Recently, I completely cleaned out my entire living space. I gutted my closet, I empty out my dresser, I tore apart everything in my bookshelf only keeping the things that I really need and use often. This was the finishing of a mission that I started all the way back in August of 2014. A mission that would allow me to get rid of everything that didn’t matter to me – that I didn’t use everyday. I wanted to do this because I felt as if the physical clutter in my life was distracting me from other things that were more important. It was dragging me down and kept me from reaching my full potential both in the realm of entrepreneurship and personal relationships. Thus, I wanted it gone. In this post, I’m going to outline what I mean by “stuff” and getting rid of it, some of the leading factors that brought me to get rid of a lot of my possessions, and how I went about doing it.
What is “Stuff” to me?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I like things. I’m a guy that is going to buy a super car one day, and most likely have a big penthouse in L.A. So, I don’t want you to think that I’m downsizing things so much to a point that all I have is two shirts, and pair of jeans, and laptop. No, I’ve still got a 3 monitor gaming computer setup, I’ve still got a TV, I’ve still got childhood toys and memories that I’ve held on to. “Stuff”, to me, are things that don’t provide any value in my life and have very little to no value as far as emotional connection or memories. Additionally, a lot of things that I’ve kept over the years deal with paper that will deteriorate and go away over time. For this stuff, you can get rid of it and just take a picture. That way, it can’t deteriorate and it stops taking up space. With that being said, that is “Stuff” – things that provide no value whether emotional or quality of life related.
What made me start throwing “Stuff” out?
In all honesty, there wasn’t really one specific thing, event, or circumstance that led to me getting rid of everything. It just kind of happened one morning. The night before, I had been reading The Minimalists blog as I new I wanted to get rid of things. I just didn’t know how to get started, and while I didn’t want to go as extreme as they had, I did, and had for a long time, feel like there was a lot of reminisce of previous chapters of my life that were adding zero value to where I was currently in life. Things that just sat where they were never to be used again. This “Stuff” killed my motivation and made me feel down at times. Why? Because I LOVE open space, and when you’ve got a lot of clutter, there is less open space. With what I had found on The Minimalists in mind, I woke up the next morning on a mission to take action. I was going to start cleaning out my closest. I wasn’t going to clean it all out. Just a part of it to get me started. I knew that once I got a taste, I couldn’t help but finish. That turned out to be the case.
What did I do to get rid of over half my “Stuff?
As I just mentioned, one of the best things I did was just get started and getting started small was very important. I didn’t say I wanted to clean out my entire closet. I said that all I wanted to do was clean out one shelf in my closet. That is it. Not the entire thing. That would have been much to overwhelming at first. By just tackling one self in my closet, the process only took half the day, and after it was done, I felt great. I had now taken a shelf that was packed full and made it almost completely empty. All that was on it now was a box of a few items that had emotional value that I was keeping. That was it, and it felt awesome. My plan had worked, and I was completely hooked. I wanted to get rid of EVERYTHING, but I knew I had to wait. I needed to take a break. Getting rid of too much stuff, especially stuff that has emotional value, at one time, can and will become overwhelming. Thus, I need to take a break, and I did. A long break.
Forget about selling things. Selling stuff takes time and usually is more trouble than it’s worth. I don’t even consider selling something unless I know I can sell it in less than one month and make more than $20 from it. If I can’t sell something in one month, it gets donated to Goodwill or a similar charitable organization instantly getting out of my life forever.
I didn’t start cleaning things out again until the middle of November almost two months after my first push. This time, I cleaned out all of the drawers, and cabinets that held a lot of things from my childhood. Of all the things that were located in these drawers and cabinets, I only kept 1/4 of a drawer full of things. That is it. This was a big deal, and you better believe that I took a lot of pictures of old things that had some memories from my childhood. Overall though, I gave them away because they can now create more awesome memories for kids of the current generation. I was almost done cleaning everything out, but just like the last time I did extreme cleaning and clearing things out, I took a break.
The final time that I have to do excessive throwing/giving away of “Stuff” was right before the New Year when we completely remodeled my room/office from the ground up. By ground up I mean we literally put down a new ground – brand new laminate flooring. As you may guess, when you put down new flooring, you’ve got to get everything up off of the floor. Thus, I had to clean out everything that was left. I cleaned out all of the junk under my desk, finished off my closet, and completely gutted my dresser, and with that and two trips to Goodwill later, I was done.
Now, all I need to do is revisit everything once a month to make sure I don’t have a clutter explosion again. Things add up over time. It almost never appears all at once. For this reason, you need to stay on top of it once you have accomplished the goal of getting rid of “Stuff”. Once it’s gone, keep up with it every month to make sure it doesn’t come back.
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