Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Stuff (Mis)Management

A few weekends ago, I spent five hours in my basement, moving shelves and rearranging storage to clear out space for a renovation project.  I also carried seven bags of trash and four boxes of donations to the garage.
See all that stuff behind in the storage area?  Um, yeah.  Me too.  That wasn't supposed to happen.

Okay friends.  I clearly remember handing in my letter of resignation as Stuff Manager last year.  I have tax receipts for the countless trips I made to Goodwill with my boxes of things.  I know that happened.  That was not in my head. 

So, how did I end up here again? 

I have lists of rationalizations, or what BrenĂ© Brown might call confabulations.  Her research explains that we are hard wired to fill in the gaps in our stories, and in the absence of data we’ll invent the rest of the tale in the easiest way possible.   In this case, I started to feel that familiar sense of frustration at dealing with all this stuff.  I asked myself, "How could I have let this happen? "  Then I came up with some easy explanations.  They even contain a kernel of truth, which makes for the very best confabulations because they are easier to believe. 

“I have more things to get rid of because I have a new, lower level of comfort with clutter and excess stuff. 

“This isn’t new stuff, it’s just stuff I wasn’t ready to get rid of last year.”  

“Most of the stuff left over isn’t even mine, I can’t force anyone else in my house to part with stuff.”

“I’m not managing the stuff, I’m just shuffling it into a new space because of this particular project.  If we weren’t finishing this space, I would be totally comfortable with the stuff where it was.” 

Unfortunately for me, I’ve read way too many all of Brown’s books, so I did eventually wrestle with the truth. 

I still have too much stuff.

Yes, we have less than last year.  The beer bottle caps are long gone, and so are (most of) the creepy ceramic fish.   Yes, I spend less of my time cleaning, sorting and organizing stuff.  Yes, I have trained helpers in my house and I reduced the amount of micro-managing I do in their areas (one peek in my son’s closet or the garage should confirm this). 

But there’s still too much stuff in this house for my personal preference.  There are too many files on my computer.  There are too many photos on my phone.  There are too many ideas and plans and checklists floating, unchecked,  in my brain. 

So, I’m back on board again this year for the 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge.  I might not have as much physical clutter to eliminate, but I’m aiming to spend a small amount of time each day working on one area.  And since I don’t have as much actual stuff to purge, I can be more intentional about where I donate those items, which is very motivating for me.

If any of you are joining me this year, let me know!  I’ll be cheering you on!

In addition to the 40 Bags in 40 Days site, here are some other great resources to get you started:

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