calendar of when you will revisit this box and get rid of items that were not used in the allotted time frame.

4.If you’re still struggling to let go of items, try to find a way to repurpose or reuse them. For example, if you have old clothes that you no longer wear, you could donate them to a thrift store or try to upcycle them into something new.

5.Remember that it’s okay to make mistakes. If you end up getting rid of something that you later realize you needed, you can always replace it. The important thing is to focus on reducing clutter and making more space in your life.

Consider this blog post as me giving you permission to let go of things that no longer serve you. Holding onto excess belongings can be emotionally taxing and can even prevent you from moving forward in life. It’s important to allow yourself to let go and make space for new experiences and memories when you are ready to do so.


The Harmonious Home, Professional Organizer and Occupied Home Staging in St.Albert, AB, Canada