01/04/2012 08:58 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How To Be Organized: Gail Blanke, Life Coach, Challenges You To Throw Out 50 Things

Flickr Photo by Helga Weber

We're offering up a New Year's challenge -- can you throw away fifty things? Before you balk at that number, think about this: according to Gail Blanke, life coach and author of Throw Out Fifty Things, fifty is the magic number. Throw away fifty things and not only will you remove some unnecessary clutter, but you'll feel as though a weight has been lifted -- you'll become a person who can let things go.

We know, we know, that all sounds fantastic, but how? Well, the key is to start small. Before you envision flinging drawers full of clothes out the window or dumping that old sofa on the front lawn, start with the drawer in your kitchen -- you know, that one full of old hair ties, crumpled receipts and mysterious keys. Then, move on to another dreaded location: the medicine cabinet. Look for expired products or near empty bottles, and throw them out. Once you get used to discarding these miscellaneous items, you can move onto to bigger things. Climb up to the attic or down to the basement and look for dust covered shelving units you haven't thought of in a year. And lastly, look for the mental mess, the grudges, anxieties or regrets you can't seem to get rid of that have been holding you down.

The most important thing is to challenge yourself, not only to throw out fifty things, but to throw out things that matter. After starting small, you need to move onto the tougher decisions. And, Gail says, that means memorabilia. Do you have full sets of your Grandmother's china sitting in a cabinet? What about old letters or ticket stubs stored away in a box? It's important to remember that the memories are in your mind and not in the items themselves. If you aren't using that china, give it away to someone who will. Sit down and look through old letters or artwork, and decide what you really want to keep. If you get nostalgic, discard the box and put those old ticket stubs and cards into a scrapbook you can flip through regularly. Try to always ask yourself if you're keeping an item because you love it, or because you think you have to.

In case you need some extra motivation, we'll start the challenge off. First thing to go? All (well, most of) the junk we photographed in our purses!

For more great advice, read Gail's full interview with Michel Martin, host of 'Tell Me More,' by visiting the National Public Radio.

Good luck and let us know what you get rid of by leaving comments below!