Its spring time here in Southern Arizona.  OK, we know the calender doesn’t say spring until the end of March, but its almost 80 degrees this week during the day, so it sure feels like spring.  So what comes with spring other than flowers and baby bunnies?  Why spring cleaning of course.  Especially when you are listing your house. We are also in the middle of packing up a house-worth of stuff, which is always a delightful process.

Packing happens to be a wonderful time for self evaluation and decisions to be made in regards to your STUFF.  Stuff that you were quite content to keep around as long as you were staying put, magically becomes quite a bit more easily parted once you decide to leave.  Something about having to box it up, lift it, store it, haul it, pay for fuel or cargo space for it, haul it, lift it, unbox it, and redisplay it so it can gather dust again, really makes you question the value of junk.

Having junk around the house adds mental weight.  I never would have believed this five years ago, but I have gone through too much downsizing and home organization to not think that way now.  Its amazing what you think you can’t live without, until you live without it.  I am not saying to get rid of everything, or get rid of useful things, merely take a look at you stuff, and honestly evaluate whether its helping or hindering your life.

We tend to hold onto things that we don’t need so easily, and we add to the pile so easily, but getting rid of things takes actual mental effort.  Boxing things up for a move forces you to confront how often you use a thing, what purpose does it serve and can anything else serve it, and what value does it have.  By asking yourself these questions, you might be surprised what things you can allow yourself to part with easier.  I have some examples from our recent packing, that you might be able to use to let go of some weight.

Microwave:

MIcrowave

Yes everyone, I do not own a microwave.  We got rid of it a few months ago.  We ran it through our three questions.  We rarely used it since we make tea in the kettle, and we never have leftovers.  The main purpose of a microwave could be served by either a toaster oven (which we have) and the stove.  Plus the two alternatives are better for the food than the microwave.  Lastly, it had no real value, so we donated it to Goodwill.

AR15:

AR15

I am using this one as an example because it was hard for me.  I enjoyed owning this item, but I applied the three questions, and found I was better served by not owning this anymore.  First, I the last time I used it was more than two years ago.  As much as I enjoy rifle shooting, its expensive.  It’s even more expensive when you factor in the drive to the range we liked.  Its purpose could easily be served by other weapons that I own.  It has tremendous value in the marketplace right now, so I decided I was better served by consigning it, and using the proceeds to help fund our move.  That is a much more worthy goal than something sitting in a case in the safe.

Books:

I grew up reading a LOT.  I also grew up owning a lot of books.  There may be a connection here.  That habit didn’t die as I got older.  At my high water mark a year or so ago, I would say that I owned about 500 books at least.  It may have been more, but I got rid of so many I can’t count them or anything right now.  I believe that books are one of the best ways to learn and to entertain yourself, but it does reach a point where its not practical anymore.  I also own a kindle now, so I am reading much more on there.  So I ran through the questions.  When was the last time I had read a title, if that answer was more than two years ago, it was up on the block.  Then I asked, would I read that again, if the answer is no, its gone.  I had trouble admitting that I had bought a book that I wouldn’t ever read, but once I did admit it, it felt great to get rid of them.  Lastly, do they have any value?  Well, with the advent of the kindle, more people are getting rid of books than keeping them.  So I took them to the used book store in town, and traded in as many as I could.  Any they wouldn’t take go straight to Goodwill.

PC games and CDs:

These last two aren’t really alike, but they get lumped together because the answers were the same for me.  I had probably 100 CDs, and about as many PC games in my office, that almost just got packed up again..  Then I had to ask myself, when I used them.  I realized I hadn’t listened to a CD since I moved to Arizona, and I haven’t played a PC game since Jenn stayed home.  Does anything else serve that purpose, of course, I use a Zune and an Xbox.  The last one was the toughest, do they have value?  Nope, with Ipods and broadband, no one needs physical mediums for those anymore.  So off they went to get traded in, other than a very few I kept for sentimental reasons.  No one is getting that signed Straight Line Stitch album.

I have to say, I expected to be sad after trading that all in.  I didn’t get much for it at the book store, and hundreds of items went to Goodwill, so I was basically watching thousands of dollars I spent in the past just flowing away.  Yet I didn’t.  I just enjoyed sitting in my office and not being surrounded by clutter.  I was able to evaluate my stuff, and make a rational decision on it.  By following the three questions honestly, you can remove any emotion from the equation, and once you do that, you will make the right choice.

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