The hardest part about purging for me, especially purging paperwork, is being afraid that I’ll get rid of something important that I’m going to need later.
With the identity theft increasing, especially the recent Target one – come ON people, really???, I’m also a little freaked out about not knowing for sure what needs to or doesn’t need to be shredded. The whole need for hyper-privacy really pisses me off to be honest, but obviously it’s a necessary evil, so we need to take steps to protect ourselves.
To make our lives a whole lot easier, I checked in with the Attorney General’s Office and found the following information. Knowing it came straight from the horses mouths (no disrespect intended), it set my mind at ease that they’re pretty accurate guidelines,
So, print these two lists out, put them somewhere you can see them, plug in your shredder, then tear through that paperwork and purge, purge, purge!
Purge your closet. You can only avoid it for so long. Eventually it will swallow you whole and all that will be left is a pair of old bedazzled jeans and a shirt you saved in your “I’ll wear it one day” pile.
I love to be organized but the thought of purging my closet makes me want to jab my eyes out and take a nap instead. Probably not in that order. With that in mind, I was determined to find a quick way to complete this project and not regret any spur-of-the-moment decisions I made while doing it.
By the end of this post, you’ll have all the steps to purging your closet, ideas on what to do with the items you’ve purged and even a way to deal with those “I can’t make a decision today” clothes.
What You Will Need:
- 4 large containers (boxes or Rubbermaid bins). These will hold your closet items temporarily.
- Labels or sheets of paper for your containers. Get labels here: [paiddownloads id=”33″]
- Full-Length mirror
- About 1-2 hours (after you gather the supplies). Let’s plan for one hour, shall we?
With a determined attitude and your bins labeled DONATE, TOSS, NOT CLOSET ITEM and CAN’T DECIDE, it’s time to face your closet. Don’t look at the big picture, just take it step by step – shoes included.
Questions To Ask Yourself:
- Do I like it?
- Is it flattering?
- Have I worn it in the last year?
- Would I buy it today?
- Am I keeping it because of the emotions/story associated with it?
IT’S TIME TO PURGE YOUR CLOSET
While asking yourself those questions, start going through your closet items piece by piece either keeping them in place or tossing in a bin. Take no longer than 30 seconds to make a decision. Don’t know the answer? Try it on. Still unclear? Just choose a bin because we’ll address what’s in each bin after you sort your closet. This whole project could take you a short lifetime if you dilly dally. Move quickly.
Once you have made it through your entire closet, you should have far less clothing available in your wardrobe and full bins. This is a good thing.
How To Sort Clothing In Your Closet:
Hanging your clothes is the most simple way to keep everything in order. If you don’t have enough room, consider folding (or rolling) tees, tanks and workout clothing. Stack them (beware of their tendency to topple over) on a shelf or in a drawer. You don’t have to get all Martha Stewart, just do it in a way you can continue to do later on. Today may be purge day but when you are rushing through chores and you need to put something in your closet, you won’t have time for perfection. Folding tips can be found here: How To Fold Laundry Quickly.
How To Arrange Clothing In Your Closet:
This is a custom experience. How does your brain work? Would you rather have outfits grouped together? Would you rather have ‘like items’ grouped together? Would you prefer all of your clothing grouped by color? Make a decision and go with it. My closet is arranged by t-shirts, sweatshirts, dress shirts, jackets, jeans, yoga pants, pajama pants, formal pants, short dresses and long dresses.
Your bins need to be dealt with. This can be a quick process. Here are some suggestions and things to keep in mind:
- When donating clothing, keep in mind that you are doing it so other people may find a good use for your fashion. This isn’t a dumping ground. Would you give that item to a friend? If your clothes are in really poor shape, find another place for them. Perhaps you can tear up a shirt and use it to clean. If not, just toss it.
- Having a hard time parting with clothing because of how much you paid for it? Sell it on Craigslist, host a yard sale or get friends together for a clothing swap. Plan a date, meet at one person’s house and have each guest bring a stack of great clothes they don’t wear because of fit, style or because they purged, too. Each friend gets to shop the other’s wardrobe for free.
- It’s likely that your toss pile is a bunch of damaged clothing. Turn it into cleaning rags or toss ’em.
Not A Closet Item:
- Take your bin and start unloading the items into their correct places. Chances are, you’ll be organizing that room in the near future.
- A lot of times it’s hard to part with clothes that have some sort of sentiment attached, your “skinny wardrobe” or items you think will come back into style.
- Sentiment – Store these in a bin with a lid that will lock into place. When you’re ready, read What To Do With Sentimental Clutter.
- “Skinny Wardrobe” – When you reach your goal weight, would you like to pull something out of your closet or celebrate by purchasing something new or do you truly want to wear the items you’re saving? If you want to wear the items, consider how long you’ve been saving them. If it’s longer than a year (pregnancy doesn’t count, here), don’t torture yourself. Donate the clothes.
- In a year from now, pull out the “Can’t Decide” bin and see if any of your thoughts have changed.
Now that you’ve completed all the steps, take a look in your closet. Nice work! Give yourself a pat on the back, grab a drink or tell everyone else it will last all day and spend the rest of the time doing whatever you want.
photo credit: Easy Giving
I went to a Catholic school through the 8th grade. Nuns enforced rules and punishment. It was a life of rituals, uniforms, memorizing prayers and strict education. I learned piano. I made lifelong friends. I won a National penmanship award. I kissed a boy for the first time. We hid on the back of the church steps and played poker during recess. It was a life that isn’t seen today. I went on to public school and became social. I met new friends, fell in love (several times), played sports, was a cheerleader, went to prom. I loved those years. My mementos let me relive those years of being young, having a strong athletic body, not being able to imagine myself at the age I am now, and dreamed of a future that resulted in a totally different reality.
My mom was my best friend. When i married and had kids, she was who I called first to share good or bad news, get advice, or just to gossip. We sewed together once a week in our BPFC (Be Prepared For Christmas) club. We shopped. We shared recipes. Mom died on my 28th birthday, when my kids were 2 and 3. I was devastated and it took me years to feel halfway normal again. Holding on to some of mom’s stuff, in an odd way, is holding on to a piece of mom.
I married at 21. We had a good couple years of marriage that produced two great kids. His job took him in and out of town. We grew apart. The marriage ended 9 years later. That was years ago, we remain friends, and each of us are happily remarried, but the things I’ve kept from those years are tied to a marriage and time when my kids were part of a two-parent family. So I feel I need to save those things to pass on to them.
I was a single mom for most of my kids school years. It was us against the world, creating memories, tackling life head-on, and living our lives to the fullest as best we could. Although those years were a struggle financially, they were some of the best years of my life. I’m proud of the adults my children have become, and I’m proud of myself for powering through some really difficult years that resulted in the relationship I now have with my kids. The “things” I’ve saved from those years are precious to me.
So… how do you get rid of sentimental things? First of all, who says we have to? I’m an extremely sentimental person and have trouble letting go…of anything. When I love someone (or something), I love it hard! I cry easily. My kids “I love you, mom” produces a lump in my throat. Seeing the 12th man set Guinness noise level records when watching a Seahawks (GO HAWKS!) game makes me cry. Holding a baby, ANY baby, brings tears to my eyes. I’m a sentimental hot mess. So I’m sorry to all the minimalists who advise getting rid of sentimental clutter because they’re just “things”, but there are just some things I will NOT and CANNOT let go. I say, if you’ve got the room for it, and it means something to you, keep it.
I do agree, though, that saving everything that holds a memory can get out of hand. So here are some ideas for choosing what things to keep, uses for the things you save, and minimizing the space needed to store those things you can’t let go of…
Elementary school artwork and projects, report cards, detention slips, essays, etc. Letters, cards, and notes.
- Pull out your favorite few, or one item for each school year. If you can’t dump what remains, pack them all in a storage container and label it. If you don’t revisit that storage container in the next few years, throw it away without looking through it again, or ask your kids if they’d like to have them.
- Take pictures of your favorite ones. Store the pictures on a disc or jump drive. Make them into photo books and gift them to your kids.
- Make a scrapbook or shadowbox.
Your wedding dress, the bunting your baby wore home from the hospital, the t-shirt you bought in Mexico, your grandma’s pillbox hat, your cheerleading sweater, your dad’s favorite belt buckle, your favorite jeans from four sizes ago.
- If they make you happy, turn them into display pieces. Make a shadowbox with pieces of these items grouped with pictures of you/them wearing them. Turn all those memorable t-shirts into a quilt.
- If you’re saving clothing you hope you’ll fit into again, GET RID OF THEM! Although they may be holding on to them for motivation, I don’t know about you, but if I get back down to that size, I’ll be celebrating by buying NEW clothes!
Your grandma’s china, your dad’s favorite belt buckle, the framed picture of your great-aunt, your mother-in-law’s wedding ring, your mom’s old cookie press.
- Use it. Even though these are close to your heart, they are just “things”. Things are meant to be used. Memories of those things will remain with you forever. So, use grandma’s china. If you break some pieces, it’s okay. Mom would get a kick out of you struggling to make spritz cookies using her old cookie press, and you KNOW she’d be okay with you eventually replacing it for a new one.
- Display it. Hang that old picture of great aunt Hilda. Pull out other vintage photos of relatives and group all these together on a family wall.
- Wear it. Have dad’s buckle shined and polished. Wear it yourself or give it to your brother, husband, son. Use it as an embellishment on a purse or clothing. Wear the ring on a chain, or take out the stones and have it reset in a more modern setting.
Don’t let anyone guilt you into getting rid of things that are important to you. Give yourself as much time as you need to let go. I feel that allowing yourself moments to relive and revisit memories can be healing. It can ground yourself by giving you a chance to revisit your past and pat yourself on the back for the progress you’ve made. It can remind you of plans you had for your future, and inspire and re-motivate you to attain those dreams.
I say that if you’re thoughtful about which items to keep, take steps to preserve them properly, and organize and label any containers where they live, if you have the room to store them, then do it. Who are you hurting? I don’t think it means you’re living in the past. It’s true that these things are just “things”, but things, just like smells, taste and touch, can morph you back to a memory or a time that is close to your heart. My mom touched that sewing pattern, studied it over a cup of coffee, made notes on it, and was excited to start sewing it once we were all tucked away in bed. My kids held the crayon that colored that picture of the three of us, carried it home from school and proudly handed it to me with their little 1st grade hands. I’ll be damned if I’ll let those things go.
Am I wrong?
I have a cabinet full of recipe books but over time, I’ve collected random recipes from Pinterest, family members and magazines. I was shoving them into a folder because it looked organized. The problem was that every time I went to find something it was useless. I spent more time digging and then reorganizing into a folder than cooking the actual meal.
In keeping with the purging theme and respecting the fact that we all have about zero extra minutes per day, this recipe organization is quick, efficient and costs very little.
My recipes were gathered in one hot mess.
Then I stacked them in piles. The key to organizing anything is putting “like” with “like”. What do they have in common? Here, I stacked in recipes labeled chicken, pork, fish, salad, etc.
Now I need something to put them in. Ah, a binder with tabs to separate the types of recipes (the piles). I also grabbed some page protectors (not pictured).
Done deal. Just like my jeans, this binder can’t take one more recipe. I should have purchased a much bigger binder and another set of tabs. I also want white, not green. But, hey, this was a quick project so I can quickly access my recipes. Maybe later in the year, I’ll pretty it up. For now, I’ll eat.
TIP: Add extra page protectors to the binder so when you add to it, you can easily slip the new one in the correct place.
Aaaaand, the amount of time the project took (including Instagramming a picture) and grabbing not one but TWO drinks for my son, starting a movie and digging Play-Doh out of his dump truck was:
A 5-year old threw off my game. I mean, seriously. He gets thirsty while I’m working? The nerve.
Will this work for your recipe collection?
Note from Tawsha:
Each time I dive into an organization-type project, I have these big beautiful plans that, in the end, aren’t realistic. I want a great end result that is pleasing to my eye but not at the expense of losing efficiency – the reason I started the project in the first place. I see it everywhere and I, too, want a picture-perfect result. Well, for us, it’s just not the truth 100% of the time and we won’t hold back if it’s not perfect. We’re committing to offering a realistic approach to creating structure and order in life. We’re busy, you’re busy and none of us are made of money.
Your comments and feedback have been awesome. We will continue to strive to be true to you, true to ourselves and not just go for the pretty picture each time we post a new blog. Your trust is important to us.
THERE’S PAPER EVERYWHERE!!! Oh my gosh, how many piles and stacks of paper do you have that are creating absolute chaos in your life? For a short amount of time, I had control of it but that was blown out of the water in a hot second.
Yep, that’s how my son’s schoolwork looks. What started out as a neat filing system near the door turned into a hot mess that I just threw into a box hoping to do something with. I didn’t want to lose anything so it’s all inside from August – January. My first organizational idea was something I saw on a “perfect” site. I call it that because it’s just not realistic. I wanted to have all the cute little cubbies and a filing system near my door but then life happened. My son bumped it, I needed more counter space to function in our kitchen and, really, things just got full.
On to the next idea.
Keep it simple.
Steps to Purging Paperwork:
See What You Have
Decide How to Store It or Display It
Create A System
Before you even get started, set a time limit. If you know how much time you plan to spend on it, you’ll feel more in control and will get through it more quickly.
1. Prep & See What You Have
- Find an open space that won’t be interrupted while you work on your project. (I know, the chances of winning the lottery are better).
- Gather all the paperwork, homework, artwork, notes from school and any additional school-type papers into your open space.
- Sit down on the floor and start making piles. Each pile should signify an action. See image above and download printable if you want something quick.
- Sort everything no matter what it is. Create a new pile if you’d like. Each piece of paper should be living in a stack by the time your’e complete.
2. Take Notes
Whether you do this during your sorting process or go through afterwards, make little notes on each significant piece. Maybe it’s the first piece of art your son brought home or a certificate your daughter won for doing something silly. What was it that she did? With life as nutty as it is, we tend to forget the little things. These are the most important when we’re looking back.
3. Decide How To Store It or Display It
There are a lot of great ideas for storing paperwork and/or artwork. We’ve found some extremely quick, cheap and easy ideas.
We filed my son’s paperwork in a simple snap-together bin from the office supply store. All we added was hanging file folders.
Brooke at the Design Stash created a Yearbook Binder. Um…how genius is this?!?! Tuck everything inside however it makes sense to you and decorate with your kids artwork.
Before filing things away, you may want to put that adorable artwork on display.
Andrea at Life.Love.Larson is genius! How about tension rods with curtain rings that have clips? We’ve seen this a variety of ways but none as great as seen on Life.Love.Larson.
Feeling a little Pinterest-y? Grab old picture frames, glue clothespins or clips to the top and spray paint them to make the frames pop.
Or fill one frame with up to FIFTY pieces of art!
4. Create a System
So you don’t have to go through this process every six months, decide what works best for you to stay organized. Inform the rest of the family and get started. Our system works best when my son brings his backpack in the house, empties the papers on to the counter and I sort into open filing shelves. That’s the quick way. If I have a free minute (literally 60 seconds), I’ll run it upstairs and immediately put it in the corresponding file or recycle it.
Life gets in the way. Always. Be sure to circle back around if you see your pile start to grow. System or not, we tend to prioritize differently throughout the year and, all of a sudden, this paperwork isn’t at the top of our list like it is now.
You know that stack of papers you labeled “Still Thinking/Unsure”? It’s time to see if you still feel this way. The end of the school year is a good time to do this follow-up process. After you have finished this final step, store the paperwork away.
January is National Get Organized Month. It’s time. This season my excessive-ness has finally gotten to me. I have purged my house hundreds of times in the past, but I still continue to hold on to certain items, or piles of items, for one reason or another. I’m a hugely sentimental person, so letting go of anything that is connected to a memory is really difficult for me. That’s my biggest purging downfall. I have finally become so tired of arranging and rearranging all my “stuff”, that I think I just may be able to put on those big girl panties, don a pair of those bad-ass yellow Playtex gloves, and overcome my biggest purging downfall by finally cutting that stuff loose.
I discovered I’m not alone in this. There are a lot of reasons that keep us from tossing the things we don’t use, and a majority of them are based on fear. Below is a list of the most common reasons people have given for hanging on to their stuff. I was surprised at how many of them I had heard myself give as an explanation for re-storing a box instead of chucking it.
Through the rest of this month, we’ll offer suggestions for ways you can overcome whatever emotion it is that’s keeping you from Cutting. The. Crap.
“I may need it some day”
“I’m afraid of running out of them”
“I may not be able to afford a new one when I need it”
“I’m going to do something with this”
“I’m saving it to put in my yard sale”
“I’m going to sell this on Etsy/eBay”
“It brings back memories”
“I’ve always loved this”
“But it still works”
“I paid a lot of money for it”
“I got it free”
“It’s perfect to put things in”
“It was on sale”
“It’s a collectible”
“Someday it will be worth something”
“It was a gift”
I know, right? Did you hear yourself? Are you ready to purge, but don’t know where to begin? Click HERE to get started.
To purge along with us this month, you can get email updates every time we post new information by creating a free Bloglovin’ account. It’s simple. Click HERE to get your updates.
If, at any time, you have questions, a special request or need more, please CONTACT US. We love hearing from you!