My Quest For Less

A week ago I started the process to remove the extra, unneeded stuff from my life. Somehow, over the years, I’ve been able to accumulate an excess of things that have no meaning to me anymore. Yet, I haven’t been able to let them go. For some reason all of this “stuff” has crept into my life and I have found it acceptable to keep it even if I don’t use it. “Stuff” goes into boxes, takes up room in my closet, clutters my shelves and crowds my dresser. Yet, I am no pack rat. My apartment is far from “cluttered” or dirty. It’s clean, and for the most part looks fairly minimalistic. Yet, stuff still lurks in places you can’t see and I only have a one bedroom apartment (+storage unit)!

I’ve been inspired by articles of those who get by with less, much less. True minimalistic people. Most recently it was the guy in Sweden that “quit his job…and his apartment” and moved into a tent in the woods to write code and start his company. You can read his blog here. Or Graham Hill, the 3x tech entrepreneur who lives in a 420 sq ft apartment in NYC and truly has almost nothing. We’re talking total possessions in the double digits. Impressive. Read his NY Times article here.

I’ve started thinking about what all of this accumulated stuff is doing to me, psychologically that is. Does it make me happy? Well not really, usually other than when I first bought it. Why do I feel I will need a t-shirt that I have worn once in three years? I don’t know…maybe fear of not having it for when I want to wear it? It’s too easy to tell myself  “someday you will wear it, maybe at a concert or something” and then move on. Leaving it to sit in a dresser drawer. I’ve read several articles on decision fatigue, here here here and here. I’ve come to the conclusion that all of this stuff and the plethora of choices I have is effecting my daily life in ways that I have yet to realize. The theory goes, there are only so many decisions our brain can make during a day before we need a recharge (sleep). The more decisions we make during the day on trivial stuff, like breakfast or choosing what we will wear for the day, takes away from more important decisions. It makes sense to me, but will it make a difference in my life? Well I plan on finding out.

I’m starting with clothing. I’ve removed all clothing from my closet and dresser that I know I won’t wear, or haven’t worn, and stuff that is just outdated. I figure it is the easiest place to start. Here is my tally for stuff I got rid of:

Non-Workout Shorts (1), Dress Pants (2), Suit Jacket (1), Winter Jacket (2), Sweatshirts (4), Sweater (1), t-shirts (25),  polo shirts (0), hats (8), jeans (2), gloves (2), button down shirts (4). I also had a few non-clothing items that made the list too: blankets (3), gym bag (1) and some random housewares. Overall, a good start.

I took an inventory of all my clothing and this is how it breaks out as a percentage of my total:

Non-Workout Shorts (100%), Dress Pants (18%), Winter Jacket (50%), Sweatshirts (50%), Sweater (13%), t-shirts (40%), polo shirts (0%),  hats (67%), jeans (29%), gloves (50%), button down shirts (20%)

I will be on the lookout for a new pair of shorts (I’m not a big shorts guy) but there will be no more clothing additions, only reductions going forward. I have a serious addition to cool t-shirts which will need to be curbed (it’s hard to resist rad t-shirts…and rad socks too). I do like socks, which is why I started a blog called Socks of Instagram (also you can pull it up on Instagram: @socksofinstagram ), but I’ll need to curb that too…at least for the summer. Eventually I want to get to a point of wearing the same thing everyday, a la Steve Jobs or Jone Ive, and see how I feel each day…but I’m not there yet.

My plan is to do another round of reductions later in the summer after I have evaluated what I wear most often, and what I don’t wear very often (or at all). I’ll re-evaluate clothing around the beginning of August. I will also be looking at some more prized things to reduce, like books and my record collection. I have a lot books that I have read once and then they just sit on my bookshelf…time to sell them to someone. My records…kind of painful to think about selling them but in the 3-4 years since I got a hand-me-down record player and collection I have yet to hook it up. Heck, I don’t even have speakers to connect to it. My file cabinet? I want to keep paper backups for some things but it’s time to make digital copies for everything. Difficult choices here folks, but in the long run I’ll be happier without them.

Has anyone done a major reduction of stuff in their life? Let me know your thoughts below.