Fall is as Good a Time as Any to Clean and Cull. merge2gether Offers Five Simple Steps to Letting Go of Old Stuff

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Autumn Cleaning Spring is not the only time for cleaning, purging and organizing. For many, nesting for the upcoming winter has already begun. Once the weather outside gets frightful, won’t it be nice to have a clutter-free home to hunker down in? Also, doing some major cleaning now, before the holiday season, is a nice way to clear out space for holiday gifts and guests.

moving and living together

bringing together people, places and things

I am now ready to take on cleaning out the guest room and maybe even the basement.

Pick a Room, Any Room
Obvious places to start cleaning and culling include the basement, attic, garage, extra bedrooms, laundry room, closets and off-site storage units. It might be best to start small and let those successes lead to bigger and bigger projects.

Purge in Harmony
Weeks before starting the purging project, sit down over a quiet dinner with the people in the house and develop a system for organizing and getting rid of stuff. Be sure to devise a way to work out any differences in opinion regarding whether to cull or keep. Here is a step-by-step plan for getting the job done.

Step #1
Develop a system for how the purge will start. For example, have each person go through the room armed with a unique color of sticky notes. In each room, post notes on the items in question with a designation:

  • Purge for sure
  • Up for discussion
  • Want to keep

Step #2
Create talking points for a purge plan, establishing which items are sacrosanct. Discuss the idea that one person’s treasure is another one’s trash and vice versa. Talk about any special items that individuals may find personally important to keep, like grandma’s antique tea set or the international beer bottle collection.

Step #3
Design guidelines for helping to decide whether to keep or toss items in question. For example:

  • When was the last time an item was worn, used or seen?
  • Less than one year ago     
  • One to three years ago            
  • More than three years ago

When do you think it will be worn, used or seen again?

  • Soon            
  • Maybe sometime        
  • Probably never

If there is an item of no sentimental value that has not been used or seen in a year or more and is not likely to be used again, then let it go. Devise a similar rule of thumb to all items not worn, seen or used for a year or more.

Step #4
Don't make the mistake of cleaning out a room and relocated all the "purged items" to another location, like the garage. Get that stuff out of the house. Ways to purge include:

  • Toss (hire a environmentally conscious trash company to haul away the big stuff)
  • Recycle as much as possible
  • Give away to a friend or family member
  • Donate to charity
  • Sell on eBay or craigslist

Step #5
Keep an ongoing list of who gives what up. Use the list to negotiate with each other: “I will give you the tea set, if you give me the brown leather chair in the office.” If negotiations get stuck on one item, then let it go for now and agree to revisit it later. Invite a friend to referee the purging process if a stalemate is reached.

In the end, remember that it is all just stuff and not inherently important in the grand scheme of things.

For more information about how to move in with and live together successfully with others, go to merge2gether.com.

About merge2gether (http://www.merge2gether.com): Founded in 2011, merge2gether is headquartered in Oakland, California. merge2gether.com is an online community offering resources to guide people as they think and talk through the process of moving in with another person. merge2gether provides free information, questions-and-answers and ideas to people of all ages and at all stages of life.

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Beverly Aabjerg
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