Take a look around you. Every single item you see represents your choice to have that item in your life. You either chose to purchase the item, or were given the item and chose to keep it. From your new red sweater to the pile of junk mail on your kitchen counter, every item represents a choice made.
When your life is full of clutter, you might begin to resent all the “stuff” around you. Why do you think that happens? Often it is because you don’t LOVE the stuff you are looking at! Maybe the sweater doesn’t fit anymore. Maybe it was an impulse purchase that you now regret. Sometimes we purchase too much of a good thing – who really needs five staplers? – because it is much easier to buy the thing we need than find it in the junk yard that has become our home or office. When someone sends a gift or just gives us something we “have to” have, we often feel obligated to keep it “for a little while.” Let me tell you, I’ve met plenty of people whose “little while” is now 5+ years.
Make a choice NOW to change things. Start small. Pick five items around you. If you don’t absolutely love the item, find it useful/functional, or it doesn’t add beauty to your environment, get rid of it. Ebay, CraigsList, yard sale, trash can. I don’t care – let it go. It doesn’t matter if you paid $100 for it. If you have the receipt, take it back. No receipt? Ebay or donate it. Your peace of mind is more important than $100.
What items are you holding on to that you need to let go of?
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I’ve been blogging for over eight years. A couple years back, through a friend’s blog I believe, I found Waving or Drowning? Lately I have been checking in on those old blogs I used to read. On Monday, I found a great post on the site called “A Theology of Enough.” In his post, Mike quotes an author I’m unfamiliar with – William T. Cavanaugh, author of Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire.
“Detachment tends to characterize our attitudes towards the products we buy. Far from obsessively clinging to our stuff, we tend to buy and discard products easily. We don’t make them ourselves or have any connection to the people that make them; increasingly we have no connection to the people that sell them either, as small local businesses are replaced by gigantic chain retailers. Under these conditions, our connections to products become very tenuous and fleeting as well. The products we buy are mute about their origins, and the people we buy them from can tell us little.
…Such relationships are not made to last. There would not be a market for all the goods that are produced in an industrialized economy if consumers were content with the things they bought. Consumer desire must be constantly on the move. We must continually desire new things in order for consumption to keep pace with production. The ‘extreme makeover’ is an ongoing process in the search for novelty, for bigger and better, for new and improves, and for different experiences. The shaving razor with one blade had to be supplanted by the double-bladed razor, which was bested by three blades, then four, and now an absurd five on one razor.
This is more than a continuing attempt to make a product better; it is what General Motors called ‘the organized creation of dissatisfaction.’ How can we be content with a razor with a mere two blades when the current standard is five?… The economy as it is currently structured would grind to a halt if we ever looked at our stuff and simply declared, ‘It is enough. I am happy with what I have.'”
Christian or not, Cavanaugh gives us something really important to think about (especially those of us living in incredibly consumerist, materialistic America). This definitely provides some motivation for me as I start the 100 Things Challenge. Figuring out what’s important to me while I am deciding what to get rid of AND while I make purchasing decisions.
I am definitely ready to say “It is enough. I am happy with what I have.”
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Harboring an an excess of stuff can definitely be a downer. Clutter often effects people in ways they don’t realize. A cluttered environment can often deplete your energy, put a damper in your productivity, and in general, can bring on negative stress and unnecessary frustration.
The following is a suggested list of ten things you can get rid of today that will help create a little more space in your life.
- Trash. Empty your trash cans on a regular basis. Gather up trash that’s laying around and throw it out.
- Junk mail. Need I say more? Okay, I will. Get rid of your junk mail. Sale papers from stores you don’t shop at, credit card offers, and other junk that comes in the mail – get rid of it immediately to avoid a pileup.
- Items you no longer like. If you bought a shirt you once loved, but not it’s out of style, or you just don’t like it, there’s no reason to hold on to it. Ask a friend if they’d like it, or donate it. If you have a lot of items you no longer like, combine them with the things that fall into the next category and have a yard sale!
- Items you no longer need or that have become useless to you. Just like items you no longer like, if you bought something at one point because you needed it, but you know you really don’t need it any more, donate it, sell it, or if you know someone who (genuinely) needs it, you can ask if they’d like to have it.
- Outdated materials. Old store sales papers, catalogs, periodicals, event invitations, coupons – these are all perfect examples of irrelevant material than can become overwhelming if we let it pile up. Recycle it!
- Duplicates and excess “stuff”. I’ve walked into many situations with clients where we’ve come across 10 pairs of scissors, five staplers, and even a couple of irons. I’ve fallen victim to this myself – you don’t remember you have something, or you can’t find it, so you just buy another one. Well, not only is that a waste of money, but now you’re left with more stuff taking up space than is really needed. Pick the best pair or two of scissors and get rid of the rest. If you have way too many pens, just keep the ones that write the best. Only keep the stapler that doesn’t keep getting jammed.
- Free giveaways or tchotchkes. Just because it was free doesn’t mean you need to keep it. If you collect free stuff from festivals, meetings, conferences, or from people who just give you stuff in passing, you are in no way obligated to keep it. I must admit, there are some clever tchotchkes out there, but appreciate it, have your laugh, and let it go.
- Things that no longer work. If that toaster isn’t working – get rid of it. Toasters are inexpensive, you can get another one if you need to. I know an older woman, approaching her 90’s, who is of the mindset of getting things fixed. She recently paid $350 to get her TV repaired. First off, the repair man should have, in my opinion, told her that her TV wasn’t worth $350. He chose to take advantage of her instead. No one would buy that TV for $350 if you tried to sell it, and she could have purchased a much better (and lighter) television set for less money. When she moved in with her daughter a month later, she had to give the TV away. If your kid’s toy is broken, please get rid of it. Old broken cell phone? Donate or recycle it to an organization like CollectiveGood, please.
- Things you keep in your off-site storage unit. Why are you paying for storage? I suppose for some people out there, legitimate reasons exist. But if you rarely visit your storage unit, how important is the stuff you are keeping in there? I had a storage unit once. I was living in a studio apartment and maintaining a storage unit to the tune of $80/month. While I did go every once in a while to retrieve things, my mom pointed out that I could put that money toward a bigger place. That made sense. Did I get a bigger place? No, I just got rid of the stuff in storage because I realized it wasn’t important enough to want to move it all in with me.
- Items that have negative associations. I mentioned this in my 10 Minutes, 10 Days series. Keeping items that bring up negative emotions for you continue to stir those emotions whenever you encounter them. Free yourself from the negativity by letting go of these items.
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I was playing around on the internet, reading lots of different things (as usual), when I came upon Greenopolis.com . The particular article I found on there was called “Can You Live with Just 100 Things?”
Do you have clutter in your home, your office or your life? Chances are you do. At one point or another we’ve all had a moment when we realized the sheer amount of stuff we have in our lives. Well, there is a growing number of people that are doing something about this, and de-cluttering their lives. It’s called the 100 Things movement, and the challenge is to reduce your possessions to 100 things (or less). Sound tough? It sure is.
The article eventually linked back to a Time Magazine article called “How to Live With Just 100 Things.” Apparently, this 100 Things challenge is a movement – and a great one at that if you ask me! Slowly ridding myself of more and more possessions is something I’ve been working on for a while. I never had a specific number of items in mind to keep, and I don’t know if I’ll get down to 100, but maybe I could get down to 100 and am just making excuses as to why I can’t (I have two business. If each book I own counts, that’s a real drag. I have what? Hundreds?), but it’d definitely something to strive for.
The guy who sparked this movement is named Dave Bruno. This movement is a great example of what can happen when you put a great idea in your blog, people see it, and then it spreads like wildfire. On his blog, Dave explains his personal challenge and how the challenge got started and what it’s all about.
I personally plan to take part, and keep track of my challenge. I know this will be tough for me, so I am definitely on the look out for an accountability partner!
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Clutter (verb): to fill or cover with scattered or disordered things that impede movement or reduce effectiveness <a room cluttered with toys>
Clutter (noun): 1 a: a crowded or confused mass or collection b: things that clutter a place
Clutter may refer to any of the following:
Excessive physical disorder:
- A confusing or disorderly state or collection; or the creation thereof. Excessive, unnecessary or uncontrolled clutter can be a symptom of compulsive hoarding.
Clutter can be a real pain. I actually say that figuratively, but for some people, the clutter in their lives can become so out of control and overwhelming that they do end up in pain – emotional pain (stress, depression) and physical pain (slips/trips/falls, cuts and scrapes, etc).
Getting rid of clutter can make you feel so much better about your life. Trust me – I know! I could talk for days about the benefits of getting rid of clutter, but why not try the following for me, ok?
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