Thursday, April 25, 2013

the most effective tip for stuff-purging

You know that moment when you look around your house or dorm or apartment or room or whatever, and you think, "I have too much stuff!  I need to get rid of some stuff."  And then you start going through things and asking yourself, "Can I live without this?"  At first you think you're doing pretty well, but then you notice your "Keep" pile dwarfing your "Trash" pile...and pretty soon you start pulling things back out of the "Trash" pile because you can't live without it!

It's all in the mindset.  Stopping the packrat penchant can be as easy as changing how you think.

Don't ask, "What can I get rid of?"  This moves your focus to what you're going to lack.  It also makes you pick and choose out things, which means you're having to actively reject everything you get rid of.  That can be hard!

Do ask, "What is absolutely the most important to me?"  If your house was burning down, what would you grab?  If you lived in the pioneer days and you were about to move across country in a covered wagon, what could you fit in?  What would make the cut?  This switches your focus to the positive side, while making you pick and choose what you really love. 

Don't ask, "Can I get any more use out of this?"  The answer is almost always yes.  You could take that old T-shirt and turn it into a bandana...or a pillowcase...or cleaning rags.  And yes, recycling and upcycling and refashioning is great, but not when it's going to become a stack of projects that you never get around to.  If you're not going to address the item immediately, just go ahead and toss it.

Do ask, "How often have I used this in the past week/month?"  If something hangs in the back of your closet untouched for a year, it's time for it to go.  It's up to you how extreme you go with this, especially since some things are seasonal and are only in use normally for half the year.  Be wary of these things.  Try to buy versatile staple items that are flexible and adaptable. 

Don't pretend to care about something or let yourself be pressured into keeping it.  I throw away basically all of the birthday cards I get and the vast majority of my childhood projects.  I'm not sentimental.  My mom is sometimes a little worried that I'll regret it later, but I've yet to experience that.  I usually let my subconscious choose whether something stays or goes. 

Do make a list, and then revise it.  Actually writing out a list of everything you keep or own can draw attention to where you have excess.  Day to day, a lot of stuff can be shoved under the bed or into the closet, where it doesn't confront us.  After you make your list, go through it again and try to cross off things, and then follow through by getting rid of them. 

How do you think about decluttering and downsizing?  Do you stuff-purge all at once, a few times a year, or continuously?