What Do I REALLY Need In My Life?

Posted: August 10th, 2009 | 19 Comments »

How much stuff do we all really need? Other than a roof over my head, some food on the table, clothes on my back, some means of transportation, some of my books, and a computer so I can do my job – what else is truly necessary? Somehow in the 15 years since college, I have managed to accumulate a household full of “things”, some of which have not been used in a very long time. And while I do not collect anything and live pretty minimally, there still seems to be an abundance of items I could probably get rid of and not miss at all. In the grand scheme, do I really need these things? Cookware I never use, books I never read and never will, random stuff held up with magnets on bulletin boards, extra computer parts, chairs I never sit in, a junk drawer full of, well, junk, files I should have digitized already, frames with no pictures in them – the list goes on and on. I am not sure I do need them anymore, and I plan on doing something about it.

I want to start getting rid of this stuff this week.

As you guys probably know from reading this site, I already do my best to live clutter-free. And while this stuff is not necessarily clutter in the truest sense of the word, it is “extra” to my life – and not necessary. So I am going to do my best to walk around my house looking for 10 things I can get rid of each week. I will do my best to document these purge trips every week, whether the stuff goes to the landfill, the recycling bin, the consignment shop or Goodwill. Enough is enough – even without being surrounded by clutter I am feeling overwhelmed by having a household full of stuff. I know I would be perfectly happy in a tiny house living a simple life with just the cat, a laptop, my iPhone and a few books – but I don’t plan on going that extreme yet. One step at a time! But I do think it is time to reevaluate the things I do have and whether or not they add any value to my existence. And if they don’t, then out the door they go. Ever done anything like this? If so, I could use some tips!

Wish me luck! icon smile What Do I REALLY Need In My Life?

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19 Comments on “What Do I REALLY Need In My Life?”

  1. 1 nan said at 3:03 pm on August 10th, 2009:

    Do you have a couch you’re getting rid of? ;)

    I could write a book on how to ruthlessly purge without regret. I am a pro. Pick my brain. Please.

  2. 2 John Hamilton Farr said at 3:18 pm on August 10th, 2009:

    “Ever done anything like this? If so, I could use some tips!”

    Hanging on to things can be a sign of fear that one will never have those things again. It’s anti-abundance medicine. This is a hard nut to crack, however. The only tip I have is to not be too hard on yourself for wanting to *keep* certain things. The only thing that’s evil is absolutism. :-)

    I got rid of 1000’s of things before we moved to New Mexico: books, tools, art supplies, clothes… because I was “enlightened” and knew I couldn’t take it with me when I died, anyway. However, I’m still on this earth, and whenever I think of some of what I let go, it hurts like hell. (My TOOLS!!! My PAINTINGS!!!) And yet, in my current life, I have no need of those things, nor any place to store them!

    So I have no idea what to tell you, except to try to operate from a position of what makes you feel good at the time. No matter what, you’ll learn something about yourself and be in a better position to counsel others.

    I WILL say that once during a long spell of not having access to our clothes, possessions, and other amenities after a move, it was astonishing how easy it was to get by with almost nothing. That was an astounding revelation. Two shirts? Fine! One pair of jeans? Fine! One frying pan? Great! But then we fell back into love of junk. Back and forth, back and forth…

  3. 3 John Hamilton Farr said at 3:19 pm on August 10th, 2009:

    Oh hell, I forgot to ask about the couch.

  4. 4 Jesse said at 3:59 pm on August 10th, 2009:

    Tips…tips…tips…let’s see:

    What do you need RIGHT NOW?

    Ask yourself that question as you walk around the house. You’ll be amazed at the answers you’ll get. As you know I’ve been purging for – well on a year now – and am in the final stages of an international move(like I leave tomorrow). After all that, all I can really offer is this – if it’s not relevant to you life as you live it RIGHT NOW, you probably don’t need it.

    Not to shamelessly plug my own blog, but stay tuned for more posts about living with the ultimate in less, out of a duffel bag…when I land I’m not going to get my shipment of STUFF for at least a month, if not two…should make for good reads!


  5. 5 David said at 4:18 pm on August 10th, 2009:

    Sorry, no couch!

    The trouble is that I dont have much to begin with, and the stuff I have is pretty organized. So its all going to be crap stuffed into closets and drawers that hasnt seen the light of day in years. Tools? Those are definitely staying with me! :)

  6. 6 nan said at 5:14 pm on August 10th, 2009:

    Bummer about the couch. I’d feel flush with a couch for napping. lol

    My formula is this: If I haven’t touched it in a year, it’s gone. I never look back. If I regret it later, too bad. Use what you got. I go two years for clothes, just because my body changes so often.

    You know that pile of stuff as you come in the kitchen door? That is the perpetual free-box pile. It is never gone.

    My next door neighbor died a couple years ago. She was a packrat. I think I told you this story. We took away SIX contractor dumpsters of STUFF. It was a wake up call to the whole neighborhood. I went home and asked myself, ‘If I dropped dead today, what would people see as junk?’ That helps, too. Get rid of it. We don’t want to have to clean it up.


  7. 7 David said at 6:23 pm on August 10th, 2009:

    Ah, the perpetual “free” box – I have one too! I think if I dropped dead, people would wonder where all my stuff was. ;) But for me, even the stuff I do have is too much!

  8. 8 nan said at 6:39 pm on August 10th, 2009:

    I loved living in my truck then a motorhome. You have to pare down that way! You truly have only what you need. It’s so cool.

  9. 9 rachel said at 9:46 am on August 11th, 2009:

    I too am clutter free, I recently went through and decluttered my closets and drawers. It is amazing what is not crap, but not what you need. I had a curling iron and blow dryer for example. We live in a warm place and I have not curled my hair in about 5-7 years. So they went. Frames, blankets, sheets, make up bags, clothing, ect…
    All good items, maybe just not for you and your home now.
    Plus now when I go to the store and want a new whatever, I ask myself…will this be really liked in 1 month, 1 year, 5 years? Most (99.9%) of the time the answer is no! I think it will be easy for you to get rid of more than 10 items a week.
    good luck!

  10. 10 Chandra said at 11:08 am on August 11th, 2009:

    I have the same thing going on in my life. I’ve gotten rid of all the “clutter” and now I have a very bare and pretty organized home. Yet, I still find myself looking around and feeling boxed in by those last things that feel like necessities but I’m sure I could live without. I kinda take it day by day looking around to see what I am comfortable with getting rid of today. I like your idea of doing 10 things a week. That seems very do-able. I’m not sure I have much advice as far as getting over that whole “I may need this ______” But I guess I’d say (for my little tip) I would rather just repurchase that item (and see how long it takes me to think I even need it again) or go without it the once a year I may need it (like a ice shaver, lol) Anyway, hope that helps! :)

  11. 11 Leah said at 3:13 pm on August 11th, 2009:

    In my recent move, I feel like we did a good job weeding out the major clutter. Now it’s down to the hard stuff (well, I MAY need it one day) and I’ve learned to accept that it’s a slow process.

    Sometimes you’re just not ready to let something go. I had to wait two years before I was ready to let my grad school stuff go, but when I was ready, it felt SO GOOD to say goodbye.

  12. 12 marci said at 3:27 pm on August 11th, 2009:

    10 items a week…. this seems like a doable goal to me…i’ll join you.
    Altho at some point I may have to up the ante cuz I don’t have enough years left to get rid of all the junk at the 10 items a week pace…that’s only 520 per year….hmmmm

    Does each piece of old polyester fabric count as ‘one’ :) haha…. I’m a fabricaholic for sure. And its gotta go!

  13. 13 David said at 3:40 pm on August 11th, 2009:

    I am putting my first 10 items up tomorrow morning – will make it a weekly feature! Come along :)

  14. 14 David said at 4:11 pm on August 11th, 2009:

    Fabric only counts as 1 :)

  15. 15 emily said at 7:56 pm on August 19th, 2009:

    I’ve done (almost) exactly this as my new year’s resolution. In the fall we are moving home to the states from toronto, ontario, and will have an allotted two hours of elevator time to get everything out of our apartment and into the moving truck. I knew that this would be the one move that couldn’t drag out all day… no last minute sorting and tossing and “should I keep this or not?” while packing up all of those last odds & ends.

    I decided that each week I’d get rid of, organize, or condense at least one thing. It’s ended up being more like a bag a week of donated goods, condensing all old photo albums into small storage boxes at one time, etc… once you start getting rid of stuff, it can become rather addictive.

    Blogging my weekly task has also held me accountable :)

  16. 16 David said at 8:58 pm on August 19th, 2009:

    emily – I agree, blogging about it will keep me accountable as well!

  17. 17 b-stone said at 9:30 am on February 21st, 2012:

    i’d say just throw everything away. then when you walk back inside, and realize you have nothing. you’ll realize what you need.

  18. 18 neener said at 10:59 am on October 14th, 2013:

    I work in an industry where i see many levels of collecting/hoarding.
    the first thing that comes to mind is the access and egress incase of fire or earthquake.
    my challenge has been 10 things to the trash and 10 things to the goodwill (atleast 2x month).
    I organize with bins and my second challenge is to get from every 2 bins to 1 bin. i have since cleared 6 bins this year and have 10 more to go.
    recently, i read an article about the 100 things challenge ( as in 100 things to keep). this has been a turning point for me.
    making a list of what i want to keep. clearing each room and only putting the things in it that i “need” has really sped up the process. by doing this, i have a positive reinforcement on what is ok to keep. and the rest is gone. done.

  19. 19 Rob said at 6:51 am on November 3rd, 2013:

    I threw out so much when I moved back to Florida a few years ago, then more when I moved in to a smaller studio. It was actually so freeing. I started to go through and get rid of more and more. Later I moved into a 3 bedroom house and kept it very clutter free. It looked so clean! I was dating a girl at the time who I started to help go through her stuff. We filled half the garage and a 13×13 bedroom waist high with “stuff that needed to be gone through”. I see this so much – rooms, patios, yards, garages, storage closets, just full of stuff and most of the time it has been damaged….just junk.

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