20 March 2011

Spring cleaning: Less Stuff, More Fun!

It seems that I will be staying in C'dale for the summer. I have found suitable employment and am being given time to complete my degree.  However, in the rush that I thought my life would be if I had actually gotten that job--the interview for which I thought I had "aced"--I had already began thinking about moving.

Moving costs money--something I have precious little of.  I am not interested in lugging around the kitchen sink with me on my next move.  When I was divorced a bit over a decade ago, I learned the hard way that there is a certain lightness of being in getting yourself free of your emotional baggage and we humans put a great deal of emotional baggage in our stuff.  But divorce demands splitting up the stuff.  I walked away from my marriage with a bed, a futon, two wicker chairs, and a patio set, a mismatched, incomplete set of kitchenware, my clothing, my dogs, and a distant memory of my sanity.

And I started over.  Cleaner.  Leaner.  And with greater purpose.  I did learn that most furniture can be replaced at your new place.  People will give you furniture.  You can pick up stuff second hand.  It is amazing how often nice stuff is available around you.  More interesting to me is that as I prepare to move, it is the furniture that I brought with me that I intend to keep.  I have or will donate the furniture that was donated to me.  Paying it forward, so to speak.  It is time to remember that lesson and let some of this emotional stuff go.  In the spirit of spring cleaning, I am sorting through all my stuff.  All of it.  And I am turning a critical eye to it as I do so.  The goal is getting rid of the old, tired, outdated, unused, not-really-feeling-it, outlived-its-usefulness objects in my house and  streamlining.  Opening up the space I live in so I'm not tripping over the clutter.

I realized over the past several months that I can borrow or rent a great number of things that I thought I had to buy.  Did you know that Home Depot rents tools?  Kid you not!  This is going to save me a fortune.  So with that in mind, I can open up some new space possibilities.

Here's the rules.
  1. If I use it frequently, it can stay.  No questions asked.  What's frequently?  Daily to once a month.
  2. If I use it infrequently (less than once a month, but more than twice a year), I ask the following questions:
    • Does it improve my quality of life?
    • Is it convenient to store?
    • Would I be inconvenienced if I didn't have it?
  3. If I never use it, it's gone.  No questions asked.  
  4. Do I have more than one?  Can another object I use more often fulfill the same purpose (multipurpose tools)
  5. If it is an emotional object, do I display it?
  6. If it is an object intended to beautify my living space, does it?  Do I still like it?
  7. Would it be cheaper to replace it at my new home than the cost to move it?
  8. Do I have more of this object than I could ever use?  Prioritize them by desirability and let the rest go.
  9. Some items were purchased for a one-time project.  This includes a lot of tools.  How to decide what stays and what goes?
    • If I needed it again, could I borrow or rent it?
    • How likely is it that I will need it again?
Questions I purposefully avoid:
  1. Can I sell it for what I put in it?  This really doesn't matter.  I am paying to store it.  I am paying to lug it around.  I am paying to keep it safe.  Objects cost money to keep.   They are the hidden costs.  The only question that matters is "Is this useful in my life?"  If it's not, nothing else really matters.
  2. Will I use it one day?  An object would have to be pretty damn small and pretty damn expensive for me to keep just because I will use it "one day".  If I use something once a decade, it is really worth it to store it that long?
The garage will be the repository for the not-a-useful-part-of-my-life objects.  The first object heading out there?  A bread machine.  (Unless, of course, Liv wants it so she won't have to knead).  And this spring, when the task is completed, I'm gonna have one hell of a garage sale.  What's left over after that will be given to friends, family, or donated to charity.  

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