Live SimplePurge your stuff

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Removing the frustration of your clutter is a great first step in living more simply. Freeing up your personal space can free up your mind. Having a lot of stuff can trap you into a home, a city, or even a relationship that you do not want. Stuff can drag you down.

TACTIC: Reduce the amount of stuff you have by examining each item you own and asking yourself if you really need it.

Consider an item that you have and ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Have I used this item recently?
  2. Does this item help me in my life's goals?
  3. Do I need to own this item? Or is there a way that I can rent, borrow, or improvise the function of this item when I need it?

If the answers to these questions are not yes, yes, and yes, then the item you are considering is not helping your life, and you would benefit your life by getting rid of it.

You'll have to use your judgment in answering the first question, "Have I used this item recently?" How much time is "recently"? Every item has its own use pattern. Seasonal items don't get used for months, but think back to last winter--did you wear the gloves? Did you wear the coat? Other items, like dishes, might be hard to track when you use them. You can place such items in a box and put them away and see how much time it takes before you need to use them again.

The second question goes to the heart of why you have anything--to support your life's goals. You have to know what those goals are (see "Live Your Dream"), but a way to think about this is to imagine yourself having achieved a major life goal. Do you see this item in that picture? Is this item instrumental in that goal? Do you see yourself carrying this item on that journey to your goal? This might be a hard series of questions for mundane items. For example, you might not imagine carrying a broom to your goal of being a bank vice president. But a broom is going to help you keep a tidy home along the way--yes, it supports your goals. However, you might get rid of an expensive electronic video poker game because you don't see it part of the lifestyle of a bank vice president.

The third question is what I call the "anti-warehouse attitude." By this attitude, you acknowledge that you are not trying to packrat every item you could conceivably need in your life. You can always improvise, borrow, rent, or buy used when you need some specific item.

Never get rid of anything you genuinely want--it will cost time and energy to replace it. For items that you want, you should answer "yes" to question 2. You may be sentimentally attached to an item that you just can't part with even though it is a hassle to keep (like old photographs or children). I don't suggest getting rid of these items, as they do support your life's goals of sentiment or connection with others--they do serve a purpose in your life.

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