Throw it away!

Every year at the beginning of January I make a resolution. I think about what I want to do in the coming months and where I will focus my attention. There is so much I want to read, learn or see. This year is no different. With one change. I'm going to clean up beforehand. In things, in data, in the services I use. And partly in my head.

“Why do you have all those football books? You don't play football,” a friend told me when she moved in with me a few years ago. Some I got, others I bought myself. But the truth is, I didn't want to read any of them again. I had no reason to keep them.

I started minimizing my library within the last year. First, I sorted the books. The ones I didn't plan to read and that were no longer of value to me, I offered on the Marketplace. I was able to sell thirty-two books for almost 4 grand. I gave one to a friend and placed one in a book box for free. I set aside all the books I wanted to read. Mostly I bought them, flipped through them, but never got around to reading them. Over the past year, I've taken one at a time from the pile and read them. After that, I was deciding if the book was beneficial enough to me that I would read it again in the future. If not, I passed it on.

There are still books in our home library that I haven't read. Plus, I like going to the bookstore. I look for new publications and like to flip through them. But I try not to buy books. I prefer to borrow them from the library. If a book catches my eye in the store, I put it on my list of books I want to read.

I feel that crossing off items that need my attention helps me. I want to keep only what is useful around me. The things I own must not only be used, but each must have a place. Less stuff also means less decision making. Whether it's when it comes to what I'm going to wear today or what kind of sauce I'm going to stir with. I feel the same way in the online space. I have several computers, several cloud storage systems, thousands of photos and documents.

But there's a catch. What works for me may not work for other members of the household. My girlfriend revels in the chaos and often asks me where she can find things in our home. “Do you know where the scissors are? Do you know where I put my earrings? Have you seen my phone?“ are questions that are asked almost daily in our house. I believe she would be immensely relieved if she threw out half her wardrobe or kept only ten pairs of shoes. Still, it's not my place to invade her space. I can set an example. Maintain your space and give every item a place.

He often tells me we need a bigger apartment. I don't think so. A man can fill up any size space with stuff. I see it in myself and my friends. Or at my parents, where you can find boxes of clothes that haven't been worn in years and probably won't be. Old furniture that's a shame to throw away. It was worth so much money! A carpet that may still come in handy someday, even though its pattern is long past its best.

What to do with it? Start with yourself.