How to Declutter: My Uncluttering Manifesto
In college, and shortly thereafter, I wasn’t the best with money. I spent entirely too much needlessly upgrading my computer to the latest hardware for no real reason. Like many who come into some funds with a first job after college, I wasn’t the most thoughtful about where I spent my money. It didn’t take too long for that to change though. It wasn’t long before I realized I had accumulated more than I wanted and needed to declutter.
Three months after I graduated college, my mom unexpectedly passed away. The entire next year of my life was spent driving two hours each weekend to her now empty house and going through her life’s possessions and looking back on the home I grew up in for 22 years. During this time I made the decision to save a great many possessions of hers that I couldn’t push myself to part with. Still today I am sorting through this inheritance deciding what I want to keep for the rest of my life, and what is a memory I can save without the physical representation.
Since then one goal on my mind has been to go through and minimize the clutter in my life. This applies to both my thoughts on avoiding lifestyle inflation and acquiring new stuff and getting rid of anything unused. For instance, for every physical book brought home, I make sure at least 3 are removed. I try to follow a similar approach for everything I bring home — with the goal that whenever I bring something home for good, I donate or sell something to offset the addition.
You’re not going to find many who disagree with the sentiment that experiences and relationships are the most important part of life. In my own experience, it is easier to focus on this when your life is in order. In my case that meant fixing up and selling my mom’s old house, as well as simplifying my schedule to only those things that mattered most to me. I’ve found the less clutter I have in my life, the more open I am open to new experiences.
The end result of all this is that as you become more restrictive when it comes to acquiring possessions, you can become more open when it comes to new experiences. The risk, for me at least, is not leaning too much to the side of novelty in pursuing too many experiences.
How many things do you own that you could get rid of? Do you think you could eliminate enough possessions to where you were down to 100 things? If so, you might want to attempt the 100 Thing Challenge. The idea is simple — eliminate clutter from your life to the point where you only own 100 things (though some things you could own multiple copies of — like shirts or pants.
Do you think you can make it down to 100 things? Do you think it would make you happier?