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This lesson talks about simplifying our possessions.

In the simplicity challenge for this course, everyday look at something you can simplify. We will focus on simplifying our possessions, a little at a time.

Why do we care about simplifying our possessions?

We often end up with too many things. It is hard to find what we need with so much stuff. Simplifying your possessions narrows down the amount of time you think about things and take care of things. It makes the closet or drawers much easier to use. If your drawers are crammed full and you need to dig through to get to anything, you just messed up the neatly organized area. You end up with a mess and it is hard to find stuff.

Now imagine you have just a few things in the drawer. It stays neat and you can find what you need. Keep it to a minimum and you can simplify your possessions in one area. If you only have a few things, it is a lot less stressful.

Over the years we have accumulated clutter.

It piles up over time. If we can pare it down, it becomes

How do we start to simplify? 

Let’s say our drawers, closets and garage are full of clutter. If you do have a pile, realize that you do not have to declutter it, you do not need to simplify it all at once. If you have many piles, pick one and do one chunk at a time. How do you climb a mountain? One step at a time. Pick one step today and declutter that. For example, if you have a lot of clothes, take one drawer and declutter that. Spend about 15 minutes doing that one step.

Do one section at a time until you are good to go with the closet or cabinet. Same with the garage. Don’t declutter the entire garage at once. Pick a shelf or an area of the floor to work on. One step at a time, you can declutter your entire garage or closet, and eventually your entire house.

Now, if you have a big house and are doing small areas at a time, that could take months to simplify. That is okay. You do not need to declutter your entire house all at once, which is a project. I’m not saying do a project. Do a mini project.

How do you simplify a drawer?

  1. Open up a drawer. It could be full of clothes, electronics, papers, a junk drawer etc.
  2. Empty the entire drawer into a pile on your floor. Scoot everything else away so you have some space.
  3. Clean out the actual drawer so it is neat and has a clean surface. (So far this has taken about two minutes)
  4. Take the pile and go through and grab all obvious trash. Then you are left with just the stuff you need to sort through.
  5. From the big pile, sort it into 2-3 smaller piles: Pick an item one at a time and place in the pile. Quick decision making. Yes or No?
    1. Keep Pile: What you want to keep and use that brings joy. Have you used this in the last month? In the last 6 months? In the last year? If I haven’t used it in the last year, there is a good chance I don’t need it anymore. It might be something I think I need or want to do in the future. Get rid of all the things that you want to do “someday”, for the most part. Choose one aspirational thing to do and get rid of the rest. Just let go.
    2. Donate Pile. You may have a donate box that you fill with all the things that still have use but you are letting go of. You can ask friend and family if they want it before you donate.
    3. Trash or Recycling Pile.
  6. Find a home for the keep stuff. Does it go in a drawer or is there a better place fro it where you can organize it better? If it goes in the drawer, put it exactly where you want to keep it in that drawer or shelf where you will always put it back. It has a home and will always go in that spot where you can easily find it.
  7. Take your donate pile to a charity. If the box is not full yet, you can wait to fill up a few more boxes before you are ready to drop it off.
  8. Take out the trash and recycling.

If you are quick at decision-making, this could take 10-15 minutes. If you do not have that kind of time, just do 1/4- 1/2 of the drawer. When you have more time, continue later.

You can do your entire house this way. One shelf space, one armload at a time. In your closet, you can take out an armload of clothes and sort through it that way. Sort, donate, and put back. By the time you are done, you simplified your closet.

Clutter is procrastination. It is procrastinating on doing things and procrastinating on deciding on things. We decided that all the things we have procrastinated on, we are going to deal with, make decisions, and move on.

How fast can you do all this? 

Some people get so excited about the process that they do their entire closet one day, their entire garage on a Saturday, and then the living room the next day. You can do this all in a week if you want to make it a project.

I recommend that you simplify a little bit at a time. Most of us are not ready to take on a project that big. If you get into it, you can definitely do it. If you recruit your spouse or a roommate, you can do your entire house in a weekend if you are fast and have some help. Get your kids to help or family to help haul stuff away, so it can be done that quickly. It really depends on the size of your house and how much clutter you have accumulated over the years.

The Maybe Box: If you are not yet ready to let go.

  1. Get another box and label it “Maybe”.
  2. Date it. Put today’s date and the date 6 months from now. Mark your calendar in 6 months to check the Maybe Box. (You can have a maybe box 1, 2, 3..)
  3. Put it away.
  4. In 6 months, if you haven’t used anything in that box, you can feel a little safer about getting rid of it.

You are never going to get to the end. There will always be areas where clutter builds up. Stopping the flow of piling up is important. Don’t just keep buying and buying. You know how much work it is to declutter. That said, you will always have some stuff that will enter your life, whether that is receiving gifts or staring a new hobby. You will still need to revisit the different areas of our life from time to time. It is an ongoing process. Keep making decisions about what is important in your life.

I encourage you to take 5-10 minutes a day for the entire month or at least until the next lesson to declutter your possessions. On drawer, shelf, or armload of floor space at a time.