Prescription for Simplicity


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"Pooh, " said Christopher Robin, “where did you find that pole?"
Pooh looked at the pole in his hands. “I just found it, " he said. “I thought it ought to be useful, so I just picked it up. "
      ~Pooh Book of Quotations

What things have you found (or acquired) that you thought might be useful? What precious stuff is lurking on, in or under your desk, bed, closets or drawers? Consider this: If it is buried behind closed doors, under the desk or stuffed in the junk drawer, then how valuable and how useful can it be to you or anyone else?

You can find extra hours in your day and extra money in your pockets simply by intensifying your simplification skills. Are you like Winnie-the-Pooh? Do you find stuff that ought to be useful and then spend time and money just to store it, clean it, repair it, insure it and worry over it? Let me share with you some insights that I have learned along my journey of simplicity.

- Nothing in my drawers or closets got there by accident. Everything, at least on the day I brought it home, was supposed to be useful.   No doubt, the acquisition was connected to an emotion, an expectation or a hope that something miraculous would happen.    
      Rx: I must pause to consider a compelling reason to own something before acquiring it.   Will it bring joy and beauty into my life, or is it something that will require cleaning, storing, insuring, maintaining and eventually become a burden?

- In the process of cleaning out kitchen drawers, I discovered four vegetable peelers.   I really like vegetables, but do I need four peelers especially when I most often use a small paring knife? Maybe I could exchange one for an apple corer.
     Rx: Specialization may be just fine in medicine, but too many single-purpose gadgets take up precious space.   Let’s get real here!  I ask myself, “Do I already have an adequate gadget?  Do I really need this specialty one?"  There will always be new and better products that Madison Avenue advertisers are promoting with the ultimate goal to part me from my money.   I need to think twice about a specialty item!  What I already own probably works just fine, so why add more stuff?

- My desire for a good deal can cloud my judgment, and I end up making too many purchases. When I see a markdown, I immediately decide I need it.    
     Rx: Shopping is free, but buying takes time and costs money. Items brought home require space for storage and energy to maintain.   A bargain is not a real bargain if the item ends up in the back of a closet or drawer.   I must consider the cost per wear or per use before I buy an item.   For example, a new flashy dress for the upcoming party costs $150.   If that same outfit can also be worn to next month’s wedding, the annual office party, on the January cruise to the Bahamas and a special occasion in the spring, then the cost of $150 now becomes $30 per wear.   This may be the bargain I am looking for!  But, if that dress is overly flashy and can only be worn for a summer party, then the cost maybe exorbitant.

- Through the family’s growing years, I gathered ‘stuff’ to feather the nest. Now I am taking time to scrutinize it all. Overabundance is a waster:  time-waster because I search too long for the item I want; a money-waster because I spend on items that have a long shelf life, but add little to the quality of my life; and an energy waster as I need to clean, store, insure, maintain. . .    
     Rx:  Excess buries the treasures that bring me delight. It is easier to organize a few treasures than organize a whole closet full of unused stuff.   I will purge and simplify first.

- Furniture is generally not a problem in simplifying my life. These are big items, and I have limited space for big objects. The difficulty is with all those innocent little things that have entered the household for emotional reasons. These are the hardest to dispose. They are the knick-knacks given to me by loving friends and relatives. They are the souvenirs from my travels. They are my children’s artwork or their childhood toys. The clue that these treasures are out of control is when they bring me more grief than joy or when I need to expend too much energy to maintain them.    
     Rx: I will clear out what I do not use and those items that do not bring pleasure into my life. If it is just taking up space, I will consider it a candidate for recycling.

- More than three of anything constitutes a collection, and collections come with strings attached. They grow, and they are hard to part with.    
     Rx: I vow to stop saving more than I can manage.

My goal throughout the simplification journey was to have one empty drawer and extra closet space. This lovely “emptiness" is a reminder that I have taken control over my stuff.    Bareness in my storage area is an expression of how good it feels to simplify.

It is Your Turn

What is your goal? Do you need to sort through the storage areas of your home and office and take a close look at the purpose of everything you own? It should be useful and used on a regular basis, not stored for a someday. It should add beauty and joy to your life, not add extra work to maintain its condition.

Begin to set limits on what you put into storage. Clear your closets (drawers, desk, garage, attic and all the rooms in your home) in order to create breathing space. As a professional organizer, I find that the biggest problem most of my clients have is not that they do not have enough space, it is the fact that they have way too much stuff.   Do not let your possessions begin to possess you.   It is time to take control.

Judith Kirk provides hand-on and coaching in simplification and organizational mastery. She uses a holistic approach to teach life management skills and assures an immediate physical, emotional and psychological payoff when chaos and clutter are eliminated. The impact of simplifying and organizing renews the spirit and builds confidence.   Order is the foundation upon which to build inner peace, contentment and joy in life.   Subscribe to FREE monthly newsletter on website


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