Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of books you own? How about the clothes in your closet or the gadgets in your kitchen? CDs or DVDs? Outdated electronics? I do, all the time.
These collections can seem out of control. There is so much of a particular thing that you don’t know where to begin. You can’t possibly apply logic or use emotion to evaluate every single one — it would take you days! Or longer!
If you’re sitting there nodding your head, today is your lucky day. You’re going to hear about how to pare down your collections of stuff — from someone who is doing it. (I have photographic proof!) Are you ready to let go?
Step 1: Pick Your Starting Place
If more than one big collection is staring you down, choose the most comfortable place for you to start. I began with books, for two reasons:
- I didn’t have to try them on or check to make sure they still worked. I could just grab them off the shelf.
- I knew exactly what I would do with the ones I didn’t want: I’d sell them to my local used bookstore. Done.
Step 2: Start Pulling
Scan your shelf, or your closet, or your cupboard. What obviously needs to go? What are you ready to let go of right now? Get it out of here, one thing at a time. Move quickly. Trust your instinct.
I went through each of my shelves and looked for books I was keeping (a) out of a sense of obligation, (b) even though I had completely lost interest in reading them, or (c) even though I’d read them and couldn’t see myself reading them again. I used my emotional reactions to help, but I went with my gut feeling instead of overanalyzing. It’s usually right.
I ended up filling three big bags:
When you’ve gotten all the obvious stuff, you’re done for the moment. Don’t force yourself to get rid of things you’re not ready to part with. It’ll only make the process uncomfortable.
Step 3: Get Rid of It
Now figure out how to get what you’ve just purged out of your life. Sell it, donate it, give it to a friend who wants it. Don’t think about it anymore. It’s out of your life — high five!
Me? I’ve already made over a hundred bucks selling books I no longer care about.
Step 4: Wait
After some time with your new smaller collection, a funny thing will happen. The stuff that was middle-of-the-road, that you wanted to keep even though you didn’t love it, suddenly becomes what needs to go. With the lowest level gone, a new lowest level emerges. You realize you don’t need that stuff any more than you needed what you got rid of initially.
When this happens (and it will), head back up to Step 2 and work through the process again. Here’s my second round of book purging:
Repeat until you’re satisfied. You will be left with a collection of books you want to (re)read, clothes you love to wear, kitchen gadgets you use regularly. It will feel great.
I’m on my third big book purge. It’s not even in bags yet; I’m still adding to the piles.
I can’t believe how easy it’s getting. I don’t feel any regret about letting go of these books I once treasured for no apparent reason. After they’re gone, they don’t even cross my mind.
Once you start the wheels turning, you realize how much of what you have is totally unnecessary.
Which collection is first on your paring-down list?