On Trying to Purge Belongings (Part One)

So there’s a lot going on, and most of it is exciting/positive even if it is kind of draining. I am still job hunting but have gotten responses from some companies, and I am super excited about some of the potential opportunities I have. That said, I’ve also begun applying for jobs outside of Philadelphia. I have mostly been looking on the West Coast, and the idea of a cross-country move is both exciting and terrifying. The biggest logistical thing I’ve been considering is: WHAT STUFF DO I BRING IF I MOVE? I have… a lot of stuff. I totally have the ability to be a hoarder if I don’t consciously make sure I am getting rid of things regularly (usually 1-2x/year). I used to move every year and that helped a lot with the process, but I’ve been in my current house for about five years now and while I’ve parred down a lot, my stuff seems to have multiplied exponentially.

I started thinking a lot about this after a friend recently sold everything he owned to go on the road. My reaction was “Cool!” Followed by “HOLY SHIT. HOW.” I thought about it even more after reading an article on LifeHacker How To Program Your Mind to Stop Buying Crap You Don’t Need. The article talks about making a master list of everything you own and asking yourself: how much your purchased it for, why you purchased it (sale, impulse, necessity), why you’re keeping it (necessity, sentimentality, etc), when is the last time you used the item, when will you use it again, does it bring you joy, etc etc etc. This list helps you in a few ways. First, the list can help keep you from duplicating items you already have. Second, the list helps you narrow down items you need, want, sometimes need, and don’t need at all. You can use it to par down belongings and see what you’re holding onto and why. This is something I can REALLY use.

So last night I started an excel sheet of all of my belongings. I don’t expect to be done this today but hope to get everything added within 1-2 weeks, adding little bits at a time. I’ve started with the easiest things like large furniture, linens, etc. I’m trying to make sure I add things in batches and start with items that don’t get moved around a ton to avoid confusion.

So far I have the following Categories (And sub-categories in parenthesis):

  • Accessories (Bags, Jewelry, Scarves)
  • Art Supplies (Paint, Tape, Drawing)
  • Beauty (Hair, Perfume, Body, Face)
  • Clothing (Foot-wear, Long sleeved shirts, short sleeved shirts, dresses)
  • Electronics
  • Furniture (Bedroom, Living Room, Kitchen, Office)
  • Household (Bedroom, Office)
  • Journals
  • Miscellaneous
  • Trinkets

These are obviously not going to be the only categories or sub-categories, but I am adding as I go. My biggest issue so far has been figuring out how to categorize things like the cards, poems, random pictures, cut-outs, etc that are on a pinboard in my room. The next thing I am trying to figure out is whether to batch add things like the zillion sharpies and pens I have or add them individually by color (I am obviously going to end up batch adding these but I really debating if it was the right way to do it). An example of what the sheet looks like is below:

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 8.54.59 PM

I’m curious how long this is going to take, and I am sort of keeping track but need to do a better job of keeping exact times in the future. So far I have 197 items and I’ve spent about an hour adding things to the list (while watching Netflix and being distracted). I’ll update once the list is done and I know how much it’s helping me get rid of.

Other Stuff

I am still behind on my LifeBook assignments, but the great thing about LifeBook is that you can do the lessons at your own pace. I’m hoping to get back to it sooner rather than later. I also have barely been taking photos lately. Hopefully, as the weather gets nicer and I am out and about more I will start up again.

What I have been doing with my time is being crazy obsessed with my Fitbit, as usual. I am really excited because I’ve managed to increase my daily mileage to ~8 miles a day, and sometimes more. I’ve also started taking Saturdays off. This wasn’t really part of the plan, but I had two Saturdays in a row where I didn’t do any miles because I hurt my leg and so I just rested, then I decided to make it part of my routine. I did the calculations and I can still hit my 3000 mile goal this year with Saturdays off, so I am going with it for now. The idea of not doing any miles sort of makes me crazy so this will likely just end up being a minimum miles day (~5).

Other cool news: I upgraded and got a Fitbit Charge HR! I’ve only had it for two days so I don’t have any exciting heart rate data yet, but I am super amped to see the data in a few weeks. I’m the most interested in looking at if my work stress/anxiety attacks/etc have an effect on my heart rate. But, I also have a slight heart issue (I had a series of TIAs or mini-strokes a year and a half ago) so I have to be able to watch my heart rate when I am doing intense exercise. I’m hoping to increase my cardio abilities because right now even the slightest bit throws my heart rate up to 200, but I have to do it slowly and safely hence the Charge HR. I actually purchased a Fitbit Surge first, but I had it for less than an hour before I returned it. I like the features of the Surge a lot, but it was way too big and bulky for my wrist, not to mention super uncomfortable. I wrote to Fitbit suggesting a smaller Surge model, so hopefully other people have that idea and they make one eventually. I am also interested in trying out some other heart rate trackers (Garmin, etc) so may see if I can get some loaner items and do a blog post comparing them.

Aside from my insane walking and daily writing, the only other noteworthy thing I do is read. In the last week I read The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl, The 100: Homecoming, and Into That Forest. I hated the first two but really loved the last book and highly suggest it.  I am also obsessed with The 100 TV show and so I love all of the books as well. As you can tell my life is pretty exciting these days.

I’ve been working on another post about cell phone detox this week, so there will likely be another post sooner rather than later. Keep an eye out!

Lastly, if anyone takes an interest in this project please feel free to email me or tweet me questions! Also, if you decide to make your own list please let me know! I’d love to see how other people organize and use this idea.

References and Other Links

  1. PaleoRiot: Peace Out New Jersey. Welcome to Wanderlust.
  2. How To Program Your Mind to Stop Buying Crap You Don’t Need 
  3. Fitbit
  4. Fitbit Charge HR

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About tamarahala

Tamara is currently living in Pennsylvania working as a Scheduling Coordinator/Payroll Supervisor with Live Nation Entertainment. Looking for fun short-term opportunities during the off season from November to March.

5 responses to “On Trying to Purge Belongings (Part One)”

  1. Laura (PA Pict) says :

    When we were getting ready to emigrate, we had to do a major purge and in a very condensed period of time. I would have loved to have made a spreadsheet (because I make Excel documents for just about everything) but it just was not logistically possible given our time frame and the scale of the task.

    I had to be ruthless so gave myself deadlines to tackle a section at a time, such as a particular wardrobe or a room or books, and divide the contents of each section into “ship”, “sell”, “donate” or “bin”. I donated items as soon as I had a few boxes worth in the car and I listed things for sale on our local Facebook page as and when I found them. I made enough from selling our possessions to almost fund the entire shipping container bill we had. I would ask myself questions about things: do I use this? Often enough? Do I need this? Does it have sentimental value? Is it cheaper to ship or to replace this item?

    There were days when I thought I would never get to the end of the job but somehow I did. Everything was boxed and ready for the shipping company in time, hundreds of items were donated, hundreds were sold and a whole bunch of crap I had been giving space to for years got taken to the tip to be recycled. It was a stressful process because of the timescale but purging and sorting felt good, therapeutic.

    So happy purging!


    • tamarahala says :

      Man that’s brutal!! I think my previous yearly moves helped me a lot so can see where a move to another country would definitely help purge belongings! So far I have logged almost 1000 items and only marked ~8 to get rid of. So I have a far way to go, but I’m working on it!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Mike says :

    A. Thank you for pinging my post.

    B. I am currently writing an eBook on how I got rid of all my shit in less than 30 days so maybe that will be helpful to you when I’m done?

    C. Main thing I did was simply let go of all the crap I have held onto for the years. Make boxes of things you will want to keep like memorabilia and drop those off at a family member’s or keep it in storage. All the rest of it should just be shit that you will need for the bare essentials. Maybe you should check out http://www.theminimalists.com/start/

    Hit me up with any questions maaaaan.


    • tamarahala says :

      Hey!! Sorry I thought I replied to this and didn’t. Derp! Anytime dude, your story is really motivating and I will definitely be reading your eBook! I’m still working on the spreadsheet but think it’s gonna help a lot.


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