Organizing our things is important. It is helpful to know where things are stored and how to easily access them. But let”™s be honest with ourselves, organizing is always only a temporary solution. We organize our things and find new storage solutions today”¦ but are left again tomorrow, doing the exact same thing.
Finding better ways to organize our stuff holds some benefit, but that benefit is fleeting at best.
However, when we take the step of fully removing from our possession the items we do not need, we find permanent, longer-lasting benefits.
Minimizing possessions is an act of permanence because they are removed from our care entirely. It lays the groundwork for overcoming consumerism altogether. This step of intentionally living with less forces questions of values and purpose. And it provides the opportunity to live life pursuing our greatest passions.
Minimizing is always better than organizing. (tweet that).
How then do we accomplish this in our unique living space in a way that aligns with our lifestyle? We accomplish this room-by-room physically handling each and every item in our possession. And we learn to ask better questions.
In fact, almost all of decluttering comes down to asking ourselves only two questions…
And the two questions?
Do I need this?
Why do I have this?
Frustrating is a word that I would use to describe the current experience with decluttering our home. I keep a list of core values — I’ve maintained such a list since 1989 — and one of those core values includes the following:
IÂ have order in my life at all times
I maintain a sense of order in all aspects of my life. My physical surroundings are always clean, organizedÂ and structured so that they bring calm into my life.
Our physical surroundings are typically clean, organized and structured. Except for some of those areas hidden from view. We have a storage room in our lower level that is full of boxes and unused stuff from when we first moved to our current home almost eight years ago.
And, after almost 37 years of married life, we have purchased and maintained too many things. This wasn’t deliberate on our part. It was just an outcome of starting a family, buying a house and then buying stuff. Year after year. Buying stuff.
Over time, stuff really adds up.
Then it becomes frustrating when you realize you have way too much stuff. Particularly when it goes against a core value.
I’ve been tackling the easier part of the decluttering challenge first. Dealing with papers, magazines and books.
Although a bit time consuming, I have been digitizing the papers that are important memories to me. With roughly 40 or so bankers boxes, it does take a bit of effort to go through the papers. I scan them right into Evernote using a Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500. One notebook — Memories — and very simple tagging. Usually just the year. The memories are captured in digital form and take up very little space. Three hard drives mind you. I follow the same disciplined backup practices with digital files as I do with digital photographs.
Magazines that I have collected over the past 30 years or more? Tossed. I’m not sure why I thought I had to storeÂ them all of these years.
Books are tougher to let go. For whatever reason, I have this strange emotional connection to books.
I was, and I still am, an avid reader. I generally read 50 plus books a year. Because most of the books that I read are books with great content, I thought it would be cool to have my own library. To keep the books handy.
You know, in case I want to read them again.
We now have somewhere in excess of 40 or so large containers filled with books. Those containers haven’t been opened since we moved them here almost eight years ago.
So much for reading them again.
We are going through them and deciding whether any of the books might be useful to our kids. Otherwise, they are being donated or tossed.
Minimizing is always better than organizing.
I am trying to get us decluttered by the end of February.
The next part is a bit harder. There is a lot of other stuff that won’t be quite as easy to process as paper, magazines and books.
Wish me luck.