Tuesday, September 04, 2007

8 Steps 1000 Perfect Things

I have too many things, and as of today I've implementing a plan to reduce the number to 1000 by my 30th birthday. It's not that I don't like things -- I love things -- but I think they make me less happy, so I'm going to set up a structure that will keep stuff from piling up. Much of the inspiration for this comes from the "Power of 10" section of Sean Kelly's satirical inspirational seminar, Power Up.
Here are the preliminary steps and rules.
  1. Empty my storage unit. (DONE)
    I couldn't have done this without the gentle but firm hand of KP2, who opted to spend days driving around in a truck with me and getting whistled at by gross guys at the dump.

  2. Do the stomach test on everything I own. (1/2 done)
    This sounds kinda hippie but it totally works. I pick up each thing I own and if it makes me feel good I keep it, if it makes me feel bad I get rid of it. Some things make seem like they should make me feel good because they came from someone I like, cost a lot of money, or were purchased with a grand plan in mind. Often these are the ones that actually make me feel the worst in my stomach because, if they ended up in storage, they represent some sort of disappointment. Prime example: a PDA that I bought about 7 years ago that never quite worked right and cost a lot of money. I kept it around because it was still working and in perfect shape (since I didn't use it much because it sucked) with a loose plan of selling it on ebay. The most joy I've ever gotten from the PDA was giving it to someone on the street today as I piled up boxes of free stuff.

  3. Photograph and count everything I own.
    Since I'm interested in stats I need to know where I'm starting. I also know that it it psychologically easier to get rid of something once it's been photographed and cataloged. I won't really know how many things I want until I do this step, so 1000 may be way too high or too low. A wild guess is that I have 5000-1000 things right now, most of it in the "art supplies" category.

  4. Decide on rules for what counts as one thing.
    - Most things count as one thing, such as furniture, clothing, electronics, a toothbrush, etc.
    - Sets of things usually count as one thing, like a set of silverware or a ream of printer paper.
    - Living things don't count at all, such as plants or animals. This is mostly because I want to get more plants.
    - Food doesn't count.
    - Each piece of clothing counts as one thing, though a three piece suit or a pair of socks only counts as one.
    - Each book counts as one thing. This one will be especially hard since I have hundreds of books. CD's count as one thing if they're in individual cases, but a book of CD's only counts as one thing. Not that I use CD's much anyway.
    - Art counts as a thing, but a set of 3 prints just counts as one.

  5. Purge the easy stuff.
    Put the totally lame stuff out on the street or give it to the thrift store.

  6. Spread the good stuff around.
    I'm going to make nice stickers or labels for stuff that I thing has some value (monetary or aesthetic) but that I don't want. I'll then give the labeled things to my friends who will love them, and every time I visit someone I'll see something that used to be mine and feel warm inside because they're actually using it and it isn't cluttering up my house.

  7. Decide what I actually want to keep.
    This process will be a combination of deciding on invidudual items and setting rough goals for the percentage of things I want in each category. For example, I might want 10% clothes, 20% art supplies, 10% books, 5% pieces of technology, etc.

  8. One in, one out.
    Like a super exclusive nightclub full of douche bags, I'll have to get rid of one undesirable thing each time a more desirable thing wants in. When it's time to buy my private helicopter that's fine, as long as I get rid of my old broken toaster that has a frayed asbestos cord and stays on indefinitely when the bread gets stuck in it.

    When I can't find anything that I want badly enough to get rid of an existing thing I will know I've reached my goal of owning 1000 perfect things.


Anonymous Drew McManus said...

Interesting project, Jonathan. Melissa is going through a similar process right now.

8:55 PM, September 04, 2007  

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