Simplicity can have a say in all aspects of your life. From removing unused, bloated software from your computer, to clearing the clutter in your house and workspace, to organizing your work and schedule, to, most importantly, clearing the clutter in your mind.
When I and Jyoti(my wife) were flying from New York a couple of weeks ago, we were in for a surprise at the airport. We were moving base to India and were carrying more luggage than usual. We had sold most of the stuff and were carrying only the essentials. I was sure it was less than the prescribed luggage limit. While checking in, we got to know we had about 30 pounds of extra baggage. We decided to throw certain stuff then and there, at the airport. It began as an uncalled for, stressful exercise but turned into an insightful and, quirky as it may sound, fun event.
There were certain things we were very sure we needed, and then there were some we thought we might find useful sometime in the future. All the ‘somewhat useful stuff’ went out at the airport without the slightest thought. We are not missing them at all and have a strong feeling that we are not going to miss them in the future either. We realized in the process how we get unnecessarily attached to things we possess but don’t really use. When you really look at it, it comes as a revelation how much extra baggage we carry around ourselves that adds no value but soaks away our strength and enthusiasm for life.
Here are a few tips on simplifying your life by removing physical clutter.
1. Start with a clean slate. This is a very useful tip from Francine Jay of Miss Minimalist. When you are cleaning up something, instead of trying to remove what’s unnecessary, try to put everything out and then put back only that which you find necessary. Evaluate each item separately. Does it deserve its place there?
2. Remove the unused. A lot of us keep a lot of ‘can be used’ and ‘may be used’ items. Test them against the ‘one year rule’ – have you used them in the past one year? If not, its very unlikely you are going to use them ever. Get rid of such stuff.
3. Use a removal bucket. If you are still not sure about whether to keep or get rid of something, you can use a removal bucket. Keep the item for a set amount of time(say for 2 more months or whatever you see as a reasonable time limit) and see whether you use it or not. Set up a reminder in your calender for that date. If you have not used it by then, get rid of it.
4. Does it give some unique value? If the value you are getting from an item is the same as you get from another, you have a duplicate worthy of removal. If its only news you are interested in, do you really need a TV when you already have a newspaper subscription or the internet?
5. Buy compact, multi-purpose stuff. When buying new stuff, think about whether it can be more compact. Think whether you can get something that does multi-tasking. Do you really need a food processor instead of a blender, when all you do is make smoothies? If you do only minor repairs at home, do you really need separate tools that are large and sturdy or a small, multi-tool can do for you?
What to do with the extra stuff?
Well, sell it if you can. Otherwise, the best thing to do is to give it to someone who really needs it. However, don’t hold on for ever to something just because you can’t find a worthy candidate. Some people get very particular about who is worthy and will wait till eternity to find such a person. Keep a time limit, if you can’t find someone by then, give it to the next person you find who is even slightly interested in it. If no one shows interest, its time to let it go. Throw it away. It might pinch you now but it will make you more conscious in your buying choices later.
Unnecessary clutter is a heavy burden. It gets in your way, it requires maintenance and clutters your life and your mind. A cluttered mind can’t focus on its goals. These are heavy prices to pay and should not be overlooked. Get rid of the unnecessary and feel peace, clarity and focus in your life like never before.