[TIP TUESDAY] How to Keep It Simple

Today's tip: 


Purge before you organize


Duh, we all know that. But stay with me here, let me explain the difference... 

Ever have the experience where you get the bug to organize and you’re all in?

You spend hours (they fly by) putting every little thing in it’s place (usually in a certain area: like your garage, or your cupboards, or your office, or the junk drawer). It feels AMAZING at the end of it all. You open the drawer or the cupboard or the door just to peek inside and get the THRILL of seeing everything in it’s place.

That visual organization allows something in your mind to feel more settled, at ease. You think more clearly and have more spaciousness to flow with the pace of life.


Within a few days, a week, a month (not very long), the space reverts right back to its original state. Jumbled messes of cords and notes and pens in the junk drawer. A pantry with cans hidden behind jars--you don’t even know what you have, so you end up buying more.

I’ve been there too.

In fact, I used to help people organize their things professionally. I’d go in and spend hours with them deciding what to keep and then making the space feel amazing. And then in a pretty short amount of time, the space would be in shambles again. To be honest, it was kinda depressing.

It made me feel like Mr. Incredible saving the world--”Sometimes I just want it to stay saved for a little bit! I feel like the maid: 'I just cleaned up this mess, can you keep it clean for a few days?!'” (anyone? :)).

And then I learned the secret: You have to purge before you organize.

Don’t get me wrong, in helping others to organize their spaces, we would purge. We had boxes for trash, thrift, give away. Depending on the client, about 10-20% of the stuff would leave the house. But when you do that from the rational place of “well, I haven’t used it in a few years, but it could be so useful, and it would totally be great for ____,” you make SLOW progress--it’s not at all efficient AND you don’t let go of nearly enough.

Now it’s not about numbers--about letting go of a certain percentage of your things, or only having a certain number of something.

  • It’s about keeping only the things that bring you joy. (ala Marie Kondo)
  • It’s about focusing on what you keep (rather than what you let go of).

When you purge from a place or being able to recognize when an object inspires the feeling of joy in your body, that's when you allow yourself to make lasting progress.

Purging in any other way is just not worth your time.

Before you decide it’s time to organize your desktop once and for all, pull all those papers together and keep only the ones that: you are currently using, you need for a limited amount of time, or you need to keep forever.

Before you organize your junk drawer, pull everything out by category and go through to see if all that random junk inspires joy--visceral joy in your body.

When you put back in only the things that bring you joy, it’s so much easier for everything to find a home. It’s so much easier for everything to stay organized.

You have space for everything (I promise you).

When you own only what brings you joy, you want to lavish your love and attention on it. You want to find the perfect home for it. You want to put it back in its place.

And guess what, this time investment upfront pays you dividends down the road. You will spend infinitely less time dealing with your things once you remove what you don’t love, what weighs you down. You will spend infinitely less time thinking about how you should be tidying up a certain area (the garage, the attic, the kid’s rooms), which frees up your mental energy for the things you do want to focus on.

So make your life easier, will you? Purge before you organize.

If this sounds like your cup of tea,

  1. Read Marie Kondo’s book: the life-changing magic of tidying up. She doesn't pay me anything to tell you that. I tell you, because it makes the work that I do with my private clients infinitely easier, more successful, powerful. This is far and away the biggest way to MAKE YOUR LIFE EASIER, to FREE UP YOUR TIME. 
  2. Stay tuned for a fall full of tips and stories that will make your life simple including an exciting challenge coming your way!
  3. Get in touch when you’re really ready to create the simple life for yourself.

Here’s to the: Simple home. Simple life. Simple Pleasures. Simple Happiness.

:) Tenaya