The Point Of Purging – And Why I Don’t Do “Challenges”

posted by Andrea | 02/21/2017
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Over the years, I have been asked time and time and time again why I don’t ever blog about any type of “purging challenge”, and why I don’t do any type of purging challenge in my own life.

If you’ve never heard of any of these challenges, just search Pinterest for “purging challenges” and see HOW MANY different ideas pop up!

  • purge 40 bags for 40 days of Lent
  • purge 31 items every day for the first 31 days of the year
  • purge at least 1 item every day for 365 days
  • purge 101 things as quickly as possible
  • purge specific areas of your home every month of the year
  • purge your closet until you’re down to only 40 items

I get it… I can definitely see the motivational factor of being involved in a fun purging challenge for 31 days, 40 days, 60 days, or even a whole year.

I’ve read (and still read) a handful of blogs who share similar purging challenges every year, I see the challenges all over Facebook, and I definitely don’t think they are bad or wrong or harmful in any way. Many times they result in lots of purging that otherwise might not happen if the purger wasn’t motivated by the challenge.

HOWEVER, for me, the purpose of purging is to remove items I no longer want, need, use or love and sometimes, I think these challenges direct our purging focus elsewhere.

For example:

I know many people (in real life) who have participated in some type of purging challenge — and in preparation for the challenge, they start hoarding junk they would have never otherwise brought into their home, JUST so they have more to purge.

I know others who have literally saved boxes of stuff they didn’t sell at a garage sale (for many months) so they would be able to use it towards their purge — when in actuality, they were planning to donate it all after the garage sale and could have gotten it out of their homes months earlier.

I know someone else who said she counted each shoe as 1 item and individual cards and game pieces as single items to help her meet her purging goal.

I’ve seen people joke on social media about raiding their parents’ homes to count towards their purging goals.

I even know more than one person who has openly admitted to “purging” but keeping the purged items in the garage or attic and slowly pulling things back out and bringing them back into their home.

And then there’s the concept of “now I’ve purged, I’m done until next year” that just doesn’t promote an attainable picture of organization.

And THESE are just a few of the reasons I’ve never been sold on purging challenges. 

Purging shouldn’t be about hitting a certain number, trying to amass extra junk so we have more to purge later, winning a contest, or looking good to the internet world.

Purging should be about freeing yourself, your family, your home, and your life from STUFF you no longer want, need, use, or love… and continually working to maintain that level of organization from here on.

It might be difficult, it might take some time, it might not always be fun or enjoyable, but it WILL be worth it once you can see your floors, find exactly what you need in minutes, enjoy wearing only the clothing you love and feel great in, and never have to feel stressed or anxious about inviting people over (or welcoming in unexpected guests).

If that’s not enough motivation, then I doubt a purging challenge will do the trick either.

Obviously, I do NOT think purging challenges are evil or wrong — I’m certain there are lots of people who DO benefit from the extra motivation.

But for me, it’s just not something I’m interested in for my personal life or my blog. I’d rather share simple tips you can do right now, in 5 minutes, and then move on with your life.

What are your thoughts on purging challenges?

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17 comments

  1. Katie

    02/22/2017

    I can just tell when I need to purge! It is usually around Christmas, the kids’ birthdays, and change of seasons. And I have never done a “challenge” either!

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  2. Stephanie

    02/21/2017

    I love to purge too and do so on a routine basis (we have a large family). I am with Heart and Haven-I get inspired by real life before and after pictures instead of the perfect magazine ones. Andrea, what blogs do you enjoy reading? Your blog is one of my favorites!

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    Andrea Reply:

    I think anyone with a larger family MUST purge regularly — or they risk being swallowed by all the income stuff 🙂
    As for the blogs I read, MoneySavingMom.com usually does some sort of purging challenge either on her blog or on Facebook and then she posts lots of photos and updates throughout the day. Also, Memories on Clover Lane usually does the 40 bags for Lent and it’s AMAZING how much stuff she purges (she has 6 kids!)

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  3. Alicia

    02/21/2017

    I can see how some people, who aren’t naturally organized or minimalistic, could appreciate a purging challenge ! Not my thing, but I can see why people do them!

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  4. Karlyn Nance

    02/21/2017

    I’m with you 100% on this one. In our age of almost all of us having too much stuff, I have found that purging needs to be a continual process, and not directed by a certain number of items or time length. I have my house divided roughly into 10 areas where things are stored, and have assigned a month of the year to each area. I get 2 months off: whatever month we take a vacation, and December. For example, January is living room, February is kitchen, etc. During the designated month, I try to clean & purge all the storage areas, drawers, closets, shelves, etc., in the assigned rooms. This spreads it out, so it’s not overwhelming. I call it the “scheduled” approach, in contrast to the “challenge” or “blitz” approaches. However, like you, I see nothing inherently wrong with either of those. Whatever works for the individual and gets it done is the “right” approach!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Exactly — definitely needs to be a continual process!
    Also, thanks for sharing your smart idea of doing one area a month!

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  5. Nina

    02/21/2017

    I have never actually heard of a purging challenge. I’d rather purge as the urge strikes me and get it done with. I can understand if you need a motivator, the challenge may help get you going. Kind of like the way some fitness challenges motivate people to move. I’m not a good rule follower though and tend to adapt things to how they’d better work for me.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Me too Nina — I always say “I clean when things are dirty and I purge when things get too full”! I don’t have a set day or month to purge — just whenever I feel it’s necessary!

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  6. Debbie

    02/21/2017

    Oh goodness! That’s pretty funny reading how some meet their quota for the purging challenge. I’ve never heard of this challenge before and it peaked my interest when you listed the different kinds, but then had to laugh at how others are using it. I usually purge when I have to make room in the closet for one more item I bought, or during spring cleaning. The purging 1 item a day for 30 days might help me so I’ll have to try that. I like the idea that after 30 days my donation bin will be full and I can take it to Goodwill.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, I literally just had a neighbor tell me how she had kept all her garage sale stuff from this past summer so she could “win” her purging challenge in January. I tried not to look completely shocked, but in my head I was thinking “you are insane”!
    Good luck filling your donation bags, Debbie!

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  7. Heart and Haven

    02/21/2017

    I love participating in organizing/purging challenges. Not necessarily # of items, but by zones. I find the challenges gives me accountability and a deadline. I also strangely love to see others’ befores & afters to get ideas for organizing (real life examples, not “magazine looking”)

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    Andrea Reply:

    oh yes, I totally understand how these challenges are very motivational for some people (the people who don’t ‘cheat’ just to win!) And I agree that the normal-home before/after photos are great!

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  8. Janice

    02/21/2017

    Good grief! Those people you mentioned as purge challenge participants need to wake up and realize there’s a problem with their reasoning ability. I was astounded at such lame thinking.

    One of my favorite questions to ask myself when decluttering or purging is, “WHY DO I HAVE TO KEEP THIS ITEM?”

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, this is a great question to ask Janice! So often, we do NOT “have” to keep an item, we just “want” to — and if we can separate and recognize the want from the need, that’s a big help when it comes to decluttering!

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  9. Chris from Normal

    02/21/2017

    Those challenges and the way people do them are “messed up”! I’ve never hear of those.

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  10. Kristen

    02/21/2017

    Truth be told, I think purging in and of itself is a challenge for me! And, I don’t have a good record of sticking to challenges so I’d never sign up for one of these because I know I would inevitably fail. lol. I try to “challenge” myself into making the decision to get rid of something without thinking about it too much. It’s a slow process but I think it will get easier as time goes on! My husband and I have both agreed that this will be the YEAR for us to purge and organize and so far, so good! We’ve made some money and we’re both learning to let go WITHOUT trying to sell because the sheer feeling of letting it go feels SO. GOOD. One day at a time, one room at a time and one item at a time! 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    you are not alone Kristen! Purging is a challenge for MOST people (even myself at times!) I think that’s why the challenges have become so popular — they are a way to motivate people to purge (which is great!) I just know so many situations where the motivation turns into a warped sense of competitiveness and the whole point of the purging challenge is lost.

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