Clutter Archives

Digital clutter

How do you navigate in the digital Universe?

We live in the time of really big data. Huge. Humongous.

Only the year 2011 was estimated to have produced 1.8 zettabytes of data, which is 1.8 x 1021 bytes of data. You can read about this here. More data is being created this year. The prediction is that by 2020 the amount of data is going to grow by 50 times.

Some media statistics found on the Web claim that:

It took radio 38 years to reach 50 millions recipients.
It took TV 13 years to reach 50 millions recipients.
It took PC 8 years to reach 50 millions recipients.
It took Facebook 3 years to reach 50 millions recipients.
It took ipod 2 years to reach 50 millions recipients.
It took Google+ ? months to reach 50 millions recipients.

As you see our technological progress has been super fast in the recent years. See also this post for additional mind blowing statistics.

The data

There is the data produced on the Web. What you need to realize, however, is that the majority of the data is not the content that you read, watch or listen to: text, images, movies or music, but the data supporting the content.

For every piece of the data you create online there is often the double (or triple) amount being stored. This includes details about content management, style and formatting, your system setup, data characteristics, favorites,additional images, discussions or comments, etc. On the top of that we need to add the necessary data backups, or the same or nearly the same information stored by multiple users in multiple locations.

In addition, there is rehashed information, slightly rewritten or reformatted, retweeted, pinned, liked and so on, not even mentioning 2000 spinned articles created for each individual article but submitted to different article directories. Such is a path of SEO practiced by some bloggers, marketers or entrepreneurs.

Lots of content is repeated multiple times in a slightly transformed or rewritten form. The same message is broadcasted in hundreds or thousands locations on the Web. We have already stopped taking care for the quality and novelty of the message, instead we are playing in the avenue of quantity. There is a pressure for constant publishing, chat, talk and messaging.

Digital clutter

Clutter is an emotional attachment to things in your life that not only stopped serving you, but also hinder your progress. Digital clutter is of no difference: it lives in your computer, ipod or ipad, on your cameras, CDs or DVDs, or on the Web.

Digital collections seem safe because they are not physically tangible. Yet, they take up your mental space a similar way your physical stuff does. They occupy your virtual space, limiting your freedom to move, act and think. They require your time for maintenance and make all other searches difficult.

Be it hundreds movies from your student times that you have nowadays no time or interest to watch, a music collection of thousands songs that you only listen to a tiny fraction of it, hundreds of unread emails, millions of images, pdf’s and other files downloaded while browsing the Web and stored all over the place, bookmarks to every site you ever visit and so on. On the top add thousands of people whom you follow at Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest or LinkedIn.

Digital clutter puts a strong emotional burden on your shoulders, similarly as the physical clutter does. It exists and its existence is overwhelming. Clutter multiplies fast and soon you feel emotionally in debt to answer every email, every Facebook/Google+ comment and like what others say to you.

Strong emotions are tied up with clutter.These usually are

  • hope or disappointment (about the things you wanted to learn from the stored programmes and files on your computer but were never able)
  • nostalgia (about all good times, email exchanges, friendships and lovers, letters and photos)
  • frustration (about the things that constantly pile up for being done sometime in the future), or
  • depression (about the lack of clarity and sense of life cause by the overwhelm of stuff and false feeling of responsibility to do things).

“Hanging on to things is a way to avoid change… You’ve been anesthetizing yourself with things to create a false sense of stability; meanwhile, change is going on inside and around you all the time.”

Clutter busting, Brooks Palmer

Clutter may be a symptom of a hurt you and I are keeping inside, perhaps unaware of it.
Clutter may be a symptom of a decision or action that we avoid to take.
Clutter may be an excuse for a change that sleeps at our door.

Let us free ourselves.

When we clear our clutter, we clear our Spirit. We make space for creativity and inspiration to flow freely. In the newly created space, our intention seeds and motivation powers start to blossom.

Clutter-free

Clutter-free life begins with you and me. It starts with the recognition that there is digital or physical stuff that holds you or me back.

De-cluttering is a process. It is in fact a simple process. You review your possessions, one by one, and ask yourself “Is this serving me now?” If not, throw it out or give it away. Find a person who will be pleased to receive what you can give or find an organization which can make good use of your donations.

If you don’t know how to start, the Clutter busting book is of great help. It provides a psychological help on the level of motivation and action. Two citations below reflect that:

“The truth is, you are equipped with amazing discriminatory abilities, ready at a moment’s notice to distinguish between what is a waste of your time and what is valuable… We’re used to being told that we don’t know what’s best for us… use your innate clutter-busting apparatus.”

“You are already valuable! There is no need to prove anything…anything you own to impress others is a waste of your time. No one cares. The past is as insignificant as old dishwater. Only keep what reflects your life as significant in this moment.”

Value in the digital chaos

There is an abundance of ideas, articles, posts and news on zillions of subjects. And more zillions are on the way. It is impossible to follow even a fraction of all the things you are interested in. The Universe is structured, yet it presents itself as chaos.

Why is that so?

Because there is lots of clutter flying around, in the form of spicy, glittery, shiny or tasty information we are easily attracted to. And such an attraction makes us loose the laser focus we have for the tasks at hand. 

This digital clutter is being created by tons of tweets, news, messages, movies, songs or rehashed information, either carelessly or unthoughtfully spread around by devoted digital space travelers, or repeated on purpose by entrepreneurs or corporations. The latter may serve them as a marketing tool, branding or working towards personal gains. Just because we can share something, it doesn’t mean we should. Similarly, as we shouldn’t follow all the wants we have.

How can you find value in the digital chaos?

My view is that the value starts with us, you and me. If we want to find value in our lives we need to make choices and become selective. The same holds for our existence in the digital Universe.

However, before we are able to make informed choices, we need to freely explore multiple galaxies, planets, travels and structures in this Universe. This is necessary to gain experience, or “touch and feel” about the Universe. This may include exploration of various social media tools, Web programs, forums, discussions, news, newsletters, blogs, short movies, online shops and so on. Samples are sufficient, though.

When we couple such visits with our interests and intelligent search, soon we are able to disregard the majority of tempting tools, ideas and information. This means signing off from the things that don’t serve us. And it also means freeing ourselves from the social and emotional pressure of keeping up with the digital messaging and talks.

I believe that the clearer and more structured we are in our minds, the easier it is to find clarity in the digital Universe around. Clutter-free mind is perfectly capable of finding or recognizing the right information even on a far away digital planet.

Clarity begins with us, you and me

If you want to find structure in the digital chaos, be the one who spreads valuable messages and articles. Choose to be more with less.

Any time you want to write a post, share an information or a message, retweet, comment or discuss anything, just ask yourself

“Is, what I am going to share, useful to others?”

“Is is entertaining?”

This is the ultimate criterion: usability/practicality of the message or the entertaining value.

If the answer is NO to both – think twice, or even three times, whether you want to contribute to the digital clutter around. 

The cleanness begins with you and me. We are responsible for the friendly, beautiful and clean environment, be it digital or not. 

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Other clutter-related posts:

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The image above shows a beautiful quilt by Inge Duin. See more of her works on  www.ingeduin.nl.

 

more with less 

The mantra “be more with less” or “less is more” resonates perfectly with the idea of conscious living.

Not surprisingly, it has become one of the two challenges I work on this year. It is a huge challenge for me as my natural inclination is to elaborate, which usually mean to do more than less.

Over the years it has become clear to me that practising “less”: owning less, doing less and becoming less, is a necessary pursuit on the path of personal growth. “Less” coincides with the ability to choose. Consciously.

In this post I present three cases where less is more important than more.

Stuff

I grew up with the idea that “more is better”. I used to imagine how easy was the life of rich people, who were living happily with the abundance of goods. Yet, I knew that there was a limit to such happiness. As a child I was touched by a Greek myth about the king Midas. He was supposed to be a happy man – able to turn everything into gold just by touching. It seemed perfect in a while until his beloved one turned into a gold statue as well. Clearly, it was too much.

Even with this story in my mind, I still imagined the life was easy for wealthy people. Many years forward and I now understand how (too much) goods and stuff become limitation instead of liberation. The overwhelming stuff stops being enjoyable. Moreover, it becomes a hindrance for development.

A huge house surrounded by a large garden and a few cars may sound great but there is a hidden price to it. You need to take care of your large possessions. If you don’t do the daily/weekly/monthly maintenance, cleaning and repairs yourself, somebody else has to do it. And such services need to be supervised as well.

As a stuff collector, you need both space and place for your valuable clothes, shoes, toys, books, computers. technological gadgets, videos and other things. Stuff multiplies fast and needs extra maintenance.

Basically, more stuff means less of your precious time. This is the time you could spend in nature, relaxing, exercising, reading, learning or enjoying activities with your family or friends. Or whatever else you would choose.

More stuff = work + headaches
Less stuff  = breathing space + expanding mental space + creativity

Take the challenge.

I am not a minimalist and I don’t aspire to be one. But the overwhelming stuff makes me learn to say “no” before the new stuff arrives. Learn it too.

A good challenge is to get rid of 20% of your stuff: clothes, shoes, books, old gadgets and equipment, furniture and so on. You can denote these to a charity, sell on Ebay, give away or recycle. Possibilities are plenty.

An even greater challenge is to get rid of 50% of your stuff. You can perfectly live on less.

If you are nostalgic about your stuff because it holds precious memories, I have a great solution. Photograph your stuff, one by one and store the photos on a hard disc. Hold a picture of every thing in your mind, thank for the precious memories and set them free. Let the stuff start a new cycle of life.

Ideas

One of the breakthrough in my life concerned ideas. I used to think that great ideas were special and belonged to a few chosen ones. With time and experience I’ve understood it was not true.

Generating ideas is relatively easy. You can observe it in any brainstorming session. Ideas are simply shared and belong to the Common Space. We may paraphrase Plato to say that the ideas live in the Cave of Shadows and we simply discover them. Alternatively, we may say that ideas are inspired from God so they come from a single Source.

Yet, we often think that a particular idea is ours. It is both true and false. The idea is ours in the sense that it is proposed through us, but it is also not ours because it is not totally exclusive to us. Oftentimes the same or very similar idea it being proposed, discussed or executed by other individuals at the same time. This is particularly noticeable in science, but I’m sure that you can recognise this phenomenon in your daily life as well.

The consequence is this observation is far fetching. We merely discover ideas (and perhaps share them with others) but we don’t own them.

Such a concept is is a hard pill to swallow for some. They will guard their best ideas, tricks and practices with life. They want to keep the ideas confidential, hidden or patented as it is a common practice of some companies or corporations.

The point is this. There is abundance of ideas, thoughts, concepts and books, easily available. Just look over the internet and you will find a plethora of ideas. Free. How many of them have you executed?

The simplest ideas are often neglected or discarded, because they are either old or known. Nothing exciting in them. Alternatively, ideas are neglected because they require focus and discipline.

Isn’t that interesting that successful professionals thrive on simple ideas, perfected over time? Think medical doctors, engineers or researchers who constantly improve their solutions.

Isn’t  that interesting that the most successful brands describe narrow niches (=ideas)? Think Coke, SunwarriorBlendTec, Lexus, and so on.

Isn’t that interesting that successful companies offer either a limited choice of products or a limited and specific service? Think AppleEvernote37signals or FedEx. 

More ideas = confusion + procrastination + difficult choice
Less ideas  =  clarity + execution

Guard yourself from the flood of ideas. The more ideas around, the bigger the overwhelm and the harder the decision which one to execute. You may easily spend ages trying to find the best idea.

The truth is this: the best idea is the one which is implemented.Why? Because a direct experience will teach you much more than any thinking or reading.

Take the challenge. Limit the number of ideas to consider for any decision taking. Choose the most appealing one and execute it with devotion.

Time

We often think of time as if it was our resource. Yet, we can neither buy time nor generate it on request. Time is limited, yet we often live in an illusion that we have still plenty of time to do many things. This makes us careless with respect to how we trade our time (and effort) for money (call it job or business), or how we let the time pass.

When we look at people who suddenly discover that they may live one more year at most because of a terminal illness, we will often observe the following. After the initial shock, disagreement and rebellion, there comes a moment in which the person accepts his/her fate. There is nothing more to loose but everything to gain.

The time limitation sets the person free. He/she can now take actions and decisions which were perhaps postponed until some day in the future. Such people often spend their last months of life in the most active ways, renewing relations, repairing mistakes and following passion. Some become healed and continue such a practice for years.

Time is limited. If you knew you would die in a year, how would such a perspective have changed your life? Which decisions would you take today? Which job would you commit to? Which experiences would you choose? Which discoveries would you make?

While such a perspective may seem as too far fetched for some, think about time in a different way.

Your time is precious. There is no other today as this day. When this day is gone it will never return again. The challenge is to be the one you want to be and to do the important things.

When you give yourself less time for specific tasks and challenges, you will force yourself to become more creative in order to meet the time constraints. It may not work perfectly the first time, but you will become more resourceful when you use this strategy on daily basis.

More time = indecision + procrastination
Less time  = action + creativity + resourcefulness

Take the challenge.

  1. Every day determine your most important (one to three) tasks for the day, tasks which contribute to the growth and well being of yours or your family/friends. Commit to them with 100% effort. They really need to be done!  
  2. Use the Pareto rule and Parkinson’s law to do the most important things in less time.
 
 How can you become more with less? It is only through a conscious choice and dedication.
 
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Photo courtesy Fe Langdon, available under the Creative Commons license on Flickr.
 
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needs_and_wants

 

Your distinction between needs and wants determines the quality of your life. It may lead as far as the difference between mediocre and remarkable.

Needs are the essential or necessary things that support your well-being. On all levels.

Wants are of two kinds. The first kind are your long-term intents and deep desires.These are of significant importance but are not the subject of this post.

The second kind of wants are the momentary impulses to satisfy your greed for pleasure or status.They run on an instant gratification principle.

You can not only survive, but thrive on much less

We buy stuff because we want it. We buy more stuff because we want it. And then, we buy even more stuff. Soon, our lovely stuff becomes clutter.

Of course, many things are useful. They enrich our lives, add convenience, entertainment or fun (or at least a possibility for these), but overall they are not the most important things.

The truth, easily forgotten, is this. You can survive on much less than you currently do (unless you are very, very poor). Even more, you can finally thrive when you focus on your basic needs and make space for growth in your life.

You don’t need the many things you buy or use. These are your wants. Your instant reward for pleasure, worth or status.

For instance, if you have internet at home, you can perfectly cancel your TV subscription and follow the most important news only.

You can choose to drive a second-hand car or use public transport. Even better, you can commute by bike. In the end, the car is your means of transport and usually your liability.

You may stop buying sandwiches at work and prepare your own lunch at home. You may stop buying coffee and start drinking water and herbal teas instead. You may stop indulging in smoking or alcohol.

You may buy moderately-priced clothes instead of fancy designs.

You may rent a smaller apartment than you currently have.

Do you need to buy the latest ipad just because it is there? Surely, it is cool to play with the newest technology. It is fun. But, do you really need this? Unless your job depends on being up-to-date with the latest technology – let’s face it – a new gadget is your want.

Note: I am not advocating to cut your spending for the sake of saving money. It makes sense, of course, but concerning your finances, a more efficient strategy is is to earn additional money aside.

My point is different. Surviving on less is about essential needs and conscious practices that make space in your life, be it physical, mental or emotional, so that you can gain clarity and focus on what is the most important. It is also about the awareness behind the choices you make or impulses you follow.

Happiness and stuff

It is an illusion that the abundance of possessions will give you true happiness. Possessions have to be handled and maintained. They require attention, care, time, energy and money. They will make you either very busy to the point of exhaustion or make a mess of your life when you become a stuff collector. Happiness does not depend on how much you own to impress others, but actually on the quality of living in the now.

If we consider the feeling of happiness as the function of the amount of stuff you own we will observe a specific behavior, following the curse of dimensionality principle in statistical learning or rational decision taking. Initially, with the increase of possessions you become happier until you reach a point where the reverse trend begins. Then, the more you own and maintain, the less happy you become. Why? Because you have all the stuff or possessions you may want but hardly any time to enjoy them.

Surprisingly, this saturation point is not as high as you would imagine. Stuff multiplies super-fast and occupies any room it finds.

Why do we buy stuff?

We buy stuff because we blindly follow the instant gratification principle and/or we accept consumerism as the working model of reality.

Instant gratification vs delayed reward

Instant gratification is the satisfaction you gain from impulse behaviors. When something appeals to your senses, be it beautiful clothes, a fancy handbag, great climbing shoes or the newest smartphone, your natural response is to want it.

You see a delicious cake, you want it and you eat it. You feel like having the fifth cup of coffee. You want it and you drink it. You see the newest ipad. It is even thinner and slicker in the design than you imagined. You want it so you buy it.

Wait.

Wanting a thing and wanting it badly now is the key characteristic of toddlers and preschoolers. It is the time window, between one and four, where the emotional-cognitive brain is being hugely developed. The verbal-intellectual brain (neocortex) will begin a fast development only around the age of four.

Children at the preschooler age are emotionally very expressive, going from a perfect laughter to a total frustration in a split of a second. There are battles of wills, stubbornness and tantrums about the things they want to have now or their way. They are learning to experience and handle their emotions. They have not yet developed a time perspective, not even mentioning any reasoning ability (to be developed much later). Emotions are in the moment and they need to be expressed excessively.

Any conclusions from this?

Delayed reward

It is possible to teach preschoolers simple ways of waiting before you turn your attention to them. Similarly, it is possible for us to practice patience. Persistence and ability to delay gratification are the antidote for getting out of debt and taking care of own financial future. They are a must-have qualities of conscious people: happy, fulfilled and successful.

Concerning the aspect of delayed gratification, the most famous experiment is perhaps the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment studying the impulsiveness of four- and six-year old children at a nursery.  The kids were offered either a single marshmallow or two marshmallows if they would wait for some time. The experimenter told the children that he had to leave for a while. The children could choose to eat the marshmallow immediately, but if they waited for him to come back before eating it, they could eat two marshmallows instead.

Some children ate the marshmallow immediately, but many attempted to wait for the extra reward. Of those, one third was rewarded with the second marshmallow. Not surprisingly, age was a major determinant.

The same children were tested 10 years later and while entering the adulthood. The ones who ate the marshmallow immediately were compared to the ones who were able to delay gratification. The later group described more competent adolescents who also scored better academically. An additional study in 2011 shows that such characteristics remain for life. See the article here.

In short, the conclusion from these and related articles is this. Instant gratification is related to people who tend to be stubborn, impulsive, easily overwhelmed, prone to stress and jealousy with a low self-image. On the contrary, delayed gratification is associated with people who are assertive, self-disciplined, dependable, eager to learn, able to cope with disappointment and frustration and more competent academically.

If you want to apply delayed gratification to your life, learn how to practice patience and self-discipline.

Consumerism

We have subscribed to the consumerism-based reality where consumption of goods is the central theme. It is a concept in which our worth or value is reflected by what we consume. The idea has repeatedly been broadcasted in media and by various companies and corporations for a long time. As a result, we have come to believe that it is what we buy and have that reflects who we are.

The philosophy is narcissistic in the sense that the primate emotional self is put on pedestal to be worshiped or satisfied. We buy things to feel good, to express ourselves or our personalities, to show off or reflect our importance, or to seek approval from others. We buy for pleasure, acceptance or status. We buy to belong. We buy to keep up with the peers, colleagues, friends, family and so on. We buy to look better than the neighbors. How pathetic is this!

It is quite common that women will go shopping when they are emotionally low, depressed or frustrated. New clothes, shoes or bags will often cheer them up. We have come to celebrate our life by spending money on goods. This is however unsustainable, as on average, at least in the USA and the UK, we spend much more than what we are making.

What do you really need?

Spend some time on this question.

What do you really need?

Your answers should relate to things that contribute to your long-term health, emotional and mental well-being and success. Begin to question anything you want to buy that cost more than, say, 25 GBP / EUR / dollars.

Think about your recent impulse purchases. Think about what happened in the moment of buying the thing and just before it. What was the trigger behind the purchase? How did you feel at that moment? What did you think at that time? How did you justify the purchase to yourself?

Identify the triggers in your mind and simply pre-program the desired action that should happen instead.

Find a way to distract yourself from buying or avoid the trigger from arising in the first place. Know your touch buttons and simply have a procedure in operation that saves them from pressing.

Play the scene in your head and choose a strategy that leads to non-buying.

You are ready for the next time.

A very short guide to buying stuff

  1. Repeat this mantra multiple times a day for a month: “Owning more stuff wastes my time and energy, creates hassle and takes me off track. I only buy what I need”.
  2. Pause before you buy small things. Are they really your need?
  3. If there is something above 50 GBP/EUR/dollars that you want to buy (different than your regular food or expenses), wait before your purchase. Wait a week for small things. Wait a month or more for big things.  Do you really, really need them?
  4. Pay cash.
  5. Invest the money you have not spent. Begin building your wealth: health, education or skills, relationships or assets.

In a month you will start to see the results.

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A great book on consumerism is Spent by Geoffrey Miller. Read it and you will learn new things.

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Photo credit Fe Langdon, available under Creative Commons on Flickr.

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stuff

There is Stuff.

Stuff is all great things you bought, got, borrowed, subscribed to, created or inherited. You keep them in your life, in your head, in your body, in your wardrobe, in your house, in your car, at your work, on your computer, and so on.

Stuff.

Stuff is magnetic. It has this remarkable property that the more you own the more is attracted to.

Stuff.  More Stuff, please come.

Stuff collection begins slowly but it does not take long before it arrives in huge volumes. The growth curve is speedy exponential. Having some Stuff, you can surely rely on more in no time.

Stuff.

Stuff hates empty spaces. Very much. It occupies every little corner it finds. No space should be left alone. For sure, there is Stuff to fill it!

Free Stuff. Welcome to the Stuff Club.

Free Stuff is especially good at it. It loves to spread all over the space in the name of being Useful or Lovable.

We all love Free Stuff, don’t we?

Oh, Stuff! Your precious Stuff.

Food.
Clothes.
Shoes.
Toys.
Tools.
Books.
Files.
Gadgets.
Computers.
Phones.

Stuff. Your lovely Stuff.

Thoughts.
Emotions.
Ideas.
Creations.
Products.
Deliverables.

Stuff.

And then you need wardrobes, desks, shelves, furniture, and space to keep your Stuff. You need to collect it, sort it, shape it, clean it, organize it and move it around. You need the time to store the Stuff once and then you need even more time to maintain Stuff as long as it is there. You need to do it in your house, in your wardrobes, in your garden, in your car, in your head, in your body or at your job. Simply everywhere.

Stuff. Your lovely Stuff.

Of course, you can completely neglect this process and let Stuff occupy random places it likes, but you will soon stop living comfortably. Or you get nuts by being overloaded with your precious collections in all places.

Stuff.

How did it happen that you have become such a talented Stuff Collector?

Well… You’ve simply started to take pride and joy in owning Stuff.

Stuff. You own Stuff.

So you have Stuff. Lots of Stuff.

Interesting Stuff. Cool Stuff. Beautiful Stuff. Useful Stuff. Funny Stuff. Working Stuff. Broken Stuff.

Stuff in all shapes, forms and colors. And more.

Stuff.

You can show off with your Stuff. Only few have so much quality Stuff as you do, don’t they?

Stuff. Quality Stuff, indeed!

But…

Do you still have the time to enjoy life?

“I need you so much”, says Stuff.

Or do you spend your free time organizing, cleaning, or sorting your Stuff? Stuff asks for the attention, doesn’t it? It loves to be pampered. Oh, yes!

Stuff.

Stuff is attachment.

The more you posses, the less free you are to abandon old things and start new ones.

Stuff.  Of course, needed.

Some stuff is necessary.
Some stuff is useful.
Some stuff is nice.
Some stuff is valuable.
Some stuff makes life comfortable.

Yet, there is lots of Stuff you rarely use or need. Yet you keep it.

In hope. Just in case. Maybe. Perhaps one day… Or you have forgotten you had it or abandoned it.

Stuff.

Too much stuff becomes clutter and makes you feel stuck. In projects. In work. In life.

Stuff.

It starts innocently. One, two or three things are left where they don’t belong. Then a few more follow.

Stuff. A small pile of things.

And there is suddenly a pile of clothes. To be sorted, washed or ironed. Not to forget the new clothes you have just bought. To be placed in your wardrobe.

Stuff.

And there is a pile of books. To be considered, looked at or read. And of course you need an ipad/kindle to read your books on the go. To save the time you don’t have anyway..

Stuff. Another small pile of things.

And there is a pile of files in the computer. And a huge inbox of unread emails. To be read, thought over, edited or answered.

Stuff.

And there is music, movies, photos, presentations, texts, conversations, and so on. Huge amounts. You need extra mechanisms to store your Stuff, extra backup and storage discs.

Stuff. Yet another pile of Stuff.

And there is a pile of ideas. To be thought over, investigated and worked upon. Or abandoned.

Stuff.

And there is this negative chatterbox in your head. To be kept quiet.

Stuff. Wow, even more Stuff here.

And there is a pile of everything that fits nowhere, but is everywhere. Old pens, watches, paper clips, tapes, hard discs, CDs, cameras, screen monitors, etc.

Stuff.

And before you notice your precious Stuff slowly becomes clutter, preventing you from gaining clarity, maintaining focus and taking action.

Stuff. Flooded with Stuff.

Stuff is there in all places in various sizes and quantities waiting for your attention and handling. Stuff depends on you. And you depend on Stuff.

Stuff.

So, you are overwhelmed and paralyzed with inaction.Yet you know that the only way is to face your Stuff head-on.

De-Stuff.

De-stuffing is unavoidable. Yet, you hate it. But, no, no, no. No other choice is there, I’m afraid.

As you find the time to welcome your Stuff, you have to find the time to kick your Stuff out of your life, your head, your work, your home, your car and so on. It will not leave you otherwise. Stuff is faithful to death.

De-Stuff.

The best approach to de-Stuffing is to maintain it as a regular Process and make it as fun or interesting as possible (to play as a child).

De-Stuff.

Throwing away things that served us well may be painful. Yet, it has to be done to make the space for new ideas or things. As inflow is continuously at work, similarly outflow should be.

De-Stuff.

You need to establish clear rules and limits where and how Stuff enters your life. And protect yourself from Stuff.

De-Stuff.

Say goodbye to the old and unnecessary things in your life. Whatever it is which does not serve you any more.

De-Stuff.

Clothes. Shoes. Toys. Tools. Books. Files. Gadgets. Computers. Phones. Thoughts. Emotions. Ideas. Creations. Products.

De-Stuff.

Time is more precious than Stuff.

The more Stuff you have the more time it takes for its handling and maintaining.

De-Stuff.

So before you collect any new gorgeous Stuff, ask yourself whether you really, really, really need it. If not, let it occupy the space of some other passionate Stuff Collector. Not you, this time.

De-Stuff.

What do your prefer: live for Stuff or live to become?

My answer is simple. And yours?

De-Stuff.

Choose what matters: Clarity, Simplicity, Space, Focus and Clean Solutions.

Live Stuff free.

And you will stop being stuck.
 
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Recommended reading:
If you need a good motivation for de-cluttering, the Clutter busting book by Brooks Palmer is of great help. It will help you to understand how clutter blocks your progress in life. Organizing From the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern is a fantastic book that will help you to devise a system that works for you. Both highly recommended.
 

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Photo copyright by Moyan Brenn. Photo available under the Creative Commons license on Flickr.

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experience_flow

Be like a pond

There is a variety of bacteria, algae, plants, tiny creatures and fish that live in a pond. The overall health of this ecosystem is determined by the quality of water. Moreover, a healthy flow of water is necessary for a pond to stay alive. Healthy water supports life, has a proper ammonia level to keep both tiny creatures and fish well and is enriched with oxygen.

Moving water is therefore necessary. It causes the water to break into droplets, which can pick up more oxygen thanks to their large surface area. In addition, fresh water helps removing any decaying vegetation, which is important for the well-being of a pond.

What you want is to experience flow in the pond of your life

You need a regular inflow so there is no drought. You need fresh, moving waters which bring you more oxygen and support you in developing your ideas and taking action. You need a regular outflow so there is no flood and, moreover, the old material is being removed. You basically want moving waters of a good quality in order to support life.

What you want is

Flow.
Fresh waters.
Movement.
Change.
Excitement.
Progress.
Being alive.

Strive for the balance between inflow and outflow

So there are things you need to let go and there are things you need to take in.

  • You need to share your ideas and thoughts (outflow) and you need to collect information (inflow).
  • You need to teach (outflow) and you need to educate yourself (inflow).
  • You need to respect others (outflow) and you need to appreciate yourself (inflow).
  • You need to talk (outflow) and you need to listen (inflow).
  • You need to work to earn money (outflow) and you need to relax and rejuvenate yourself (inflow).
  • You need to give away your possessions (outflow) and you need to receive gifts (inflow).

Moving waters bring new ideas and new concepts to your life, but also new things. Moving waters also remove the old patterns and old habits that no longer serve you. They flush out all the things you no longer need. Such things are called clutter.

Clutter is all decaying material of a pond. It is there, has served a role, but is disturbing now. Moreover, if it stays there for some time, it will significantly reduce the quality of the water. This will stress your fish (big ideas or projects) and thus making them much more vulnerable and susceptible to disease. With fish illness, prevention is much easier than treatment. It is worth your effort to maintain a healthy environment of your pond so that all complex relations between living organisms (thoughts, ideas, feelings, projects, actions and rest) are supported.

If you want to experience flow in life, pay attention to both inflow and outflow. There are two main challenges here: accepting quality inflow on your personal level and organizing quality outflow, especially on the material level.

Take care of your quality inflow

The first challenge is to learn to appreciate yourself and enjoy spending time with yourself. It is about a life in balance, between work and relaxation, between action and inaction, between contemplation, ideas and application. It is about working on your healthy self-esteem and self-image.

Take care of your quality outflow

The second challenge is to accept quality outflow by removing clutter from your life. Take a challenge and get rid of 20% of the things you own but no longer use. You keep them because of sentiment or in hope that you will need them one day. It is very unlikely, though.  And even if this happens, you can probably do O.K. without them as well. If you really want to experience a great freedom in your life, give away 50% of your belongings.

Learn to give with joy.

Let the clutter out of your life

Inspect your cloths and give away 20% that you do not like, do not fit any longer or have not used for the last two years. Make a space. Let your wardrobe breathe.

Examine your collections of books, CDs, DVDs, magazines or papers… Get rid of 20% of them. Even better, get rid of 50% of them! Sell them. Find charitable organizations. Give them away.

Look at your bookshelves, tables, lamps, wardrobes and furniture. Get rid of chunky or non-functional pieces that you are not happy with.

Look at your old gadgets, cd-players, ipods, ipads, mobile phones, cameras, and so on. You do not use them any longer, while somebody else can. Give them all away.

Look at your laptops and computers. Do you need more than one? More than two???

Your children are likely flooded with toys. They will happily do with the 50% of toys that you leave. Bring some fresh air to their plays. Give 50% of toys away. Find some charitable organizations or individual children. And bring some joy to them.

Look closely at your relations. Are any of these toxic or dysfunctional? Perhaps some of them need to be removed as well.

Stop being in relationships that bore you, dis-empower you or bring you down. Discontinue them. Let them die with no regrets. Look for relations with people who support you or lift you up. There is too little time in life to get yourself to a web of dependencies that block your progress and diminish your possibilities.

Free yourself!

Dedicate yourself to removing clutter from your life. You will experience remarkable changes. Freshness, new ideas and new possibilities.

Be like a healthy pond. Experience Flow. Enjoy achievements. Support life. Have fun!

And … don’t give up.

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Photo courtesy www.martin-liebermann.de (zeitspuren), available under the Creative Commons license on Flickr.

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