One of my sweet students sent me an article from the Boston Globe titled Free yourself by letting go of the clutter in your home, office, and finances, the article is about balancing your finances and it points to a book written by Gail Blanke- “Throw Out Fifty Things: Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life."
I am sure the book explains why "fifty" is the magic number, but I haven't read the book. I do love the idea to start with a random number. Engineering school taught me to analyze numbers and patterns, but it also taught me to trust numbers that don't quite make sense because at the end of the day you are looking for results (my Catholic upbringing just reinforced this methodology). I've counseled hundreds of folks in how to organize a space and the most difficult part of the process is editing one's belongings. I know it is very difficult, I struggle myself with parting from items I've attached myself out of nostalgia or out of fear. So this is an experiment on how to free oneself of material things that aren't serving one's life anymore and I know for a fact that the process can become a metaphor to embrace the present and face one's fears.
As an unscientific experiment,I will throw out fifty items. Yes, I will become the subject of this experiment as I downsize my already pocket-size belongings in hope that the process will help you cope with the editing process of simplifying your life into a richer and healthier one. If it doesn't do that, at least I hope it brings a smile to your day.
I am going to start with my Office Space.
So where do I start? I need to get rid of 50 things, so I guess as any good editor I am gonna look at every item in my office and ask how is this item contributing to my work?
I think the key here is the active verb, contributing as supposed to contributed. Many times I hold on to the stories in my head of how wonderful a book was, how nice a workshop was , and how one day I will use that stationary again. Embracing who I am today means honoring those items that helped me move forward. I need to trust that I don't need "the story" that the item evokes and let it go from that place of confidence where I am.
- 28 Books: this was a tough one since these books were not just books I read, these are books that moved me. I love stories and if I find a good story like in the many novels I've collected through my adulthood I feel that parting with the book will not let me hold on to the story. This isn't true, these stories will be with me as long as I can recall the connection I had with them. Public libraries and electronic books are my friend, if I decided to reconnect with any of my favorite books, I know where to find them. 20 books were donated to the Dobbs Ferry Library. I also have carried with me textbooks since graduating from college. I sold most of them right after graduations but I kept a handful after school thinking that I may need them, I never did, but they represented hundreds of dollars and the fear of being wasteful made me hold on to them. Truth is that no only I never use these books and no one can use them neither. I can't sell them or donate them, no one wants them. So holding onto hundred of dollars that can't serve me or anyone else IS wasteful. 8 Textbooks were tossed (yes, no alternative, I even consulted with theater prop shops).
- 1 Box of envelops, these 81/2 " x 11" white3 envelops have been with me since college too. I used them to send resumes to potential employees. I don't send mass mailing anymore and PDF electronic files is the standard. Recycled them.
- 1 Day Runner Day Planner; I have been using my iCalendar for two years now, very successfully. The repeat/end by date function is a huge help and the fact that I can syncronize with my mobile devise is awesome. Why do I keep this day planner? I spend a lot of time and money creating my personalized day planner, but it is not useful anymore. Recycled.
- 2 Decks of playing cards. Last time I used playing cards I was in Vegas, and casinos make playing cards super available. Tossed.
- 1 Desktop lamp which has been broken for two years. I thought I could find a small repair shop to help me with this, but I didn't find one or made any effort. Tossed.
- 2 boxes of postcards collected in coffee shops. I had the great idea of forwarding these post cards to friends as I thought of them in my often thinking afternoons in coffee shops. Texting has become then new postcards. Recycled.
- 8 pens/markers that do not work properly. I accumulate so many pens and markers that it becomes hard to keep track of which ones are working. 60 seconds of testing, but I know I can pick up a writing devise with total confidence of success.
- 4 File Folders. These folders contained finished projects with relevant information, which could come handy for me or my clients. I scanned all the documents, store the electronic copy my DropBox account and shred paper files. I have feared that the information will be stolen or lost in the cloud network, but it could have been stolen and lost in my house or through all the e-mails I have sent. I surrender to technology...it is indeed a good thing.
- 5 Yoga DVD. These were some of my first yoga teachers. Rodney & Shiva were there to help me build my yoga practice, they are still in my practice, but I haven't use these DVD's in years. I can honor their teaching by just donating these to the library.
- 1 Mouse pad. I haven't use it in three years...bye bye, my friend.
Who am I? I am space. I am efficient. I am open to new experiences. The whole experiment was very difficult to start, but once you start the process, it is relatively simple. A great side-effect: You will find your mind more open and more willing to let go of thoughts that are not serving you.
Drop me a line if you find this helpful.