The Minimalist Guide to Uncluttering

October 22nd, 2009 § 0 comments

Post written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

This is the first in a series of articles I’m doing on reducing clutter in your life. Tune in tomorrow for the next installment!

Many people have too much stuff. We’re faced with endless choices in modern day society, and the most common choice is ‘yes, let’s have another.’ Another plastic knickknack, another candle holder, another footrest, another little cute bowl to put your keys in.

Take a break from this post for a second, and look around whatever room in your house you’re in. What do you see that you haven’t used in a month? In six months? In a year?

If you’re at a coffee shop, take a look inside your bag. What have you been carrying around for a month that you haven’t used?

I have a roommate currently that brings back a bag of little useless objects every day when she comes home. I had a roommate back in New York that did the same thing, except she made far more money than my current roommate, so the situation incredibly worse. Both of these roommates left their stuff all over our apartment, and then promptly forget they’d even purchased the item, as far as I could tell.

Why did you buy these things? I asked them. For someday, they replied. What use is someday if you’ve forgotten you even purchased a thing?

Think about the life-cycle of your average inexpensive mostly useless object for a second.

1, Somewhere, probably in the United States, someone has an idea: they’ll make a Useless Object, and it’ll make them rich!
2They sketch it out, they mull over it. They send the idea to their friends. Hey, that’s a good idea! I bet a bunch people would buy that and you’d make money!
3, They get a few made at a factory in the US. They seem to look good! They work perfectly at doing the useless thing that they do. Good!
4, They send their sample over to a factory in China, South Korea, or another asian country, and the factory sends a note back. Yes, we’ll make that for ten cents per Useless Object! They make five million of them.
5, Stores in America spend endless amounts of money and resources bringing these Useless Objects into American stores, where American consumers spend their hard-earned cash buying these Useless Objects because they think they will make them happy. Either that or an American consumer buys it for their friend, because they think that it’ll make them happy.

That’s the basic life-cycle of the thing you haven’t used in a month’s life. Insert the real name of your object where I put ‘Useless Object.’

The only solution to this is to stop buying. Stop indulging that little voice in the back of your head saying to you that one more object will make you happy. It won’t. You’ll be happy for fifteen minutes, and then you’ll go back to being sad.

Let me tell you a secret, that all of materialistic society doesn’t want you to know. Ready for it?

The best step you can take to be happy, right here, right now, is to stop buying useless physical objects that you think will make you happy. They will only make you sad, and make you feel more trapped by society than you already are. That and you’re spending all of your hard earned money on useless things. You’ve been deceived by advertising and people who want to make money off of you into this pattern that’s robbing you of happiness and your wealth. Isn’t that outrageous?

What’s the secret to happiness?

To make yourself happy the best thing you could do is to start eliminating the clutter in your life, to the point that you’ve pared down your possessions to the absolute necessities for your life.

This opens up a whole new can of worms, I know. You’re probably looking at all of your stuff and wondering what you can do to start getting rid of things. This isn’t going to be easy, the more clutter you have, the larger the project.

Start small.
Pick one section of your house to start decluttering. Maybe your desk, your bedroom floor, or your closet. Perhaps you have a garage or attic that’s full of stuff. Pick one corner, and start from there.

Bring a sizable box with you, and throw anything in that box that fits under this criteria:
1, You haven’t used it in a month.
2, You don’t use it regularly for your work.
3, It doesn’t belong to someone else (throwing away other people’s things will lead to confrontations. Take a moment and speak to them about the problem, and maybe send them this blog post.)

I’m ruthless when it comes to clutter. I just take it all and put it in a box, let it sit for a day to make sure I really don’t need anything, and then start figuring out how to sell, recycle, or donate the materials to people who need them.

Personally, I only have a computer bag, camera bag, a yoga mat, and seven day’s clothing. I’ve determined that this is all I need. Think about it for a second, what would your life be like if you could just pick up and go wherever you wanted, whenever you wanted?

Wouldn’t that be amazing? Yes it would.

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