Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Uncluttering The Keys

One of my New Year's Resolutions was (and is) to unclutter my life. I honestly think clutter (in any form) is disruptive on multiple levels. So I continue to try to find ways to streamline my world and diminish the burden on my poor tattered braincells.

This week, I tackled something completely new. I uncluttered my keychain. I think I have accumulated almost 20 years worth of cruft and carried it around in my pocket without ever giving it any thought. But yesterday I looked at the jumbled hunk of jingling iron and said: "Wait a second, I don't need that any more!" And a few minutes later, I had a much more organized and much lighter keychain.

To unclutter, I used three main techniques:
  1. Line up the links: I never realized it, but I had about 11 rings and they were strung off each other with no rhyme or reason at all. It was a sprawling explosion of loops that had clearly grown out of control. So I unhooked EVERYTHING, eliminated un-needed rings, and lined them up neatly next to each other, in a continuous chain.
  2. Reduce, reduce, reduce: I had items on my keychain that I would never (under any circumstances) use again. Never. No way. Those had to go. And I also had too many rings with just one item on them. Those had to go, too.  
  3. Create functional groups: Previously I had everything spread everywhere. Pure, unadulterated chaos lurking in my pocket. I switched to three functional groups: car keys, work keys, and home keys. That's it. My entire life summed up in three simple groups. 
When I was done, I was left with only four rings (more than 50% reduction!) I had removed several items that I should not have been carrying this decade. There were neatly lined up without any chance of folding upon themselves. And it all made a lot more sense when I looked at it. From left to right, here's what I had left:  my car ring (includes a trinket from Liam and my new Gerber Artifact), my house ring, my work ring, and Cindy's car's ring (includes my Blockbuster fob and my much-beloved Utilikey.)

I removed an entire ring's worth of items: At one o'clock is an ancient RFID fob that used to get me into the front door at a dotBomb. At three o'clock in my first Corby Key that opened the door to the MindSpring NOC. At six o'clock is an old tarnished key that opens a steamer trunk I've had for 20 years. And at nine o'clock is a small key for a luggage lock I haven't used since I married Cindy. Unseen but also removed were five unused rings, two plastic fobs for gyms (one in Atlanta!) that I don't have memberships to, and a beer bottle opener from my days of slinging drinks in college.

One small facet of my life gets uncluttered.

A couple million left to go.

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