Monday, December 16, 2019

Fighting the clutter

Today, I saw the shelves of stuff that I had in my room but had not even touched them for years, and I realised that I had too many stuff. I did a wardrobe clean up a few months ago, and I'm still benefiting from the reduction in clothes. Physical clean up seems to clear my mind too, so I certainly want to repeat the same thing, but this time to my room.

My goal this time is to reduce the number of things I had by 50%. I'm not going to count item by item, but a rough guide would mean that every two drawers I tidied up, I should have one empty drawer at the end of the exercise. That means for every 2 items, I item had to be thrown away or gifted to others.

I started today and so far, I think the results are quite good. I did clear out 2 empty drawers. What did I throw away?

1. Sentimental things like gifts that are given to me by students. This used to be hard, which is the reason why I kept it for years on end. But today, it's not that emotional for me to hold on. I just want to reduce my material possessions. I mean, seriously reduce it.

2. Stationery - goodness..I've kept tonnes and tonnes of whiteboard markers, highlighters, magic pens... most of which are all dried up after keeping for more than 5 yrs without touching them. Why buy them if I am not going to use them, you ask? I didn't buy them, it was given to me by other people. I kept it for so long only because I want to remember the gift. But alas, all these will pass.

3. This last item is not something that I threw away. It was just disorganized, to the point that I can't find the item, hence they are not used. I put them back to their own grouping now, so things are sort of better now.

That took me about 2 hours and I think I'm only 10% done. The hard part is yet to come, which is to sort out the whole stacks of papers and files. Most of them are worksheets. In the past, I used to go to student's place so I have to prepare and print the worksheets on hand. I've not touched those worksheets for years since I have digitalized them and kept as soft copy to print as and when needed. But first I have to sort out which are the ones that are not digitalized yet. Settling this will settle about 50% of the clutter I have in my room, I believe.

The other major problem area is that boxes of tech gadgets that I kept. It could be from games (back when games are still shipped in nice boxes and manual, instead of ubiquitous digital copies these days), computer paraphernalia and mobile phones. This should form another 40% of the clutter in my room. I will likely keep a small part of them but throw out the rest. I know I've not touched them for years, but still, the sentimental part of me makes it hard to let go. Maybe another few years will do the trick.

Clutter feels like a stormy sea to me. Raging, chaotic, a force of destruction

Clearing stuff is only half the battle, the other half will maintenance. I've thought of a system to prevent stuff from cluttering again:

1. Don't buy unnecessary stuff. Absolutely no decorative items for me. Books will have to be in digital ebook format, rather than actual physical books. No choice.

2. Don't hoard things. Some things are cheaper to buy in bulk - I get it. But that doesn't mean I have to get until my whole drawer is full of it, and that I have to take years to finish using. This is usually not an issue for me since I prefer my cash to be liquid rather than stuck in inventory.

3. Throw away the boxes or cartons of stuff that I buy. I tend to keep those, thinking that if there is a need to return, I can do so easily. Perhaps that only happens 1 time out of 10 years? I'll throw them away after 2-3 weeks because if it's still okay by then, it should be okay. This extends to paper bags too. I really hate shopping centres during the festive season. I bought a Moleskine organiser from Tangs yesterday and they gave me a very nice carrier with all the Christmasy feel. I hate them. I want to throw but my wife will resist. Next time, I should strive not to even take it.

4. Sort out the things you brought/bought from outside into your home immediately. If not, it'll be there for weeks, then months, then years. This follows my mailbox letters organising system. Every letter I get will be acted upon immediately. If it's bills, I either put a reminder or pay them on the same day. If it's notification, I will read and act on it or archived for future use. If it's an advertisement, it will not even be brought into my home. If it's stocks related, like company annual reports (god, I hate those), I will browse through them and throw them out. If I can opt not to have it, I will.



I believe I can do this in less than 2 weeks, just before the new year 2020 is up. And what a great way to start the new year with a lot of space and room to breathe, and for new possibilities to happen.


Updates: From now on, this blog will not be spread by me in any way. I do not wish to hide it by keeping it private, yet I do not see the point of it being popular and well-read anymore. Gone are the days that I'll keep it circulated in my social media to get more people to know. It had been fun and I've earned a few cups of coffee and tea during that time, but I think it's time to move on to the next phase. Similar to my own journey towards financial freedom, this blog will also mirror that journey to be quiet, contemplative and reflective of my internal journey. I've been writing, on and off, since 2006 and I've no intention to stop. Perhaps there'll be more 'off' than 'on' these days, but I'll be around. Have great health, great relationship and great wealth.

3 comments :

Jojo said...

Did you clear out any hard copy photo taken before the invention of digital camera? I hv bulk of those and wonder how to clear it.

la papillion said...

Hi Jojo,

Nonono, those are precious. I would recommend scanning them and thus digitalizing them, but some things are lost by the digitalization process. The smell, the yellowing, the actual glossy/matte photos itself... I keep actual photos as it is, and that's because I don't have a lot of them. You might want to scan them, and see if you can live with that?

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