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I love the start of a new year. It’s a great time to hit the reset button and start fresh. The baggage of the previous year is gone and time to plan new projects, set new goals and simply move forward.

For me, the New Year also ignites the urge to purge—making space for what is relevant in life versus the items that have one living in the past or don’t fit with today’s lifestyle.

Purging requires making decisions. For many, this is the toughest part of the organizing process, especially when dealing with personal items. But if you desire a more spacious home, have limited storage (and don’t want to spend money on renting a storage unit, which I discourage), then purging is necessary.

Start simple: Anything broken, damaged and irreparable, old papers, coupons, etc.—toss! Next, use large clear labeled containers and go through room-by-room. Label the containers as follows: Donate, Consign, Return, Go Home and Trash. Here’s what goes in each:

Donate = Items no longer fit for resale, but still in fairly good condition. In a home situation, these items would be donated perhaps to Good Will or the National Kidney Foundation—whatever charity that’s close to your heart.

Consign = Items eligible for resale at a consignment store. Remember to check your local store requirements. Many stores will only take clothing that is no more than one or two seasons old. Consign could also be items that are sold on Storkbrokers orCraigslist. But do your research and weigh the time/money value as to whether it’s worth your effort. You may just want to donate and take the tax deduction.

Return = Any items found in your home/office that either need to be returned to someone you know or a store. For personal items, this could be found money if you return them to a store.

Go Home = Fill this box with items that do not belong in that particular space, but in go another space in your home or office. For example, in your kitchen, you may wind up with a heap of paperwork that actually belongs in the office. OR, perhaps some of your children’s items have accumulated in the kitchen space and need to “Go Home” to the child’s bedroom.

Trash = Any item that is broken, not in working or resalable condition, extra packaging that is no longer needed.

Now that you have your containers set up, start in the room that raises your blood pressure the most. That way you’ll feel the most accomplished once you’ve eliminated the excess. Here are some tips for purging:

  • Go with your gut—if you think you won’t use it, you probably won’t. Put it in Donate, Consign, or Trash. Make decisions quickly. The longer you hem and haw, the harder it will be. Go with your first instinct!
  • If you haven’t used an item in the past year, you probably won’t. Research says that 80% of the paper you file will never be accessed again.
  • Enlist the help of a supportive friend who will be honest.
  • Pace yourself—Remember to take sufficient breaks. If you’re beginning to feel overly emotional, stop and regroup. Return to the Purge when your energy level returns and you’re prepared to make decisions.

This is one step in the GOPACK® Method, the proven method for organizing just about anything. For the complete method, you can purchase The Organized Mom book on



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