Tag Archives: possessions

A Plethora of Socks and Tees

I’m sure we’ve all heard the old aphorism “nature abhors a vacuum”.  I think nature also abhors a decluttered lifestyle.  I was taking stock of my clothing in preparation for a spring purge a couple days ago.  I found that I’ve somehow accumulated a lot of socks and t-shirts over the past year.

I tend to go through a couple pairs of socks in a day, one pair for daily use and one for my workouts and/or cycling.  I’ve got 18 pairs each of black daily wear socks and about 24 pairs of white exercise socks, plus two pair of tan socks (how did those get in there?).  I have a similar deal with t-shirts.  I go through at least one a day with my exercising, and I have more than I can shake a stick at.

It’s time to thin those herds.  Obviously, I’m not going to donate used socks but I can reduce the overall number by recycling and reusing the oldest and thinnest of them as cleaning rags and so forth.  My goal is 12 pair each black and white, which should be enough to get through a week, plus a buffer.  I’ll hold on to the tan ones, just in case.

I’m going to reduce my t-shirt collection to my favorites, plus one that was a gift a friend picked up for me in Thailand.  This in good shape will be donated.  The rest will be re-purposed.   This already feels liberating, and it’s just socks and t-shirts!

How many socks are too many socks?

One Load And No More

Imagine that you found out today that you have to move to a different state in 48 hours. Also imagine that you can only take with you what you can fit into the back of a minivan. (For the purpose of this discussion, we’re not including people or pets in the total.) Everything else must be left behind.

Take a few minutes and think about what you would take with you. These are the things that represent the must-haves in your life. All the rest of your stuff, all the things that would be left behind, are non-essential.

So, now that you have identified the non-essentials you might consider purging some of them. Take one or two items a day and donate them, sell them, gift them, or dispose of them if they don’t merit any other action. Keep doing this steadily and over time you will notice a significant decluttering effect in you home!

What if this was all the room you had for your stuff?

What if this was all the room you had for your stuff?

Four Easy Ways to Decrappify

Follow the Ratio Rule.  Using movies or CDs as an example, here’s a way to start decrappifying a collection that has taken over your storage space.  Take stock of your collection and for every four CDs, video tapes (remember those?) or DVDs you keep, remove one from your collection.  Sell them on e-Bay; donate them to a senior center, nursing home, etc.; or if you know someone who would enjoy a particular movie, pass it along. When it’s all said and done if your movies are still taking up too much space, repeat the process until you have spare room for new ones.   You can rip your DVDs and CDs to a computer before you sell or donate them, but I’ll let you wrestle with the ethics.   This ratio process also works with books, clothes and lots of other stuff!

Designate a spot for incoming papers.  I chuckle whenever I hear about a paper-less society.  Despite doing most of my bills online, I still get printed statements from most of the utilities and other accounts.  Added to that are all the credit card solicitations, sales flyers, local penny-savers, and other junk mail.  Here’s how I handle paper.  I have a 3 tier letter tray and that’s where all the “keeper” paper goes when I bring it in the house. I use a separate tray for unpaid bills, paid bills, and statements.  Once a month I scan each tray and shred the hardcopies.  As for junk mail, that goes straight to the recycling bin when I bring it inside.  I apply this to magazines and so forth too, although my Nook has put a big dent in my hardcopy magazine consumption.

Use the Four-Box Method.  When it comes to decrappifying a single room, the four box method may be the best.  You need to buy or borrow (I trust you to not steal) four boxes: trash, donate, keep, or relocate. Go through the room and assess every individual thing in it, and assign each thing one of the four categories. No item gets a free pass. At the end of the process, follow through on the categories assigned to the four boxes.  Donate the stuff worthy of donation, put the stuff you are going to keep in their appropriate places, toss the junk out on the curb, and relocate things that belong elsewhere to their appropriate rooms.

Maintain a steady state.  I owned 34 long sleeve dress shirts when I started decrappifying.  Clearly, that was far more than I needed.  So I selected the 7 I liked best and donated the rest to Goodwill.  Then I bought 3 new ones, bringing the total to 10.  Now if I want to buy another long sleeve dress shirt I will make myself get rid of one that I already own.  Thus, I will never again have more than 10 long sleeve dress shirts.  This steady state principle can be applied to almost any kind of possession.

Winnowing out the DVD and CD collections.

Winnowing out the DVD and CD collections.

5 Easy Steps to Start Decrappifying

Change can be difficult, no denying that.  Sometimes the very idea of change is enough to keep us from moving.  Other times it is not the idea of change itself that intimidates but the perceived extent.  We often approach a situation by looking at it as an insurmountable whole when we should view it as a series of smaller related tasks.  Voluntary simplicity is no different. I didn’t wake up one morning, decide to simplify my life, and by evening it was so.  It takes time and patience, and a plan.  Here are five things you can do right now to begin to simplify your life.

Divide and conquer.  Go through your closets and bureaus and pile up all of your clothing.  Use the middle of your living room floor if needed.  Take every piece of clothing that you have not worn in the past year and place it in a second pile.  From that second pile, separate the clothes into four smaller piles:  sell, donate or give away, rags, and trash.  Take the obvious actions with the smaller piles.

Empty the room.  To declutter a room, move all the things out of it that you can to an adjacent room, leaving only things like area rugs or sofas (unless you plan on getting rid of them).  It’s a lot easier to bring select items back into the room than to weed things out while they are in place.

Clear your calendar.  Seriously, sit down and take a good hard look at everything that commands and/or demands bits of your time.  Make a list with two columns, labeling the left column “Commitments” and the right column “Importance”.  Write down everything you came up with for time use in the left column, and rate each one in the right column as high, medium, or low.  (How do you know which is which?  I can’t tell you that-only you know.)  Take the items you rated as low importance and either delegate them or decline to do them any more.

Budget with prepaid cards.  My church fund raises by selling prepaid and re-loadable debit cards for a local supermarket.  I get them in $100 denominations which last me 2 weeks.  (Granted, I’m single so my shopping is a lot less complicated than for a full family.)  The thing I have found though is that these cards are fantastic for budgeting purposes, and knowing that I have a finite amount on the card makes me a much more savvy shopper. I do the same thing with my Barnes & Noble Nook account on my own, using gift cards that can be bought practically anywhere.  It prevents reckless spending.

Don’t worry, be happy.  OK, that may be a bit trite but your attitude has a significant impact upon the quality of your life, real or perceived.  When I was a teenager I had a ferocious temper.  In the last 20 years or so however, I have mellowed out.  Here’s the secret:  don’t let the fiddly little things that happen assume an importance they don’t merit.  Let go of minor problems before they grow into big crises.  The less you stress out about the little things the better life looks-and in this instance perception is reality.