Get rid of your Stuff
- 2001 3 Oct
Once you're in the de-cluttering mode, get to the hard stuff as quickly as you can. One of the objectives is to use the momentum you've generated on the easy things to propel you into the discarding mode for the harder things.
- If you can't bear to throw it out, don't. You don't need to throw out everything! If there are some mementos of your past, or possessions that give your soul a lift, keep them (your swimming medals from high school, or that crazy vase from Aunt Ethel with the monkey on it - that puts a smile on your face every time you look at it).
- Get rid of the things that you're saving for "someday." Too many upper shelves and backs of closets are filled with possessions we don't use, but think we might someday (an old pair of cowboy boots, or an ice-crusher machine). Replacing it is probably a lot easier than maintaining the space required to store it.
- Limit the number of everything. You don't need two sets of china, or six extra bed pillows. Get rid of - and be determined not to buy - extras of anything. This gives you more space in your closets and on your shelves.
- Start over again and do it right. There probably are many things that you could get rid of and not only never miss, but be better off without. Think about your home and imagine it empty. What are the items you would really need?
- Take a picture of it. If you are keeping things merely for the memories, take a picture of the item - then get rid of it (E.g. old stuffed animals or knick-knacks from your childhood). Create a scrapbook, or a wall of framed memories.
- Never touch a piece of mail more than once. Set aside an hour at the end of the day when you can open, read, and deal with your mail...once! Consider automatic payment of monthly bills by your bank. Cut down the number of journals, magazines, and newspapers that come into your home. Subscribe only to what you really want to read - or have time to read.
- Trash the junk mail. Write the Mail Preference Service (P.O. Box 9008, Farmingdale, NY, 22735-9008) and request that your name not be sold to any mailing list companies.
- Don't save aluminum foil. Or any other little pieces of stuff that fill your drawers (stubby pencils, bits of fabric, construction left-overs, bent nails, expired coupons, or used manila envelopes). Save only the number you reasonably need.
- Use your public library. Use their free materials (books, reference materials, CDs, magazines, videotapes). This cuts down on the things you need to buy, and also gets them out of your house on their due date.
- Get some help. Ask a family member or a friend who knows you well to help you begin the process of elimination. Accept their judgment. Besides, they may need your help in getting rid of their stuff.
Reprinted from Living The Simple Life: A Guide to Scaling Down and Enjoying More by Elaine St. James. Copyright (c) 1996, Elaine St. James. Published by Hyperion, New York, N.Y.
Elaine St. James, former real estate businesswoman, is the author of Simplify Your Life and Inner Simplicity. She lives a quiet, simple life in Santa Barbara, Calif.