Hey, Look At You Go!

Congratulations on a month of Discardia!

Take a look around and see how things have improved. Go you!

Small steps add up over time. Feeling a little lighter and a little closer to how you want things to be? I hope so. If not, hang in there. Revisit the archives when you can and just do what is right for you.

I took time to survey my progress after a few years of Discardia in Getting To The Happy Home.

The Tao of Delete

Here's some good Discardian reading to inspire you:

I’ve got a “collector” mentality. I like my stuff. I like to shop
and I don’t mind a little clutter. Makes me feel at home. The problem
is that my place is pretty small and “a little clutter” turns into “a
lot of crap” pretty quickly. This is when I take the Tao of Delete to
my home. I go through almost everything and decide what I want, what I
need and what I can get rid of. Last year when I did this I had to call
some haulers to come and cart this stuff away. I had two truckloads!
Made me wonder where I was keeping it all.

I felt so good…so
relieved after those haulers left. My place was clean, and easier to
keep clean, for a long time and in general I just felt better about my
living arrangements. Sure I could have gone and got a bigger place to
keep all my stuff, but I realized what I really needed was less stuff.

[Read more of D. Keith Robinson's "Getting Things Done With Delete"]

Fresh Eyes: Living Room

Today think about what you want to use your living room for. Now go in there and look at it with new eyes; is it serving those purposes?

What doesn't belong? Where else could it go? (Not the bedroom; you started decluttering that last week). Move the things that hinder you from using this space out of your way.

What's missing? When I did this exercise a while ago, I realized that what I like is having friends over for meals and games. What I sorely needed was a table and enough chairs for them to sit on – the standing dinner party has never caught on for good reason. Fortunately, when I then told one of my friends that I was thinking of going shopping for a good table, he said "oh, we have a great one in the basement and 3 chairs; they're yours!". Sometimes all it takes is expressing a need for an opportunity to present itself. What  would give this room what it needs to function well?

Could you rearrange things to suit your favorite activities better? If you like to sit and talk with people, do you have comfortable sitting arranged so that you are facing each other? My living room suffered from "theater seating" which cramped conversation as everyone would twist sideways to see your face.

What about the things you use for these activities you want to do here? Are they somewhere else in the house? Bring them in here where they belong. Once I got my table, I pulled all my board games out of a dresser drawer in my bedroom and put them out in view on a shelf in the living room. Much more inviting and, I assure you, much more frequently used since the change.

Fine tune your living room a little today and do some of those things you enjoy!

Traffic Controller

Today, all you need to do is take a little inventory of your Outbound Traffic and any errands you have planned for tomorrow.

Determine the most efficient route for you to drop stuff off at charity or return large items to friends along with doing your other errands.

Got anything to go back to the library? Get that in your plan; it only takes a moment to swing by the book drop when you're already out and about.

Any bills or letters need to go in the mail this weekend? Write them out tonight, stamp and address them, and plan where you'll swing by a mailbox in your travels.

Either tonight or in the morning, stage everything that you'll be taking right by the door. Then when the time comes, carry out the trash and recycling, load up the car and head on out.

The Two-Year Rule

Discardian Ruut Ackses (which is a fabulous name, by the way) recommends you get rid of anything you haven't used in two years. He writes:

Less is more when you don't live in a mansion. That's the only way
to cope in a modern British house, and we stick to similar rules to
yours to prevent our place becoming a reality tv episode of "Look at
these poor hoarding lunatics".

We have a three bedroom house that struggles to fit two people if
you let your belongings take over. To keep the size and space
comfortable, we run "The 2 Year Rule" on every space in the house,
regularly. We have a minimalist living room now, with just media stack,
DVD/game storage, some LCD lighting, coffee table, one or two nice
pieces or art and two couches.

The two year rule has cleaned out every room, every drawer and every
cupboard. We own nothing but the essentials that we use and some nice
art. Open a drawer, and look at the contents. DId you use any of that
in the last two years? If not, sell, donate or bin it.

It helps to remember that stuff is just stuff. Stuff is not your
friends or your family, and nothing should hold a huge importance to
you. We have very little that we are attached to, and even less that we
would have to grab if an evacuation call came. I'd probably grab my
partner's antique violin, my Thinkpad, my gadget bag and my AIBO. The
rest is disposable.

The hardest part was disconnecting ourselves from our library. We
don't have room for shelves of books and now, as soon as they are read,
they get given away, traded, donated or binned with only a few

We recycle as much as possible and try not to waste anything useful.

This is a good technique. And if it doesn't work out, you can always look into starting that reality tv show…

The Zero-Sum Approach

Discardian John Hritz has gone zero-sum with books, CDs, clothes, DVDs, etc.

By zero-sum, I mean that to buy one, I donate one or more. This gets
me out of the binge and purge mentality of organizing. I try to have a
place in mind for something I want to buy and if there's already
something there it has to go.

This is a great method to give yourself time to adjust your habits and home. Try it out for a few weeks!


Bag 4: Toys & Sporting Gear

You know the drill: get a couple big paper grocery sacks. Today it's toy patrol.

Grownups of all sorts, you have toys; don't think this doesn't apply to you.

Those of you with kids, this works much better if the kids help with the game of sending old toys on to a new home. That will spare you later resentment over something precious having been thrown away.

Now, go through the house and find those toys you never play with anymore. Check the closets for old sports equipment for things you don't play now. Got any little desk widgets that you're completely bored with? (Can you hear the sound of a hundred little plastic gewgaws flying into the bag around the world? Lovely isn't it?)

Did you upgrade a console game system, but keep the old one thinking you'd still break it out now and then? If it's covered in dust send it off to a new home.

How about those electronic gadgets? Anyone with more than one universal remote control, I am looking at you. Two pound digital camera from 1999 in the back of a drawer, anyone? Ahem. Bag it.

Now some of this stuff is worth selling on ebay or offering on craigslist, but do weigh the hassle of selling against the possible return. Often I find when I calculate the cost of my time handling the sale, it's better to just give the stuff to friends or charity.

Put the stuff in the appropriate Outbound Traffic and wave it bye-bye.