“Keep, Toss, Donate” vs. SWABS

There are many different ways that people go about an organizing project. We all start with a vision of how we wish our space would work. Then we need to get down and dirty by going through our “stuff” and getting rid of anything we can part with. Although most of the time we all want to be able to keep every precious item that we have let into our world, we come to realize that we have to get rid of a few items. A lot of the time the hard part is going about that process and figuring out what is worth keeping and what we should really get rid of.

If you have ever watched a show about organizing then you may have heard a reference to “Keep, Toss”, or Donate”. For some people this is a wonderfully simple method to cut down on clutter in the home. All items need to fall into the three categories. Either it has enough value or is significant enough to stay, it no longer has any value or needs to be immediately thrown out, or it has some value but the owner no longer needs it in their world and can be used by others who want the item. This is a wonderful method for those who are able to make decisions easily and quickly. If not it can be easy to get stuck in this method. For many people it can be hard to give an item up. Usually we let items into our lives because some way or another we have value and develop attachment to them.

Fewer people have heard of the second method. It is a lot more involved than the prior method, which is why you have probably never seen it being used on TV. “SWABS” stands for Sort, Weed, Assign homes, Buy/locate containers, and Set up. You start with the sorting phase. This phase requires you to take a look at the picture as a whole. You will go through the items and put them into categories. This helps you see exactly what you have, and what you find may shock you. Maybe in one room you find that you have several of one item and didn’t realize how many you had before–many people during this time realize that they double purchases that they make.

Next phase is the weeding phase. Now that you know how much of any item you may have it is time to decide what you truly need. Now that you know what you actually have and have been able to weed through everything, t is time to create or assign homes for everything. This allows for a flow to be created in the area you are working in. I suggest important items being closer to wherever you will most likely spend the most time in the area. Only after all this is it time to buy or locate containers. This is the end of the process, where you are able to finalize the amount of stuff you actually have.

These methods have many pros and cons for both. It is up to each individual person to decide which method will work better for their situation. The first method is great for those who are quick with their decision-making and are looking for faster results. The “SWABS” method is for those who are looking to go a lot deeper into their stuff as well as their space. Both can be difficult and both do require decision-making.

The best way to get through challenges with either method it to ask for help–there is no need to do it all on your own! Grab a friend or even a professional organizer to help you when you get stuck. The best advice you can take is to keep going with any organizing project. There are many factors that get in our way, but remember to revisit your reasons or vision for starting your project in the first place, and you will be able to make it through to the end.

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