WAY Too Much Stuff & No Idea How to Purge?

“Help!! I have way too much stuff and I’m drowning in it!”

“I’m about to cry. This is what my living room looks like. I don’t even know where to start.”

“My family needs serious help. I think I’m going to hire an organizer. We have so much stuff we can’t even move around.”

Comments like these surprise me. Not the comments themselves; I know that most of us have more stuff than we know what to do with. Even myself, a proclaimed minimalist for many years, is still trying to cut down on the amount of stuff my family has. What surprises me is how emotional these comments are and where they are posted.

Too Much Stuff – Big Emotions

Although I’ve paraphrased these comments, the actual wording of many of them were similar. People are desperate for help. People are overwhelmed. According to this article on the Psychology Today website, there are many reasons why clutter affects people so deeply. From overwhelmed senses to feelings that our work is incomplete to inhibiting creativity, there are real reason why too much stuff makes people feel bad.

These comments were on a minimalist group board which surprised me as well. I know that many minimalist have stuff problems, like everyone else. I just figured that most people interested in minimalism would be pretty far down the road as far as purging goes. Of course, as soon as I open my front closet and face the wall of stuff that has no home and not place in our house, I realize how wrong my thinking was. After all:

Even people who try to limit the amount of stuff in their lives struggle with managing the stuff they do have.

It’s difficult to motivate yourself to start, when you feel so overwhelmed. It’s difficult to even know where to start. So, I have two easy options for people who are struggling with the amount of clutter in their homes.

Option One – You Don’t Mind Getting Rid of Stuff

This option is for people who haven’t really given decluttering too much thought. Maybe the amount of stuff you had was fine until you had kids or moved to a smaller house. This is roughly the method I used to start getting rid of stuff and I still use it today if I feel as though we’ve brought in too much to the house or if the seasons are changing and I need to assess what to keep and what to get rid of.

My Quick Sweep Method is simple and very effective when you have lots of stuff you want to get through fast. It’s not effective once you’ve gotten rid of a lot of stuff and have to make difficult or emotional decisions about stuff so this method is for getting rid of quantity.

The Quick Sweep Method

get rid of stuff
  1. Label three bags or three boxes: DONATE | TRASH | RETURN
  2. Keep a list handy with each room listed in your house along with the various storage places in the room. {You can
  3. Pick a location, set a timer for 5-10 minutes, and scan the location
  4. Get rid of anything you KNOW you don’t LOVE, NEED, or really WANT
  5. Also get rid of broken items and things that need to be returned. If the broken item needs to be replaced, write it down.
  6. Repeat until you’ve gone through the house
  7. Once you’ve put an item in the donation/trash bag, do not go back through it!

Now, here’s the kicker: If you come to something that you aren’t sure about, keep it. For now.

Use this method to get rid of things that you know aren’t worth the space. You may need to repeat this a few times because once you get going, you will likely get more comfortable letting things go and will be willing to get rid of more and more things.

Now, what about those people who just can’t seem to get rid of anything? Or those people who try the Quick Sweep Method and still have too much. Well, on to option 2.

Option Two – Getting Rid of Stuff is Really Hard for You

Many people like the idea of less clutter, more organization but have a really difficult time getting rid of enough stuff to make a difference. If you are in this group, you are not alone. There are any number of reasons why you can’t seem to fill up those donation bags:

  • You don’t know how to decide what to get rid of
  • You worry you will regret what you get rid of
  • You feel guilty for getting rid of things given to you by others
  • You feel like it’s a waste of money to get rid of things you paid good money for
  • You put stuff in bags but can’t seem to get it actually out of the house

Getting rid of stuff is tied to our beliefs, our values, and the attitudes we were raised with. Sometimes the reason we can’t declutter our spaces has to do with underlying feelings or statements we say to ourselves such as:

“How can I get rid of the first card my daughter ever made? That can’t ever be replaced!”

“I paid way too much to just give that away. I need to find a good home for this or I will keep it.”

If that’s the case, you may need to do just a little bit of groundwork before you physically start removing clutter from your house. You don’t need to go to therapy or spend hours talking it out, just take a few minutes to think about stuff and to observe your thoughts and beliefs.

I wrote a short ebook that walks you through a few quick questions so you can get started right away. It will be easier for you to let go of the things you don’t really need {or want} once your mind and desires are aligned.

Give Yourself a Break

Regardless of the amount of stuff in your home or how many times you’ve tried to declutter, give yourself a break. The relationships we have with our possessions is complicated. We also live in a society that emphasizes stuff and tries to equate love and devotion with material items. We usually become burdened with stuff before we even turn double digits!

So, it’s okay. It may take some time but you will learn how to minimize your stuff. You will eventually have what you need and want without all the excess taking up valuable brain and physical space. It’s a process for everyone. You are not alone.

A Little Secret

I want to leave you with another word of encouragement. Many people worry about getting rid of something and then regretting it. I want you to keep in mind that many people actually do not regret things they got rid of.

Sure, someone may offhandedly think – well, that might would have been helpful. But those occasions don’t upset them because those times are rare compared to all the time they spend in an organized, spacious environment.

During this Quick Sweep, you won’t be getting rid of too many sentimental or nostalgic items – those are the toughest things for most people. So, take heart, you can do this.


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