Throw Out Fifty Things

Gail Blanke


1. Fuel the urge to purge. Imagine how good you’re going to feel when you get rid of all the physical and mental debris that’s been clogging up the arteries of your life - from dried up tubes of Crazy Glue to your teenager’s old tricycle to that drawer in the kitchen (you know that drawer) to that relationship that depresses you. Create a vision of yourself stepping into a clearing, free of the “life plaque” that’s been holding you back. See yourself as unstoppable.

2. Get a grip on the rules and tools. The “rules of disengagement” are simple. One: if it (the thing, belief, conviction, memory, even the person), makes you feel bad about yourself, let it go. Two: if you find yourself agonizing over whether something should stay or go whether it be a too-tight sweater or a too-small view of yourself – it’s gotta go. The tools are simple, too. All you need are three sturdy garbage bags – one labeled “trash,” one labeled, “donations,” and one labeled, “Sell.” Easy, right? And remember, what might no longer be your cup of tea could hit the spot for someone else. Re-cycle!

3. Celebrate the small stuff. Start with a single drawer or shelf and spend maybe fifteen minutes, tops. When you’re finished tossing and tidying, stand back and admire your handiwork. You’ll feel a surge of energy. Don’t be surprised if you can’t resist tackling the whole closet or cupboard - or room, for that matter. Ask somebody to come and admire your work.

4. Make it a party. Invite some pals over for a “throw out fifty things evening.” Put on some music, get out the wine. Ask someone to write down what you’re throwing out so you definitely make it to fifty. Listen to the suggestions other people make about what should stay or go. Especially, what should go. Their suggestions might seem ruthless at first, but they’ll probably be right on the money.

5. Don’t be afraid. This is your life we’re talking about. The only one you have for sure. You don’t have time, energy or room for physical or psychic waste. Hey, one woman went home and threw out the guy she’d been living with for 11 years. She asked if she still needed to throw out forty-nine more things. I said, “That’ll do it for this week, but next week you’ll have to get cracking again.” So what about you? I’m not kidding about fifty.

Tags: clutter, organize


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I started this process about a month ago. My goal has been to take one bag out of my house per day. It can be a bag of trash, donations, or things to sell at the second hand store. You can find out so much about yourself in doing this. I found that I purchased many pairs of shoes that I had never worn. I believe that was my post-divorce time. I had been married to a rather short man and never wore high heels when I was married. I went through a phase of purchasing lots of high heels that I never wore after the divorce. There was a time this would have made me cry. This time it made me laugh. I know I am moving on. They went to the second hand store!

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It was after a good 10 years of living by myself and collecting just about all the useless things in the world that I realised I needed to start throwing them away. It was a painful process that continues today, after 3 years, and every time I throw a big bag I am sad on my way to the trash can and enthusiastic on my way back to the house. Most of the things written above are things I have tried- and Gail is right. The outcome, that surge of energy, is worth the hard work of tidying up, putting things in boxes, bags etc.
Great pieces of advice, I like this book already!

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