If your answer was ‘too much’ then the chances are that you have used the future use excuse.
… i.e. “I might need that someday.”
In this article I’d like to take a moment to discuss with you the idea of removing clutter from your life.
Ideally, I’d like to convey the message that when you remove clutter (which we’ll take to mean things you don’t really need) then you make not just more space physically but mentally too.
Decluttering Using Numbers
Can you put a number on how many possessions you have?
How easy would it be to halve that number?
Well, for starters if you give it a number, probably a lot easier than if you don’t.
There have been quite a number of really interesting ‘challenges’ on various websites which encourage you to cut down the amount of stuff you have by numbers. Here are some of them:
- Courtney Carver’s Project 333
- Colleen Madsen’s 365 Less Things
- Leo Babauta’s 50 Things Challenge
- Dave Bruno’s 100 Thing Challenge
There seem to be quite a few 100 things challenges out there these days.
All very cool.
The number doesn’t matter by the way – it’s switching from not knowing what you’ve got to being conscious of what you have that is the all important switch.
It’s a Personal Thing
As I said, the number doesn’t matter.
I’m not suggesting here that you reduce your life to 50 things. Or even 100.
The point is to avoid waste and excess and be conscious of what you really want and need in life – make time for those things, look after them. Cherish them.
Personally I have few things that I don’t use but I am far from a minimalist.
I did more than halve the number of t-shirts I have (I used to have a LOT of t-shirts, and still have quite a few) – for me the determining factor is the space in a single draw I have for all of my t-shirts and polo shirts. If they don’t fit neatly in the draw, then that means I have too many and have to get rid of some. Plus, if I buy a new shirt I have to get rid of at least one old one.
(i.e. the answer is not we need more drawer/wardrobe space, it’s: we need less clothes).
As far as books are concerned, I’m still finding that a struggle, but I’m working on it…
Decluttering by Category
Common questions when looking at the subject of decluttering are “Do I have to count every item of clothing?” or “Can I count all of my books as one item?”.
I’m not sure if there is a right or wrong answer but obviously there’s no point in decluttering everything else if you still have a house full of books or clothes (or any other ‘collection’).
So if you want to start with a simple decluttering exercise, just start with one of these categories. Count every single item of clothing you have (yes you can count a pair of shoes as one item) and then make a note of that number. Now halve that.
Get rid of the 50% of your clothes that you like the least. Go on, you can do it.
3 Simple Ways To Declutter
Here are 3 simple ways to deal with the future use excuse.
Whether you are doing this by numbers (i.e. you have X items and you have decided to get rid of Y of them) or you are doing this for every item that provokes the future use excuse, try one of the following 3 methods:
1. Put it in a box – if you haven’t opened that box in a certain fixed period (I’d suggest 6 months) then get rid of it. You don’t need it.
2. Give it away – to a friend or use something like freecycle to find a good home for it – you’ll feel better about giving it up that way.
3. Sell it – if possible – the money you get from selling this particular item takes less space in your life and is going to be far more use to you than that thing you think you might possibly need in the future but almost certainly never will (and the emotional baggage that goes with it).
What It’s Like To Have Less Stuff
Having a few treasured possessions you really can’t live without means that you get to appreciate what you have more, you look after them more and you get to invest in the stuff that really matters (both physically and emotionally).
So here’s the thing.
We already agreed that removing clutter from your life frees you mentally as well as freeing up physical space…
What you’re actually doing is first of all identifying and then making room for the things that are really important in your life.