I just helped my Mom move from a large 4-bedroom house to a 2-bedroom apartment. Naturally she got rid of a lot of stuff, and some of it came to me. But she also donated a ton.
That effort inspired me to do a big purge at home - partly because it felt good to help her get rid of her old, unwanted stuff, and partly because I had to make room for the things she gave me (like an artificial Christmas tree - lots of space required).
I've had a list for years of areas in the house that needed work, and I never got to them. As others suggested, I did one room - or one part of a room - at a time. The most satisfying (and embarrassing) were areas that I rarely see - like my sons' bathroom linen closet. That went from packed to almost empty, but I was able to move things there from other places (so like things were together).
It helps a LOT that our church has a rummage sale every spring, and there is a room at the church to store things. I can purge any time of year, and have a ready place for donations, without even making an extra trip anywhere (we just bring things to church on Sunday). It would be a lot harder if every time I wanted to give something away, I had to make a special trip to Goodwill (or wherever).
I've read tips from folks who say that as soon as they get a box to donate, they put it right in the car. Then it can be dropped off whenever - and the hardest part seems to be getting things out of the house. Another tip is to pack things away in a box (like unused kitchen items), date it, and if you haven't needed anything in the box for a year, get rid of it.
So here's what I did over the winter:
- Got my sons to purge their clothes (too small/don't wear any more)
- Donated FIL's dress hats to the local community theater (he died 18 years ago)
- Had my wedding gown made into an American Girl doll dress, plus christening gowns
- donated decades of National Geographic magazines to our middle school science teacher
- donated a ton of paperback books to our library's used book sale
- donated a bunch of jigsaw puzzles and board games
- cleaned out cabinets in the laundry room - they were black holes, where crap went in and never came out. The contents were embarrassing (bathroom paint - two colors ago!)
- Organized things in my newly freed-up space - beach towels in a tub (instead of jammed on a shelf); computer components in one place; painting supplies in the laundry cabinets
- emptied the storage space under the stairs and reorganized (tossed/donated a lot).
It really does feel wonderful - especially when I open a door and see how nice it looks now! And once you get started, it is easier to continue, especially if you are able to let go of things that don't have as much sentimental value as you thought they did.
If the chips are down, the buffalo is empty.