Monday, January 09, 2012

12 Changes For 2012 - #7 - De- Clutter

At what point do we have enough? What is "too much?" And at what point did we cross the line so that now the things we own have started owning us? All this stuff begins to take up too much space in the house. And even more space in my head. Do I need to get a bigger house? Or do I need to get rid of some of this stuff.

Today's suggested change is based on a practice I've slowly been adopting: Declutter! Get rid of what you do not need. And get rid of what does not have special financial / sentimental value for you. Free up space in your home. And space in your head.

Two examples of simple decluttering that have had small but marked impacts on my personal life.
  • Last year I examined my "keychain." (You know, that four pound length of steel and brass and oddities we men keep in our front pocket or dangling from our beltloops on a d-ring.) With a little thought, I realized I didn't need to keep: keys for my wife's car (which I never drive,) keys for our storage shed (which I never use,) keys for secure rooms at work (which I've used once in yrs,) a small flashlight (my phone can serve as a light) or a beer bottle opener (since I don't drink at home and bartenders open my beers.) I removed everything and had less than half of what I started with. Fewer things in my pocket. Fewer things to lose. Fewer things to think about each day.
  • This year,  I examined my wallet. (You know, that four inch thick hunk of leather, stuffed with papers and pictures we never look at, but keep stored in our back pocket causing gradual hip dysplasia as we age.) With a little thought, I realized I didn't need to keep: six months of ATM receipts, dozens of business cards from sales weasels I'd never call, business cards of my own I never handed out, and 8 different bank / credit cards (when I only used one regularly.) I bought a VERY minimalist wallet. It only holds four items. So I only carry: ID, bank card, emergency credit card, and some folded cash. It is so small and manageable that I don't notice it. Less space in my pocket. Less things to lose. Less things to think about each day.
When I'm surrounded by stray objects and mounds of unused debris, there is chaos and my mind wanders, finding it harder to focus. Decluttering and having a clean, simple environment gives me peace of mind, purity of thought.

Slowly but surely, I'm scouring my life and finding places to remove the debris. The chaos. And the older I get, the more I understand that less is more.

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