August 31, 2013

Do You Use The Things You Own?

Unread books and new planner.
I'm trying to go minimalist. Every once in a while I just want to get rid of everything. My goal is not to live with as little as I possibly can. My goal is to pare down what I have and actually make use of the things I own.

Most people have natural chances to minimize: they go to college and have to pick only the possessions they use most often, or they move and only have so much room to pack. I've pruned a ton in the last few years, but I have never moved so I've never really been forced to evaluate and prune everything. 

I have read about people whose choose to only have as many possessions that will fit in a tiny suitcase or others that keep their number of possessions under 100. Some even fight to get their number as small as possible. I find it admirable a beneficial to make do with less but I am not going to whittle my possessions down to an arbitrary number. As long as I am actually making use of an item, not just keeping it around, I see no reason to part with it.   

I am using criteria that I haven't really used before. I ask the simple question of "Do I use it?" Before, I was content with answering "Is it useful?" But have come to understand that just because it is useful doesn't mean that I make use of it.

This exercise has been very beneficial. There were things I hadn't touched or used in forever. It was easy to get rid of these things. But there was this group of things that I kept because I wanted to use them but never did. This was the group of items that hurt the most. I would look at this stuff all of the time and think of all of the reasons that I didn't use them: "Not enough time," "Don't know what to do with it," "It's not perfect for what I was thinking."

I have a large stockpile of books I want to read and art and craft supplies. I knew the "to read" books were a problem so put all of the "to read" books on their own shelf and put a sticky note on them with the date they were placed there with the intention of giving them away if I didn't get to them in a year. I've read plenty of books since, but I've revisited the shelf and I couldn't believe that most of the books had been on there for 2 years.

So I've reevaluated the books for if I still want to read them, re-tagged them, if so, and added an extra 30 minutes of reading a day specifically for these books. I've also decided to date any other items that I am not sure I use enough, and in a year, I will see how many times I actually use those items. 

But what I am most excited about is the art stuff. I've decided that I'm not going to buy any new supplies until I go through my stockpile and evaluate whether something i already own could work, even if it's not the perfect thing. I have found for me, the less I have, the more creative I have to be. Having too many art choices stop me from getting anything done as I wait around for the perfect thing or can't choose between so many options.

Recently, I had wanted to get a new planner and a smaller sketchbook for on location watercolor. I found a tiny notebook I hadn't used and an old watercolor pad that only had a few pages left on it and made some impromptu, crude solutions. They aren't perfect but they were fun to make and I'm actually using stuff I already own and creating more. I'm so excited. :) 

New sketchbook.
I'm strangely appreciate running out of things, lately. It means I'm using things. :)   So, do you really use the things you own?

2 comments:

  1. I don't remember what I was looking for that I was so lucky and found this wonderful blog. I would like to make my own blog but I don't know how. I was surprised to see this article. I saw a very interesting program on Japanese TV some years ago. It was about cleaning rooms at the end of a year which is a Japanese custom. It was said that older we are, less things we should have. It is really hard but I try to have less things. It is hard to throw away but there are other ways. What is trash for somebody can be a treasure for another. I started sewing this year so I really enjoy reforming especially kimonos that I have been collecting for many years. I couldn't throw away very old and torn pyjamas because they were silk but now I make one from two. I have so many books because I have had so many hobbies. I know this would be only trash for my family when I pass away so I give them to people who have the same hobbies. People in my home country in Europe as well as in Japan where I have been living for 40 years like to have many things but I try to have less and less and I try not to have decorations. I still have too many things and years will be necessary to have a simple but beautiful apartment. I am looking forward to your articles.

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    1. Thanks for your comment Marjana! If you go to blogger.com it is extremely easy to make your own blog. The instructions are very clear and easy.

      I agree that my books will probably end up being someone else's problem after me so I've been culling down to my favorites. Kimonos are beautiful! I would have a hard time getting rid of those. I'm glad you found a way to re-purpose them.

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