Tag Archives: stuff

Time

http://www.flickr.com/photos/domesticnoise/8384606246/sizes/m/in/photostream/

As many of you know I tend to have a lot of jobs.  I do quite a bit of contract work and often have as many as 6 different jobs at any given time.  This may seem like it takes every waking minute but as it turns out I have more time to do the things I want to do than many people I know.  There are lots of reasons for this and mostly it’s a function of me being smarter about my time and how I manage my time than I was in the past.

Sometimes this comes down to rules I have for myself.  There aren’t many of these but today’s Ten Things post directly relates to one of them.  I keep everything I need to do in my outlook calendar… no more to do lists (which is a topic for another time).  And with that there is a rule.

If I delay/move a task 3 times I take it off my calendar.

Let’s face it, if I can move it 3 times it’s pretty likely it doesn’t need to be done as I’ve lived thus far without doing it.  It also likely isn’t a priority for my life and time, and isn’t likely to happen no matter how many times I move it.  So why keep fooling myself.  “Do or do not, there is no try.”

In this case I’ve been carrying around cassette tapes forever.  My plan was to go through them, find the ones that I haven’t purchased as digital music and then either list that somewhere or buy them.  But really, why would I want to spend my time doing that?

I’ve lived pretty well without this music for about 10 years now (the amount of time I estimate I’ve not had a cassette player).  And sure, some mixed tapes from the past will be gone forever.  But also gone is a task that has been on the list for so long it’s ludicrous.

Just like those things we keep for that mystical time in the future when we’ll use them, sometimes we keep tasks around for that mystical time in the future when they’ll actually get done.

Photo from domesticnoise

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Getting Rid of the Important Stuff

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There are certain things on my ditch list that are particularly hard to part with.  It’s not that these things have any usefulness.  In most cases it’s simply that I paid a lot for them or have fond memories of them.  Again, thanks Mom for giving me all my childhood stuff…

A year or so ago I gave away my childhood rocking chair.  I’d rocked the crap out of that chair and for that reason ditching it at the Goodwill just wasn’t an option.  Fortunately friends have kids and now there’s another tiny person rocking out in my old chair.  That’s a win for everyone in my book and parting with these memorable items is doable when there’s a connection to where it’s going.

Just this week my bestest friend from childhood messaged me on Facebook:

Kate: “Last night while I was reading a Christmas book to my son they had a train that went around the tree. I had to tell him the story of your giant house and giant train that went through your living room.”

Me: “ha!  well here’s a question. Do you want that train?  I have it upstairs and it’s going somewhere… I’d love it to go to you if you’d want it (and no big deal if you don’t)… and it’s really not that big of a train, though I remembered it that way too until I opened it up as an adult!!”

How awesome is that?  Now new little people will have memories of gigantic trains and I have one less memorable thing I have to deal with.  Sure, I could have sold it but it’s so much more meaningful to have given this childhood thing to someone who also has memories of it, and who will make new memories with it.

I also gave away some special PVC tubing joints and what not that were expensive but mostly useless to me.  I’d kept them because you can’t get them at a hardware store and I “just might need them”.  Now they belong to someone who will likely build a rocket with them… or at least do something with them.  Hopefully we’ll go to the moon for some cheese…


Taking Action

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Well I’d love to pretend that I did some sort of amazing purge of stuff this last week but with only a few days to get my ten things I went for the low hanging fruit.

First I gave away two Thermarests and a chair kit for them to a good friend.  I can no longer use them as they aren’t thick enough for my sad back and while it seemed so crazy to give away something “valuable” like this I’d rather see these go to a good home then never be used in my attic.  It’s funny isn’t it how things that were useful in the past are so difficult to get rid of even when we know they’ll not be useful again.

Secondly came what felt like the big cheat.  Books.  I have a LOT of books.  But the really interesting thing is that there were fewer books on my bookshelf that I wanted to give away than I would have expected.  No, not because there were books that were simply too cherished to give away.  No, there were simply a huge number of books I’ve never read.  I can’t tell you how many times I go to the bookstore to get a book as I simply must have something to read when right in my own home there are tons of “good books” that I’ve never cracked open.

Pretty eye-opening to see myself buying things I literally don’t need.

Don’t get me wrong, I love books and when I can’t get something from the library I likely will still buy it.  But I think for now I’ll just keep a list and get those after I’ve gone through the endless books I already have!

I should note that these books have yet to leave my house.  I find I get great used book rates in Portland at Powell’s, allowing me a new book or two without spending a dime so these will stay in my home in their bag ready to go until my next trip south.  I expect I’ll be adding a lot more to them soon!

What were your ten things for the week?


Ten Things: The “Rules”

The Ten Things Challenge

If you’re like most people in America you have far more things than you need.  The clutter can become overwhelming and more importantly you’re spending time and money maintaining these things (cleaning, buying things to store things, you name it).  So what would life be like if you had fewer things?  That’s the point of the 10 things challenge.

Here are the basics:

Every week you get rid of ten things.  These things can go to the goodwill, be put up on Freecycle, sold on eBay or Craigslist or put in the trash, given to a friend, whatever.  They just need to leave your home.  They can be big things, small things, whatever.  The choice of what it is and how you count them is up to you.  That old car you never drive?  That’s a thing!  That single sock you’ve been saving for a year hoping to find its mate?  That’s a thing!  Within reason there’s nothing too small or too big.  If it feels like a countable thing to you it is.

Sometimes things  take a while to leave.  If you’re selling something it might not be sold and shipped in one week’s time.  That’s OK but you must have put ads up on whatever site you intend on using to sell them.  If they don’t sell you’ll likely want to lower the price or consider donating instead.  It’s not OK to have “gotten rid of a thing” by having it on endless sale on eBay for a price no one will ever pay!  Remember, this is about decluttering and your home, so don’t cheat yourself by not really getting rid of a thing.

You can do more but not less.  Part of the challenge is to declutter but another aspect is looking at all this stuff we have and if we truly “need” it.  As most know getting more stuff doesn’t buy us happiness but it can buy us lots of debt and unhappiness.  By being more mindful of the things we’ve accumulated we can hopefully become more mindful when we think about getting more.  Creating a new habit requires regular practice so don’t cheat yourself by skipping weeks or doing this only once a month.  At some point you may have decluttered as much as you want.  That’s great!  It’s time to stop but until that time be true to yourself and the challenge by getting rid of ten things every single week.

If you’re going on a long vacation or have to be away for a while feel free to bank up extra stuff before or after your journey.  You can also choose to skip if that’s more appropriate for you.  You might even declutter on your vacation by donating things you no longer need rather than bringing them back home!

Don’t use this as an excuse to go out and get a bunch more stuff.  The goal is to have less in your home, not more or the same.  A good rule of thumb (for everything other than food, tp, etc) is one in one out.  Bring home a new magazine?  Add an extra item to your 10 things this week.  Bring home a new kitchen appliance?  Make room for it by getting rid of something in the cupboard you never use.

These aren’t really rules.  This is about you, your home, your stuff, your mental state and what makes you happy.  The above are simply suggestions based on psychological research regarding habit that seems to be a good place to start.  Want to do more items each week?  Awesome!  10 is too much?  Really? If so that’s OK too.  Be consistent and if you change the above “rules” write them down for yourself so you can be true to them in the future.

This challenge is inspired by many different books on simplicity, downsizing, and happiness but most recently by this book.  Check it out from the library (or buy it and then sell it!)

You can learn more about the author Tammy Strobel on her blog rowdy kittens.


Freedom.

For quite some time now I’ve wanted to move to Europe.  There’s been a number of things stopping me.  Do I really want to leave my homeland?  Will I like Europe as much as I think I will?  And most importantly, what do I do with all this stuff?

Some of these questions have been answered.  Yes, I love Europe.  No, I don’t want to burn bridges here so maybe I’ll rent my house or buy something cheaper in a smaller community.  But there’s one thing I’ve not dealt with.  My stuff.

Like virtually all Americans I have a lot of stuff.  I have stuff from all the crafty things I do and all the crafty things I intended to do and all the crafty things I used to do.  I have sports equipment from all the sports I do, did and think I’ll do again.

And hardest, I have all the stuff from my childhood my mother gave me when she decluttered.  Thanks a lot mom.  Things like Christmas decorations I remember loving as a child.  Baby shoes, toys and other things that used to be a very big part of my life… 35 years ago.  Things that take up space, aren’t ever used and yet still live in my attic like some inanimate ghost of Christmas past.

But as I read this book I realized that if I really do want to move, if I really do want to simplify my life then this stuff needs to go.  My stuff costs me.  Containers are needed to store and organize said stuff.  Buying plastic stuff to store plastic stuff!  It’s the American way!  I feel like I should be wearing a June Cleaver dress while doing this tidying even though June didn’t have nearly the amount of crap or “need” for plastic storage containers that I have.

My stuff gives me junk to clean around and makes my house cluttered.  That makes me not want to be there and that costs me in the form of a huge coffee-house expenditures.  Without this stuff I could either close off my extra home space and not heat it or possibly rent a room or two.  My junk is expensive.

But more importantly the junk in my attic has been there since my ex-husband (then my boyfriend) and I moved in to this house.  Yes, a marriage has come and gone and this stuff stays where it is, boxed up because lord knows someday I just might want it!

At some point though I have to ask myself what I really want from my life.  Do I want ancient keepsakes that stay in boxes where I’ll never see or use them?  Do I want old toys that I’ll never play with to keep for… kids I’ll never have?  Why?  And what would it feel like to have things I need, use and want and little more?

I can tell you the answer to that.  It would feel like freedom.

So tomorrow I begin the Ten Things Challenge to free me from stuff I no longer need or want to carry with me.  Rather than doing some huge painful purge I’ll be ditching ten unnecessary, unused or unwanted things each week and writing a bit about it.

I’ll post the “rules” tomorrow if you’d like to join me.  What do you have to lose?