De-clutter Your Life

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When you’ve lived in the same house for thirty years, you collect a lot of stuff which you no longer or seldom use, but are reluctant to part with. For example, I wear shirts until the collars get worn, then replace them with new ones. My wife, however, never wear clothes long enough to wear them out. Party dresses would be worn once or twice, then she would not want to appear in them again. But because they still fit her even after many years, she wouldn’t throw them out. As a result, her clothes occupy four and a half closets in our house, not counting dressers, while I have half.

It’s the same with other stuff, books, magazines, CDs, DVDs, outdated gadgets (tape recorders, VCRs, TVs, cameras, computers etc.), anything you accumulate and are unwilling to discard because they still have some value, either real or sentimental. Over time they go the way of the law of increasing entropy and become clutter. Some might call them junk, but to hoarders they are valuable antiques.

The problem arises when eventually you have to downsize because it’s too much work to maintain the house, and you have to move from a three or four-bedroom house to a two-bedroom apartment with one-third the space. What do you do with all your treasures? De-clutter!

You start by getting a number of boxes for sorting out your holdings:
• Keep,
• Donate,
• Sell,
• Trash
Go through your house systematically one room at a time. For each article decide which category does it belong. Most out-of-fashion clothing and obsolete equipment are easy to determine.

What about paperwork? In Ontario the statute of limitations (SoL) for lesser law infringements is two years in most cases, but for federal civil law e.g. back taxes the SoL is ten years. So if you want to be safe, keep records for up to 10 years.

But the same principles apply when it comes to our lives. All too often we have activities, habits, and relationships built up over the years which are no longer contributing to our or other people’s growth and simply take up too much of our time and energy. They need to be pared back so you can redeploy your time to best or highest use. You can go through the same process to determine what you want to keep, add, or drop to re-purpose your life so that it is less cluttered and more focused.

This may not be your favorite activity, but it’s something all of us need to do periodically to have a simpler and more productive life. Try it. You’ll be glad you did.

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