How to organize everything

Do you use it

Part 2: Do you use it (else, get rid of it)?

Everything around you that’s in easy reach should have a practical use. If you never use it, what’s it there for? If you rarely use it, why is it always in the way?

Tools messDo a mental inventory. There are three obvious categories here: used regularly, used seldom, used never. Used regularly gets the most attention, the best places. Used seldom can be more tucked away, though still easy to get to. All this is straightforward.

From what’s left, separate real emergency gear, that you hope to never use, but should be super-accessible in case you do need to. This includes things like first aid kits, fire extinguishers, critical phone numbers, spare keys, self-defense weapons (that you are actually willing and able to use), flashlights and batteries, whatever is on your be-prepared list.

What’s left is the curious category of the never-used. A shelf of books you’ve never read. A guitar that you’ve been about to learn to play for the last four years. Any type of project that’s been partially finished for ages. It’s also a stack of 30 dinner plates, when you’ve never used more than eight or 10. The download folder on your laptop that makes you flinch when you have to find a new file, because there’s so much in there.

You can call this clutter, but it’s more useful to think of it as extra, unnecessary weight that drags you down. There’s really nothing good about it. The books may look nice, but somewhere inside you feel fake and guilty, because you haven’t read them. The stack of plates wobbles, and you wonder when someone’s going to bring it crashing down. The unfinished projects continually suggest that you can’t finish what you start. There’s no upside here, just weight.

So, start losing the weight. Pack up the books and put them in storage, sell them, give them away, or start reading them. Move most of the dishes out of the easy-reach cupboards. Pack up the projects, or finish them. And so on.

You may have to force yourself to handle the first one or twopick little ones to start. Once you get going, you’ll find it’s a self-fueling effort. It feels great to be more agile, light, unconstrained, free.

On to the final lesson, Part 3.