Simple Living Series: Say Good-bye to Your Stuff

Ok so this is part three in my new Simple Living Series.  If you are new to the program check out the previous posts otherwise you are going to be one confused little kitten.  Enjoy!

So you’ve gotten to know your stuff.  You’ve looked around the house, under the bed, in the back of closets, and inside of all those little nooks  where our stuff just loves to hide.  You’ve decided which category your stuff fits in. You know whether or not it’s stuff you use, stuff you love, stuff you wish you used, or stuff you wish you loved.  This is where it starts to get really tricky.  This is where you start to say good-bye to your stuff.

As we talked about in the last post it is possible for things to be in more than one category at a time.  For instance: I use my bed every day and I love it 🙂  Ok but a better example might be a special coffee mug.  Theoretically you don’t need that fancy little mug but you use it every Saturday as a special treat.  So you love it and you use it- you’re good to go!

So let’s go category by category and figure out how we should decide what to keep and what we need to relocate (we’ll discuss how to go about this relocation more in depth in the next post).

Stuff You Use

This one is the easiest category because chances are good that if you put it in this category it can and should stay.  The trick here is to be ruthless in determining if it really belongs in this category or in the Stuff You Wish You Used category.  Ideally if you aren’t using something at least 4 days a week you want to consider whether or not you really need it.  That may be really hard to actually do and there a few necessary things that you may only use once or twice a week…although I can’t think of a single one now.  There are a couple of things to be aware of in this category though, even if you use the item every day.

1)  Do you need as many or as much of this particular thing in order to meet your needs?

2)  Could something else you already have be used in the place of a particular thing?

Yes you use a glass everyday but do you really need 12?  Chances are pretty good you don’t.  (I’m going to have to write a whole separate post in order tackle the kitchen…kitchen stuff is tricky.  Stay strong!)  Yes you exercise every day but unless you are regularly participating in various kinds of sporting events that require specific kinds of footwear you probably only need one pair of tennis shoes.  Seriously.  You don’t need 6 because they look good with the thousand pairs of athletic shorts you have…and you don’t need that many pairs of workout shorts either!  You have a washing machine!  Wash your clothes!  See where I am going with this?  You may use shampoo and conditioner every day or every other day but you don’t need 3 different kinds of shampoo so get rid of 2 of them.

The other trick here is identifying whether or not you have something that can do multiple jobs and eliminate some of your other belongings.  My favorite personal example of this is a bookshelf I am getting from my mom.  It was in her study but she recently re-decorated so it’s all mine now.  Anyway it’s not a tall bookshelf, it’s wide, so I am going to put some of my books in it AND I am going to put my tv on it.  Bookshelf + Entertainment Center= one less piece of furniture to have to move and clean.  This works for smaller things too.  Measuring cups make great soup ladles…no need to keep ladles around!  Glasses are great at cutting out circle shapes in dough…yeah for biscuits and no extra cookie cutter clutter in your kitchen drawers!  You get the idea.  Be creative.  Can something you already own do the job of something else?  Well then get rid of the redundant item and enjoy less clutter!

Stuff You Love

I have a white elephant statue that sits on my desk that I just love.  I don’t have a good reason to love it.  It has no function or use, I constantly have to dust it, and it takes up valuable workspace on my desk.  But when I’m working or writing at my desk I see it and it makes me smile.  I’m keeping it.  I love it.  But by far my most sincere love is dedicated to my books…and I have a lot of books.  Asking me to give them up would be like asking me to get rid of some of my best friends.  Forget it.  Not gonna happen.  I love them.  In my opinion you should keep things you love and that bring you joy.  But be careful and make sure that you really love them.  It’s easy to mistake something for a “stuff you love” item when it is really a “stuff you wish you loved” item.  Let me tell you if you aren’t using, looking at, or enjoying regularly you don’t really love it.  True love requires regular visitation.  So be careful and be ruthless.  Don’t let that “stuff you wish you loved” crap creep in here!

Stuff You Wish You Used and Stuff You Wish You Loved

In both of these categories it is time to get down to some serious purging.  Listen, you are not your stuff and holding on to the “right” stuff won’t make you feel, look, act, or “be” better.  Stop believing the lie.  The only people benefitting from this lie are the advertising and marketing people.  You are awesome! And you don’t need to worry about accumulating the “right” stuff to prove it.  So (in my best Frozen sing-song voice) let it go!  Let it go!  Don’t let it hold you back anymore!!!  If it’s been sitting in the back of your closet for 6 months- let it go.  If it has been collecting dust on a shelf- let it go.  If, when you found it, you realized you had forgotten about it- let it go.  Seriously, these are the categories where you will find all that stuff that has been causing you stress, debt, and work.  So just let it go.  And read the next installment of this series to find out how you can do that responsibly!

So I get it.  This is the hard part.  Actually deciding what to keep and what to get rid of can be really difficult.  Sometimes going through your closet can feel really personal.  But stick at it!  Don’t give up!  Remember why you are doing this!  You want to enjoy living with less!  You don’t want to spend your free time organizing, cleaning, and maintaining your clutter.  You don’t want to be a victim of consumerism anymore.  Don’t feel overwhelmed but go at it at your own pace.  As I’ve been going through my things for my upcoming move, I set aside certain days and certain rooms and know that my goal for that day is to tackle say the craft room. This weekend I am tackling my closet and my bathroom.  If you are somebody who wants to hit it all at once put aside a weekend and GO TO TOWN.  But most people need to make this more of a process and that is fine.  The point here is to make your life less stressful- so make tailor this part of it to what works for you.  Good luck!

Simple Living Series: Get to know your stuff

When I started packing all those things up to move last time I was amazed at how much stuff I had bought and then forgot about.  You know the stuff I mean; the back of the closet, still in the bag, hidden in the shame of an impulse buy stuff.  I found candle holders, picture frames, an antique jewelry box, a ridiculous amount of t-shirts (thank you, youth ministry), and some shoes that are super cute…and uncomfortable.  And to my eternal shame most of those things got boxed up and moved to the next location anyway.

Our cluttering stuff tends to break down into a few groups.

  1. Stuff We Use
  2. Stuff We Love
  3. Stuff We Wish We Used
  4. Stuff We Wish We Loved

Stuff We Use

This category is pretty self-explanatory.  It’s made up of the stuff you actually use every day or at least 4 times a week.  So things like my computer, my hairbrush (or most toiletries in general…although not all so don’t get crazy.), and my purse.  (Ok Jesus Juke moment:  I feel like I should say my Bible.)

Stuff We Love

This category is for stuff that we love!  That shirt that just makes you feel so confident.  That coffee maker that gets that blissful first cup to you sooner.  That awesome piece of art that makes you smile every time you look at it.  Basically anything that just makes you happy- it goes here.

Stuff We Wish We Used

This category is awkward because this is the category that gives us guilt.  This is the category for the unused exercise equipment, the unused cleaning gadgets, and the unused cookware.  This is the category of “I know I should but…”.  And everybody has got it.  We have the best intentions and we buy this stuff in a fervor of get-it-done attitude (I am looking at you yoga stuff).  But the next day the fervor passes and the stuff gets relegated to the back of a closet fueling our self-loathing when we stumble across it every so often.

Stuff We Wish We Loved

This category is for the stuff that we bought because we thought owning it would make us better or happier.  Like that cute top that somehow was going to help you change your entire wardrobe but you never wear it because it’s not comfortable.  Or those shoes that are just gorgeous but pinch your toes.  Or that china set that was just so elegant in the store but that you are afraid to use.  This is the stuff that you hoped would be the glass slipper that would whisk you off to a happily ever after but it doesn’t seem to fit just right.

2 things before we go any further.  Yes it is possible for an item to fit into more than one category simultaneously and no not every little thing will definitely fit into a category (so please don’t waste precious time trying to come up with stuff to mess with my system).  But most things, probably 95%, will fit into at least one of these categories.  Frequently we just haven’t thought about which category a particular item falls in.  And we can’t decide what to do with a thing before we know which category it calls home.

So your minimalist challenge for the day is this:  get to know your stuff!

Look at all the items in your home.  Walk around, look in the back of closets, under beds, in the garage.  And ask yourself these questions about the things you see:

  1. Do you use it?  How often?
  2. Do you love it? What makes it so awesome?
  3. What would your daily life be like if you didn’t have it?

That’s it!  So go introduce yourself to your stuff and try and figure out which category it fits into.

Don’t worry I’ll wait.  Take your time! 😉