Welcome to the WINning Touch Blog.  This Blog is designed to bring you tips and tricks throughout the month you can use.  Today’s post is part 2 in a 3-part series by Amber Taggard, Professional Organizer and Owner of The Organizer Chicks 

In Part 1, we talked about how to get started with your organizing task, and outlined several important steps for making real progress: scheduling organizing as an action item; removing distractions; bringing in some fun; picking a starting point and staying on task.  Next, we’re going to focus on one of the very most important aspects of organization – sorting and purging. 

When it comes down to it, any time a space is cluttered and filled with “stuff” there are only two possible solutions.  Either add square footage to create more space for the stuff, or eliminate enough stuff to comfortably fit into the space.  It is often my experience that my clients know that they need to let go of some items, but have a hard time deciding what to keep and what should stay.  Use the following criteria to decide what should be done with your items. 

  • One by oneexamine each item in the space.  In a closet, for instance, start on the far right hand side of the rod and physically pick up and hold the item.  Have a full-length mirror handy so that you can try each item on if need be.   

  • Ask yourself if you have used the item in the last calendar year. If a full year has come and gone and the item has not been used, it is not as meaningful or as functional as it needs to be to be kept. 

  • Ask yourself if you would purchase the item all over again if you were in the store today. Does the item fit/function/look just like you want it to?  It can be hard to let go of items that you paid good money for, butremember, an item already purchased represents a sunk cost.  Keeping something because it’s been paid fordoesn’t make the investment worthwhile, and in fact, it keeps costing you, in terms of space, clutter, and a sense of peace.  

  • Ask yourself the “worst case scenario” question. If you let go of the item, what would be the worst thing that could happen?  Could you replace the item in question with another one if, far into the future, you needed one again?  If yes, free yourself of it and don’t live your life tied to items that you are only keeping “just in case.” 

  • Examine and think through emotional attachments. Often, we hang onto items because they were gifts from friends/family, or have other emotional attachments.  I like to remind my clients that what we really want to keep is the memory, but not necessarily the physical item.  If they are just gathering dust in your hutch, set up a photo shoot of your great aunt’s china and make a lovely coffee table book of the images, then donate the plates themselves to someone who may actually use them, for instance.  

  • Be realistic about your good intentions.  Ultimately, items basically fall into one of 4 categories: to be kept, thrown away, donated, or sold.  If you have good intentions of having a yard sale but the truth is that you won’t get around to doing so, make the choice to let those items go to a good cause – a women’s and children’s shelter, a favorite non-profit, etc.  Honor those items by letting them live their purpose for someone else rather than wasting away in a box in your garage. 

Stay tuned for the 3rd of this 3 part series on getting organized: Containerizing and Re-Homing.

Amber Taggard, M.S.

Professional Organizer/Owner

The Organizer Chicks & The Cleaning Crew