Rethinking Junk

July 15, 2010

Stuff should be there to USE, not to keep for its potential!

Felt inspired by an article on zenhabits called “The Clean-Slate Guide to Simplicity”.  It was about putting everything away in boxes, and only taking something back out when you really need it.  The idea is to minimize using a strategy of addition instead of subtraction.  I wanted to try this on the junk in my desk.

I opened all the drawers in my desk, looked at every little thing in there.  Put some things in a cardboard box, then one by one put it all back.  There’s so much stuffed in there that I don’t have any place to put it when it’s not in the desk.  So… strategy didn’t work this time.

For example I have three full boxes of staples.  I hardly ever attach paper together with a stapler anymore, so this is more than a lifetime supply.  But what should I do with extra stuff like this – brand new in box products.  Toss it?  If I somehow run out of staples I can spend $2 to get more.  Or rethink my need to staple things.  I use less paper today than I used to, and mostly use paper clips.  Do I need to have a stapler at all?

Much of this uncertainty comes from the temporary nature of my living situation – renting a room.  I don’t have a kitchen, so all my most treasured kitchen tools and dishware are packed in boxes, unused and out of sight.  I’m pretty sure that at some point in the future I’ll have my own place with a kitchen.  But I don’t know when that will be.  So would it be better from a minimalist viewpoint to get rid of everything I’m not using, and replace it with new things if/when they are needed someday?  Or just continue to keep the boxes with me so my potential future kitchen will have a few special homey items?  Much of that stuff is already gone, I kept only things with strong memories attached.  Rethinking the need for these is harder than office supplies because I’m fond of them.

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