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Questions About “Stuff”

I was thinking about minimalism a lot lately because of people Colin and Everett and how I can apply it to my life. These guys love living with less than 100 things.Although it’s alluring to live a life like that, I’ve said in a previous post that I wouldn’t be able to do that. My interests and what I do on a regular basis aren’t compatible with a life with less than 100 things.Even if I can’t have less than 100 things, it’s still a incredibly good inspiration to get rid of some of the things I’ve got sitting around. If these guys can lead awesome lives with less than 100, I should be able to with less than what I’ve got now, right?Why?If just being able to travel around the world with a carry on bag isn’t enough for you to start tossing excess stuff, maybe a few other practical reasons might help. These are some other good side effects of having less stuff.

  • When there is less stuff it’s easier to clean. Fewer things mean less stuff is out of place at any one time. If you only have a few things, then you put a few things away and you’re done.
  • It’s easier to find things. The less stuff you have the less there is to look through when you need to find something. You’ll spend less time looking for things because you don’t own them any more.
  • You’ll have less stuff to worry about. Ever sit and try to figure out how things look best in a space? It’s harder with more stuff. You won’t have to see what doodads or thingy’s fit with a colour scheme in a room because you won’t have any doodads or thingy’s. Another benefit to this is your place is ever broken into, there is less stuff to take. The downside to this that those few things are probably very important.

Where to start?Ok, so you’ve got a house full of stuff. How do you decide what stays and what goes? Where do you start?Question Everything. The first step to figuring out what you want to keep and what you don’t is questioning every single thing in your house. Things that have been there forever may not need to be there. Does that desk need to be there? Do you need those chairs? Do you really need all those shoes? What would happen if you just got rid of all those files and books? It’s like an interview with everything that’s not attached to the house. Every single thing needs to be questioned and needs to have a very good reason for staying.Anything that could possible come into the house needs to be questioned as well. Buying something for the house? Do you really need it? Could you make do without it? What does it accomplish? Try and wait a month and see if you really need it. What happened? Nothing? You didn’t really need it.Everything needs a home. This is one of my favorites. If you don’t have much stuff it might not help much but if you have a lot and need to start organizing, it’s a great way to get moving. It basically means that every single thing that you have in your home needs a permanent place to live. It’s probably where everything goes when your place is perfectly clean and tidy. Everything is in it’s place. Nothing is uncluttered. If you find something that doesn’t have a home, find a good home for it or get rid of it. A good home is not on the floor or the counter looking cluttered. It’s a permanent, tidy home that is always available to store that thing. It can’t be shared with anything else. Until every single thing you own has a home, you have too much stuff.Just buy another one. So you’ve got  box of stuff you haven’t used in ages. You’re not sure what to do with it. You don’t want to get rid of it in case you need to use something from it. Ask yourself this: How hard is it to buy another one? Can you just walk to the store and buy another? Get rid of it.Remember why you have it. Pick up something near you. Anything. Can you remember why you have it? Is there a good reason why you have it? Maybe a friend or family member gave it to you as a present. Maybe you got it because it was on sale. Maybe you thought it would look amazing with the painting you don’t have any more. Nail down the reason why you have it and if it’s not a good one, get rid of it.Don’t be lazy. Most people own a lot of stuff because it saves them time. It makes doing something more convenient for them. A lot of the time these items overlap each other and we could be doing a couple things with just one item, or we buy something and it takes the place of a few other things but we still have that other stuff. Buy things that are high quality and can do multiple things.  If you can buy 4 things or 1, just get the 1.Another point to this is that a lot of people are afraid of work. They don’t want to do what they don’t have to so they buy lots of stuff to do the work for them. How much time does it save really? How much money could you have saved by just not buying it? There are some things that are a mixed blessing. Like cars. I try not to drive as much as possibl. My truck is multi-purpose though and allows me to get around offroad to the secluded places I like to hike and bike. During the week, I walk to work and try to batch trips places I drive as much as possible.Do it again. I went through many rounds of cleaning and getting rid of things. I feel like I’m getting close to a level where I use everything I own regularly. It’s an iterative process though. Go through everything you have once and get rid of what you can. Then, start the process over again and go through everything that’s left. You’ll gain momentum each time you do this and become more critical of what you’ve got. Eventually you’ll be able to easily look at something and keep it or leave it and know you’ve made the right choice.No matter how much stuff you have, you can always benefit with less. It is hard figuring out what you can and can’t live without but it all starts with questioning what you’ve got then getting rid of what you can.