Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Honestly, You Don't Need That Stuff

In preparing for my move from Arizona to California, I became overwhelmed by the sheer volume of items I owned.  My closet was packed with clothing, shoes and bags.  I couldn't keep my jewelry contained to one organization system.  I had craft supplies everywhere - literally, everywhere: my craft storage cubes, the storage closet, my bedroom closet, my nightstand, in a bin next to my couch - everywhere.

Now, that's not to say I wasn't organized.  I could find everything I wanted in a snap.  Crafts were in nicely labeled bins. My clothes were hung via the visible spectrum. Jewelry was grouped together by type and style.

However, simply being clean and organized wasn't sufficient anymore.  I had to face the fact that I had too much stuff.

Thus began the Great Purge of 2015.  I call it that, but to be honest, it wasn't monumental.  I didn't put all of my stuff on Craiglist and start fresh like I was joining the Peace Corps or something.  Nor did I touch my two very full bookcases of books {psh, why would I do that?!}  Instead, I took a very practical approach to significantly reducing my items.  Here's how.

In the past, my approach to clearing out items has been answering the question "What don't I want anymore?"  This time, I flipped my approach on its head.  The question became:

What do I want to keep?

By asking a positive, permissive question, I was taking a more active role in the decision making process.  Previously, when I asked, "What don't I want anymore?" I was identifying what I was willing to give away and thus, being passive about everything else.  By asking "What do I want to keep?" I was actively identifying the items I wanted to keep in my life, pack and move.  Plus, it didn't feel like I was giving things up.  Basically, I was shopping my own stuff.  And it was amazing!

So, let's get real.  Are you ready for your own purge?  Let's get started.

1.  Does it fit?  Does it reeeally fit?  Does it fit today?  Right now?  Be honest.  Would you wear it out in public feeling beautiful and comfortable?  No?  Toss it.  Stop holding onto clothes for "someday".  Chances are your tastes will change.
2.  If you haven't worn it in a year, toss it.  I don't care what it is and I don't care if it still fits.  You clearly don't like it that much if you haven't worn it in a year.
3.  Now, from what is left, what do you want to keep?  If you were shopping today, would you buy that item?  Put the keepers back in the closet/dresser.  Put everything else in a bag to donate.

1.  Look at the quality of each accessory.  Is it slightly damaged?  Would you buy it in its current condition?  {Barring sentimentality, of course.}  No?  Get rid of it.
2.  Have you worn/used that accessory in the past 6 months?  If not, toss it.
3.  Now, again, from what is left, what do you want to keep?  If you were shopping today, would you buy that item?  Great!  Keep and donate accordingly.

Craft Supplies {This takes a few more steps.}
1.  Do you have materials designated for a specific project that you know you will complete within the next 3 months?  Yes?  Immediately put those aside.
2.  Are the materials expired?  Toss 'em.
3.  Chances are you have a bunch of leftover materials from previous projects.  Would it cost you more than $5 to replace those materials down the road?  No?  Put them in a donate pile.
4.  Did you buy that item because it was on clearance and you might use it someday?  There's that nasty word again.  If you don't have a project in mind, put it in the donate pile.
5.  Now go shopping!  What do you want to keep?  For me, it was mostly expensive crafting tools.  Everything else went in a donate pile.

Now, let's talk about donating.  Goodwill, St. Vincent de Paul, and Salvation Army are all great organizations to send items to -- however, the best place to send your craft supplies is to a school.  Many art teachers could use the supplies!  Contact your local school district to find out if you could donate to a program or, better yet, use your network.  Chances are you have a connection to a teacher through your Facebook friends.  Trust me, you'll feel much better handing off that huge box of supplies to kids.

Take a look at what you have left.  Isn't it refreshing?  All of the items you have now are there by permission, not passive acceptance.  Bravo!

Just...try not to go shopping to fill all of the space!  Enjoy it for at least a little while.

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