A Year of Project #Purge365: 5 Lessons Learned

This post is part of the #Purge365 series about a midlife journey through a year of purging a house – and a life – of unnecessary things. Click here to see all previous posts.

It’s officially the first day of the New Year, and time to take stock of Project #Purge365 to see if any big lessons could be learned from it.

But first, some statistics:

  • I wrote 28,630 words (abut 75 pages) as a result of this project
  • Of those, 1,955 are half-finished thoughts that didn’t make it into a blog post
  • I ended up writing 15 blog posts – a far cry from what I’d originally set out to do, which was one a week. In my defense, I also wrote 8 travel and lifestyle blog posts on Joburg Expat and 46 blog posts about Hair Transplants and Plastic Surgery. In total, that makes for 69 blog posts – well over one per week.
  • I sold $866 worth of used items
  • I made a total of 10 trips to Goodwill and/or the dumpster; I now wish I had weighed everything first to have another statistic for this blog.
  • I did make it to mostly all of the 80 drawers I counted at the beginning of the year; however, I only entirely cleaned out about 7 of them.
  • I never made it to “Under the Girls’ Sink” or the tool bench in the garage – both such promising treasure troves I was sure I’d tackle in the course of an entire year.

Here are 5 lessons I’ve learned:

Lesson #1

If you set out to do something at your house every day of the year, don’t travel to Europe for 3 weeks that year. Even though I worked valiantly to get ahead before I left, I could never quite catch up after July. Only with a valiant push the last few days did I reach my goal of purging at least one item every day. I basically coerced the kids to pitch in on the last day of the year, and they came through with their old swim meet ribbons (turns out I collected hundreds of participation ribbons – why???) & other trophies, and lots more stuff from their closets. Which leads me to:

Lesson #2

I could be making my life a lot easier if I asked for help more often. Getting the kids to participate was a fun trip down memory lane, a nice way to get everyone engaged as a group, and it saved me a lot of time. I (all mothers!) should take advantage of “The Help” more often. Perhaps I should make Project “#KidsCookEachWeek” the theme for 2020.

Lesson #3

We don’t give ourselves enough credit for the things we DO do. 69 blog posts in a year is not nothing. I also got rid of some big things that made a noticeable dent, including:

  • all the old paint cans in the basement
  • about 500 lbs (felt like!) of old roofing tiles
  • an entire dining table full of stacked duvets and sheet sets
  • mountains of old clothes, old charging cables, and old backpacks
  • an inner tube
  • 2 mattresses
  • 1 bookshelf

Lesson #4

We don’t think big and bold enough in our everyday lives, because we get caught up in the small stuff. Reading through my list of daily purges now, it strikes me how silly it was to record a pair of ripped jeans, an old chapstick, and a stress ball in the shape of an avocado each as individual items. In reality, I needed to get rid of entire categories of things to move faster and be more efficient. We still have an incredible amount of  stuff in the basement. Had I taken a step back occasionally to think about the big picture, I might have made some decisions that would have led to more progress.

I think I’m not alone in this. Humans think and act incrementally. Maybe that is why we value true visionaries so much. People who think big and bold thoughts, who make huge, swiping decisions.

Lesson #4 and lesson #3 are connected and mutually reinforcing.

Lesson #5

I let the Perfect be the enemy of the Good too many times. I often took quick, funny notes when purging a particular item, and this could have become a quick, funny blog post to share with the world. But I felt like I needed to sit down and think it though and make it into a coherent and substantial missive of 1,000 words. Which, as mentioned above, happened 15 times this year. Had I just followed my first instinct and published my quick but imperfect thoughts, I might have ended up with the envisioned 50 posts after all, and been able to engage with my readers more often.

On that note I will end this post with “only” 5 lessons. There is a ton more I’d like to share. Some back stories I haven’t yet explored, thoughts on the most gratifying of all the purges, as well as some unwanted purges I was forced to make against my will.

Those will be coming up in another, hopefully good but not perfect, blog post.

Stay tuned, and a very Happy 2020 to all of you!



  1. Nice to read this now that my goal for this year (again) is to get rid of stuff. Coincidentally just this morning I did two French lessons / videos talking about the famous Marie Kondo purging system, so now I even know the French words to deal with this. I can’t imagine why I have so much stuff after making massive purges for multiple transatlantic moves in the last decade, and the kids are now dealing with their own stuff in their own houses. And I am not a shopper or collector by any stretch of the imagination. I wonder what the lesson is there? Where does it all come from? So now, Lusine, are you continuing with this purging project? Is it a habit now? Do you feel less stressed and freer? Wishing you a happy, healthy New Year!

  2. Hi Miss Footloose, so nice to hear from you! I love the French Marie Kondo lesson – I’m sure you’d never learn those specific words otherwise! I must say I have been enjoying my trashy Spanish telenovelas. I’m addicted to them. I love listening to the Spanish and am soaking it all up.

    I hear you re not being a shopper or collector and STILL having too much stuff. That was one of my other lessons from this year – we have SO MUCH STUFF! I mean, here I was throwing away stuff every day, and it doesn’t feel like I’ve made much of a dent. And I’ve been pretty frugal too, not really buying much in terms of new stuff unless it was really necessary.

    Maybe the transatlantic moves don’t help. You think they do, but we always had the packers pack up everything and ship it, since we had it all paid for by the company. Perhaps if you had to carry it yourself or pay for it yourself, you’d be much more inclined to chuck it.

    I do feel happy that my closet is now so neat, and I don’t have many things in there anymore that I don’t wear. Amazing how little w really need. I do like how it’s all organized. I also like my kitchen now – has only (mostly) utensils I actually need, and so much easier to manage.

    And yes, I am continuing, which I guess was the point. If you do something for a whole year, it becomes a habit. Just today I cleaned up my desk and it made me feel so good. On the other hand, why did I have it so messy for a whole year, with stuff on it I clearly was never going to get to? Like I said, I think the lesson learned here is that you have to be more bold and throw many more things away at the source. Take a picture of it, and be done. Those boxes and boxes of trophies I collected for the kids, and none of them wanted to hold on to theirs. It did make for a nice day of nostalgia though.

    Do I feel less stressed and freer? Maybe a tiny little bit. I do think a big house with lots of stuff is a burden. if I was living by myself, I’d get rid of so much more stuff still, and move into a smaller, cozier space. And then invest in just a few high end items that I really enjoy.

    Happy New Year to you too, my friend! Where do you live these days?

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