Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Case for Less

Out of clutter, find simplicity.
~ Albert Einstein

Week 2 of Uncluttered. The assignment, to spend an hour or two taking a "tour" of each room in the house, noting both how much the room is used and the level of clutter in that room. Then, go back and remove any obvious clutter that we have seen. No hard decisions, nothing questionable, just collect at least one large garbage bag of unwanted items throughout the house. (Separate into donate and recycle afterward.)

I wanted to do this with my wife and, thankfully, she was all for it. Our schedules being what they were, we didn't actually get to the task until Friday. Of course, some rooms were worse than others. We did it, though, and I think we were both surprised at the pile we had accumulated in just that initial, cursory sweep of the house.

In the bag was a collection of shower stall accessories that never got put up and under that was a well used compact indoor grill and an old waffle iron. In the rectangular bin were all sorts of miscellaneous pieces of flooring from when we installed laminate on the second floor. That gold thing is a desk lamp that had not worked for years! 
It's somewhat astounding, to me, that all this stuff was lying around even though my wife and I both knew that it was useless to us. We had been keeping it purely out of momentum, or better yet the lack thereof.
What I found most difficult about this exercise was not getting rid of things as much as it was knowing where to stop. Once you start to clean out clutter, the very look of that progress motivates you to do more. In almost every room, I wanted to keep going, even though we would never have finished the assignment in a reasonable amount of time if I had. It was, in the end, a powerful motivator, and I suppose that was the point of the assignment. Yes, there is much work to do but, little by little, progress is made.

There is a Facebook group for the current members of this class. Based on posts I've seen, there is a very wide spectrum of progress, ranging from people posting that they are intimidated to even start to those who somehow managed to seemingly completely declutter major portions of their home already. What has been nice about the Facebook group is how encouraging everyone is of each other. We're all in this together, and it looks like we all want to see each other at the finish line.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Know Your Why

This way or no way, you know, I'll be free
~ David Bowie

Week 1 of the Uncluttered course also started with the death of David Bowie, one of my biggest musical heroes. He died just two days after his 69th birthday and the release of his 25th album, Blackstar, which turns out to be his parting gift to us. He had been battling cancer for the past 18 months, but had somehow managed to keep it a secret from the public at large until the announcement of his passing. To be honest, I was in a bit of a haze of disbelief on Monday.

What does any of that have to do with uncluttering and simplifying? Well, there it is again, the mortality monster. It was the death of my father and sifting through so much of his unfinished business that started this ball rolling. Since then, I've spent a lot of time weighing all the "stuff" that I have verses the time that I may have left to enjoy it and/or make use of it. It seems so out of balance, and then along comes another reminder that life is short and I'm really not making the most of it.

The topic for Week 1 of Uncluttered is called 'Know Your Why"... Why do I want to scale down and simplify my life? I want to spend less of my time handling and organizing stuff. I want to decrease the stress of tending to the things that I own. I want more family time. I want to travel more. In general, I want to experience more and live a more meaningful life. I'm not unhappy right now, by any means, but I feel like there's a whole lot of joy and happiness buried under all the time I spend with material things.

So, my goal in minimizing? Live more with less stuff. In some ways, I guess I must have known this all along because that's what I named this blog. I desire to own less so I can experience a more meaningful life, spending more time with my family and on pursuits that benefit those around me. I want to engage in life on a deeper than material level.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Now It's Official

"You have succeeded in life when all you really want 
is only what you really need." 
~ Vernon Howard

Today I took a very definite step toward decluttering and simplifying. I registered for a 12-week program called "Uncluttered," put together by Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist. Throughout 2015, I certainly made strides on my own, encouraged by posts on the Becoming Minimalist Facebook page. I feel good about the progress I made, but it felt unfocused and somewhat random. Two steps forward, one step back, and that's only when I was remembering to walk. 

I'm hoping this program will give structure to the plan here. The guidance will do me good. Apprehensive about the level of commitment I could afford while still working full time, I contacted Joshua about the time requirements. His response definitely gave me the impression that it would be reasonable.

Throughout the 12 weeks there will be 7 videos of 12-15 minutes each, 12 written pieces of about 1200 words each, and 8 video interviews that are somewhat optional, making the average weekly commitment to interact with the material 1-2 hours. Of course, the bulk of the time commitment will be in the weekly challenges. They recommend participants set aside 2-4 hours per week for decluttering in our homes. The actual time needed will vary based on each individual's starting points.

In addition, participants in this course have lifetime access to the content. Anything we might miss or might not complete the first time through can be revisited on our own or with the next group.

So, yeah, I've made official my desire to declutter and simplify my life. I would imagine that many of my entries over the next 12 weeks will center around my progress with this program. I'm a little apprehensive, but mostly excited to take this new lifestyle to the next level.