The Surprising Effect Of Reducing Belongings

This article first appeared in Alpha Efficiency Magazine: Issue 3: Organizing, subscribe and buy here

People tend to think I am organized, but if you gave me the possessions of the average American I would struggle to figure out what is where. In all honesty, the reason I am perceived as organized is that I have fewer material possessions than most and there isn’t much for me to organize at all. I’m not sure that I qualify as a true minimalism evangelist because I will admit, I love worldly possessions as much as the next person. But I can’t stand clutter and this leads me to cut out the things that I don’t need. The ultimate minimalism occurred to me when I moved to USA; Limited by bag space and how much I could fit in the plane, I had to make some tough choices…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You Don’t Know What You’ve Got ‘Till It’s Gone

When I moved to the USA seven months ago, I left my whole life behind me and embraced the new continent. Space was limited, so I packed only the necessities. Some might be sad to leave all that stuff: books and related memories, but I was pretty happy that I had an opportunity to leave all that clutter behind.

Everything I truly needed ended up in my suitcase. That made me pretty content, as I knew that everything I brought with me was pretty much replaceable. I didn’t find myself lacking any of the things I thought I would be missing (except the food…damn I miss the food). Seven months later, I can tell you that I don’t even have an idea of what I’ve left behind. Of all the things I’ve left, I miss my friends the most! When you subtract what is important  and relevant in your life, you realize that it is people and experiences that count; **Everything else is junk.**

Hoard in Your Digital World, but Keep the Physical Reality Clear

As long as I have my digital ecosystem established (phone, tablet, laptop), where everything that holds value for me is stored, I really don’t care what is going on with the rest of my material possessions. I have a low-end car, live in a rented place and even slept on just a mattress for months didn’t bother me. The lack of non-material experiences is making this transition to a new continent pretty damn hard, but that is the easier part.

My aim to acquire new physical possessions only to the extent that they are going to improve the quality of my life. As I spend most of my time on my computer or a tablet, it is natural to assume that is where most of my financial investments go. This explains my lack of television and interest in worldly possessions, like cars and property.

The Less You Have, The Less Time You Spend Organizing

Once I moved to USA the lack of possessions helped me free my time from maintaining and worrying about my belongings. Because I live by the creed: *Omnia Mea Mecum Porto* (Everything I own I carry with me) I am not overly concerned with burglary, attempts of theft or losing my place. Somehow, when you have less, you ultimately have less to worry about. Ideally, I am leaning towards having even less so that it becomes easier for me to embrace a digital nomad lifestyle one day.

When you have less, you ultimately have less to worry about.

Getting Rid Of Your Old Possessions

Before purchasing an item, try to consider whether that particular item actually adds value to the quality of your life. Don’t buy things that are cool to have unless they are going to make a meaningful impact on you. Also, when you notice that something stops adding value, get rid of it. There is no reason for you to keep things that are just collecting dust.

Furthermore, when you get a new gadget, send the old gadget to Gazelle and ensure you get your money back,  rather than have items that aren’t being used laying around in your house. More specialist items can be sold off on Craigslist and eBay.

Things that are in motion, tend to stay in motion; If you have a lot of static objects scattered around, your living space will become stale, slow, and resistant to change. Material possessions have a will of their own and it’s easy to develop a sense of attachment to the status quo.

Getting Rid Of Old Items on eBay and Craigslist

I know that selling off the junk you have laying around your home may not seem worth the effort,  but not everything is about the money. If you aren’t in the habit of selling items off on eBay then you probably don’t have a Seller reputation. Starting off with cheaper items will mitigate the risk for buyers, secure you some positive ratings and teach you how to go through the whole process.

Currently, I’m going through this process and auctioning off the stuff I don’t need. The fact that I find something no longer of use, doesn’t mean it won’t be useful to somebody else; it’s simply good karma.

If you can’t sell it, you can always gift it to someone on eBay. Have somebody else take care of the old couch that you were to lazy to throw out by yourself; Let those stale items that steal your energy bring happiness to someone else. The purpose will autocomplete itself, and you should be happier for it.

How to start with minimalism

You can choose your own level of minimalism to match your comfort levels, but I have a pretty good starting point. Instead of trying to push yourself outside of your comfort zone, all you need to do is look at the things that you don’t use and that carry no emotional significance in your life. If you have ice skates and you haven’t been ice skating for the last four years, the probability is that you won’t go next year either; it is probably a wise idea to get rid of them. This is just one example, but I am convinced that you have at least three items like this at the front of your mind, readily available to be thrown into the garbage or given away to someone else who can put them to a better use.

Cleaning up these things alone will reduce your clutter and help you organize your material possessions. Removing things that you don’t need is an act of a habit more than something you do by nature. Some people might be naturally more inclined to clear things up, but if you aren’t, you needn’t despair because you can easily become one.

When it comes down to habit building, Darren and I are waiting for you on Lift App. You can easily add a habit of contemplating what is unnecessary in your life and what you could be replacing next. We actively use Lift and we will monitor your habit building progress if you join us.

One In, One Out

Imagine for a second that there’s limit on how many things you can truly own. Throughout your daily life you truly own just a couple of things, those that you frequently use. Your car, your favorite clothes, your smartphone and a couple of other trinkets.

If you want to bring minimalism to a new level, decide how many material possessions you will have in your inventory. Every time your possessions exceed this number, take action by removing one other item from your existing inventory in order to make space for the new item. Personally, I don’t have this number set for myself in my head, but the number of my possessions is somewhere around 100.

By adopting these policies you can plan your space, storage and ownership cost efficiently. If you don’t know what you have, you can’t truly know the cost of owning all that stuff.  The majority of people have no idea what they own or the purpose behind having all those things.

Minimalism in a nutshell

We don’t want you to ditch anything you are fond of, but we do want you to be mindful of what you own, and to make you mindful of the fact, that: “Things You Own, End Up Owning You!”