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Organizing Always Starts With The PURGE!

Updated: May 29, 2023

The professional organizing process follows a standard formula with EVERY project. No matter what room or area, the key to success is the same -- empty the space, purge (via trash and donations) or rehome items not meant for the space, sort remaining items in groups, contain each group where appropriate, and label the areas or containers so items can be easily found and returned.

elfa closet system from The Container store, shoe wall, custom closet, shoe drawers

The critical part of this process is purging. Why? Because the biggest problem in any cluttered space is that it has too much stuff in it. Depending on how many items you have crammed into the space, you may have to purge up to 50-60% to end up with a livable, manageable, calm area.

If you started hyperventilating at the thought of purging over 50% of your clutter, do not panic! Statistics show 80% of the time, people use (or wear) only 20% of items they own.

You determine what is designated for the trash, donation, or relocation to a different area of your home but it doesn't need to cause analysis paralysis. To get items moving out the door, ask yourself these questions:

  • Did I remember I owned it? If not, move it out. This isn't the time for rediscovering treasures.

  • Have I used it in a year? If not, move it out. Holding on to "what if" items (read: what if I need it one day?) will keep you in a forever state of clutter.

  • Did I buy more than 2 of the same thing because I couldn't find the original? Keep one, move the rest out. Your local community-in-need will benefit from your over purchasing.

  • Is it broken? If yes, Move it out. If you haven't fixed it yet, it isn't going to happen and adding duct tape never made anything look better. Not ever. Note: Goodwill doesn't want your broken items. Please put it in the trash or recycle bin.


The hardest work is done once you know what will remain in the designated area. From there, comes the fun part...sorting, containing and labeling which will leave you with amazing results. But for now, let's just focus on the purge.

Bring in outside help, if you have a hard time getting started. An outsider has no emotional connection with your stuff. They will help you stay focused, guide you on decision making and can either haul off your stuff or coordinate a donation and trash pick up.

They will also guide and teach you along the way to make you self-sufficient. Sometimes all it may take is one or two days working with a professional. From there, you will be motivated to tackle additional projects on your own.

I know you can do it!! A junk drawer is the perfect place to start.

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