I know a lot of people have problems with actually getting rid of things when they declutter, but putting things in decluttering purgatory can help.
If you’re the sort of person who is hesitant to declutter — or to actually get rid of the things you’ve chosen to declutter — using a purgatory system can help reduce the feeling of “I might need it some day.”
What is Decluttering Purgatory?
Using a decluttering purgatory, or putting things in time out before you get rid of them entirely, is not a new concept. But I was reminded of it recently thanks to a LifeHacker article on the subject.
It basically just means that you pack away the things you plan to get rid of, but hold onto the boxes for some set amount of time.
The article suggests a month, but the timing isn’t super critical, as long as you commit to actually getting rid of the things when you said you were going to.
How Does Purgatory Work?
The main thing when it comes to having a decluttering purgatory is that you put things in it that you are planning to get rid of and you put them in a place where they aren’t too easily accessible.
This is not the time to stack your to-donate boxes next to the front door where you’ll see them 10 times a day.
Pack your boxes into the garage, the attic, the back of a closet. Then set a calendar reminder to retrieve and donate at some specific time in the future. (Otherwise you’re likely to forget they are there until your next declutter.)
The idea is that with these things out of sight but still technically accessible, you’ll realize you didn’t need them and will be happy to get rid of them when the time comes.
It’s designed to get you past that initial feeling that as soon as you get rid of something you’re going to want it back.
How Decluttering Purgatory Works for Crafters
If you’re using this principle to help declutter your craft supplies, you might need to add a step of putting a brief inventory on the box before you stash it.
Then in the unlikely case you decide you really did need that black yarn, you can more easily find the box it is in. Otherwise you would have to root through every box and would almost certainly find other treasures you suddenly decided you needed to keep.
You also might be tempted to keep your purged boxes for more than a month. I think that’s fine as long as you have a firm date for getting rid of the things for good that is less than six months away.
Making a decluttering purgatory for yourself gives you a little space if getting rid of things immediately feels like too much pressure. It also helps you learn that the vast majority of the time you won’t get back into the boxes to retrieve something you regret decluttering.
Over time you may find your stuff doesn’t need to stop in purgatory on its way out the door after all.