They say you learn something new every day.

Posts tagged ‘stuff’

Throwing it all away (01/03/2012)

I realised today I’ve started hoarding rubbish.

And this was after I explicitly set myself the task of trying to cut down on the amount of “stuff” I have. Whether it’s natural hunter-gatherer tendency or what, I don’t know, but I just seem to collect bits of paper and little things that I feel I “need” to keep. My chest of drawers had nothing on it a week ago, and now it looks like this:

And I can’t really throw any of it away. Except perhaps for the hideous candle in the shape of a Japanese woman.

However, the thing that made me sit up was when I realised I was keeping a bit of packaging because I thought the design was interesting. Now, I have nothing wrong with that, but I need to put that in a folder of “interesting things” if that’s what I want to do.

Keeping a pile of packaging in a pile is not something I want to start doing.

I was just surprised at how easily this crept up on me, as I tend to think of my life right now as pretty minimalist. The lesson here really is to know why you keep things and have a place for them. And if you don’t find a place straight away, put them somewhere and review that place regularly.

Moving Times (11/02/2012)

I’m moving house again.

These days, I seem to move house almost every year. I think it gets easier over time. I can’t say I’ve got it down to a fine art (like George Clooney travelling in Up in the Air) but I’ve down it enough times now to know to keep the boxes stored somewhere between moves and things like that.

This time, because I’m hoping to buy a flat soon, I’m renting somewhere for six months which means I’ll be moving again in 5 and a half months time. In some ways it’s a little unsettling. In other ways, it’s upsetting. Of all the places I’ve lived in London, this is my favourite, and I’ll be sad to see it go. Of course, if all goes according to plan, I’ll be moving back in a few months time to a nearby flat. But you never know until the keys are in your hand.

The process has flagged a few things to me though.

It’s made me realise how expensive moving is. But also helped put money into perspective. Sure, you end up paying several hundred pounds in one month, but in no time at all, that cost disappears. Costs are quite transitory like that. It’s reminded me that money is just there to buy you freedom and happiness and to pay for your life. Obviously, your expectations of money vary depending on how much of it you have. When you have enough for a deposit, you start thinking about buying a flat. If you just have enough for a few drinks, you maybe think of going to the pub. The amount you have affects how you think about life.

It’s also made me realise that so few of the things that make me happy cost money. Spending time with my friends and with L. Reading and writing. Messing around with computers and code. Films and TV. These things are largely free. Obviously I need a computer, and maybe I could get a big TV. But these are minor things. What I really want is to have my own place to live which is mine and is safe so no one can take it away (like our previous landlord did).

Finally, it’s reminded me again how much stuff I have. But, more crucially, how little of it I really use. I’ve felt this lesson keenly the last few Christmasess, where I’ve wanted a WiFi Radio (used for about a week, then stopped using), cordless headphones (used for about a month, then gave up) and some GameCube games for my old games console (played for about a week).

The only thing I’ve got that isn’t now just taking up more space as I lug it from place to place is my Kindle. Which I love. There are so few things like that. Other than my computer, laptop, phone and kindle, there aren’t any other consumable electrical devices that I want. I don’t even have room in my life for them.

But it’s more than that. As I empty my cupboards, I’m shocked by just how much stuff is there. I haven’t really forgotten about any of it, it’s just when you see it all, it amazes me how much there is. And it’s faintly confusing how I feel like I need it, and I can’t throw it away, but I never use it.

Half of my moving time seems to go into boxing up things that I don’t want.

I’ve learnt that I don’t need to buy any other things (I forgot to mention my jumping stilts and my mini laptop, that sit around unused these days).

I’ve learnt that I don’t need much stuff. And in fact, I should spend more time focusing on what I do want. Give the stuff you do want to use space to breath rather than cramping it in with stuff you don’t want. It’s like designing a user interface. You don’t cramp the button you’re going to use a lot right at the bottom of the screen surrounded by buttons you never use.

Finally, I reminded again about recalibrating. I’ve always known I like having fewer things. When I move I always clear up as well. I always say I’ll just get out what I need. But I still have so much stuff. I almost need to pack all my stuff up every month or six months, just how much there is that I don’t need.

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