I recently took a trip up to my mom’s old house to help identify those things that I might like to save or at least give to my friend Chris. We saved a lot of our old science fair gear and hope to re-build the Tesla Coil in the coming weeks. In the process I got to thinking about purging, and unclutter-ing and trying to help my mom move while not taking all sorts of old, unused stuff to the new house. We actually found one of those old car phone things that had been moved from two houses ago!

Perhaps this item might have been purged before the end of the last century.

The question is: “why would we save things that simply are of no functional use?” Often in the process of moving, it is easier to just put everything you see in boxes, and sort “later,” which as we all know, rarely happens. The alternative I offer is that use the process of a “move” to create an invisible barrier between your old, cluttered, non-minimal existence, and the home you want to create. Only let things pass through this barrier that have passed certain tests.

A good method for purging is summarized in the following flow chart. Keep in mind that the bias of this process is an eye toward reducing the shear quantity of stuff one has. However there is some subjectivity in the last rule “Does this make my life better?” I ask you to seriously consider this question, because I have found that “No” is often the answer. The tricky part has to deal with sentimental items: pictures, trinkets, old cards, etc. I have taken the more extreme approach of scanning anything scan-able, taking pictures of the rest, and keeping only a few choice items (art and photos) that I hang on the wall. I encourage you to select the most meaningful of your mementos and display them, they are doing no good rotting in boxes with no one to enjoy them! The rest– get rid of and focus on creating new memories.

Clothing is another area that presents some challenges; an easy rule is that if it hasn’t been worn in a year, toss it; hat way all four seasons are covered. You will make room for new clothes if you need them. One trick might be (if you have the space) to put all of your clothes in on free closet, but anything you wear you would put back into a different closet (bedroom, perhaps) then at the end of the year, donate everything in the other closet.