A few thoughts from Matt Judge, VP Sales at Imaginestics and public speaker:
Part One of 10/10 addressed the value of accomplishing something by 10:00 AM. You can find that by scrolling on this blog page or clicking here.
Let’s look at the other 10:
10/10 PART TWO: GET RID OF TEN THINGS A DAY
This seems like a tall order at first, but it will make sense.
As George Carlin said in 1981: “A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it…That’s what your house is, a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get…more stuff! Sometimes you gotta move, gotta get a bigger house. Why? No room for your stuff anymore.”
People in the consumer society own far more than they will ever use. Who needs all of those single socks, all of those jackets, and a pair of roller skates that don’t fit any more? Why does anyone need four tape measures?
We have shelves full of plates and glasses we never touch. Do you think at some point you are going to have 30 people at your house? And if that does ever happen, ironically, you will use paper plates and plastic cups so no one breaks the 30 drinking glasses you are hoarding. We have multiple copies of everything, and still, in response to advertising and marketing, we feel compelled to rush out and trade our scarce money for…more stuff.
The British designer and writer William Morris said,
Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.
Call this to mind as you look around your house or apartment, your garage, your office, even the trunk of your car.
Imagine that you will have to move soon and look at each object with this in mind: “Do I really want to put this in a box, move it, and find a place for it again?” Or worse, consider that something terrible happens to you, and a family member now has to contend with everything you have accumulated. (I have had to manage two estates. Trust me on this.)
If someone cleaning up your estate would simply throw it in the trash or donate it to Goodwill, that should be a clue to its value.
So do this: get rid of ten things a day. It doesn’t take long and it’s easy at first:
- clothing you don’t wear
- unused sports or hobby equipment
- pillows you simply move back and forth and never actually use
- old sheets and towels you keep just in case
- cosmetics you don’t like anymore but that are still on the shelf
- keys that don’t fit anything
- old cans of paint
- electronics no one will ever use again
- board games you haven’t played in years
- those 50 pens in the catch-all drawer
and so on.
You can start with a theme: today we dispose of shoes, or start with a room, today we purge the bathroom, but get rid of ten things every day. It is freeing.
Doing this on a consistent, daily basis makes it a habit. It changes your mindset from accepting clutter to one of appreciating order and open space. It creates a check in your gut when you start down the well-worn path of clicking Add to Cart every time you are online. You will start to question whether you really want to bring this thing into your house, knowing that you will discard it again someday…maybe soon.
The same applies at the office:
- old promotional items you will never give out
- ink cartridges for printers you don’t have any more
- break room shelves full of dusty coffee mugs from vendors
- electronic equipment you think you can get working again (but that hasn’t worked in years)
- old laptops and monitors
and on and on. This ten-items-a-day exercise will not only make for a more visually agreeable office, but you may also discover useful things you didn’t know you had.
Let’s talk about books.
Books are tricky and very personal. Most people accumulate books. A full bookcase can be both intellectually satisfying and visually pleasing, but books must be part of your consideration as well. On a personal note, I treat most books, especially novels, like magazines. Once I have read it, I’m done. It goes into the donation box. If appropriate, I may donate it to a school. As a history nerd, I keep history books I will likely refer to again, just as you may decide to keep all books related to your interests. But novels and most other books are one and done.
These personal decisions cannot be dictated by anyone else, but, like other items headed for donation, this may require input from others in the household. (During a school book drive, I once donated a children’s book my kids had grown out of. I did not realize it had been personally signed by Eric Carle. Oops.) But books must be part of your ten daily items you are getting rid of. Once an unused book is gone, you will never miss it, and the open shelf space is easier on the eyes.
If you have a standard American basement and garage, you probably have a depressing amount of stuff in each. Do you need three identical screwdrivers, a broken lawn chair you promised to fix four years ago, a box of bicycle parts that has 15 years of dust on it, or an old pair of boots that are cracked with age? You know the answer is No. So, get started.
As you get rid of ten easy things a day, you will find, with time, that you are cutting close to bone. At some point, it’s not easy anymore, and you are down to things you know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.
When the visible objects are no longer cluttering your house, garage, basement, office, and car the way they were, this is when you start to get rid of paper. We all have files or files or stacks or binders of paper that is no longer relevant. Instead of being overwhelmed by it, get rid of ten sheets a day.
Think the same way: why do I have this? Would I really want to put this in a box and move with it? Would I want someone going through my estate to have to deal with this? This exercise in purging paper will only take two to three minutes a day, but it keeps you on track.
After paper, move on to photographs. Again, a shoebox full of old photos is daunting, so just do ten a day. You may want to keep your mom’s 4th grade school photo, but do you really need six of them? A photo without context is meaningless, so use this opportunity to put names and dates on the back of every photo you handle.
Also, this is a great time to sort mystery or duplicate photos into stacks to give to family and friends. It may no longer have value to you, but someone may want it.
Finally, if you need a break from clearing out objects and paper and photos, purge electronic files. Sitting in a waiting room? Delete ten videos from your phone. Watching a game on TV and a commercial comes on? Delete ten photos from your phone or laptop.
This, by the way, applies in greater proportion in reverse order of age. Young adults who are just starting out will not have the burden of excess and duplicate objects — and they can start the physical purging process early while it is still easy — but they accumulate enormous numbers of photos, videos, and other electronic files that had fleeting importance but are now just clogging storage space.
You likely have not just files, but entire folders on your laptop full of information that is no longer relevant and will never be missed. Delete. If you don’t know where to start, do a search for all of your files and sort by date, with the oldest at the top, and start deleting. Doing ten a day keeps the project manageable and gives you time to look at the file if needed to verify that it is OK to delete. This same process works for emails.
Another option is to do a search on your computer for files sorted by size. If you can start by deleting the large ones first – cat videos that were funny the first time, electronic brochures, songs you don’t listen to anymore – you will both stay focused on purging and your computer will work better.
Finally, as you get rid of ten things a day, what do you do with all of this?
This is a last resort and should only be done if other options are not available, but it’s better than keeping clutter in your home.
Glass, metal, cardboard, all of the usual items that can go into the recycling process should go there. If you do not have recycling immediately available, it is not difficult to find recycling centers.
Recycle the sheets of paper you are purging. If the page has a significant number on it, shred it, then recycle it.
Many cities now offer ongoing or monthly recycling drops for electronics, paints, solvents, batteries, light bulbs, and other items that should never go to a landfill. These may be called ToxAway, Household Hazardous Waste, HHW, Community Collection, Tox Drop, Safe Disposal, or something similar. https://earth911.com/ has a helpful Where to Recycle page. You will likely find yourself setting aside a box for disposal of such items a few times a year.
So many charitable organizations are out there, such as Goodwill and Salvation Army, that could use donations. They also sell books online, so that is an option. Never take broken electronics or similar items that will never sell. The charity has to pay for disposal of such junk, and this cuts into their finances.
Can your books go to a local middle school or high school library? Think first about a financially disadvantaged school that doesn’t get a lot of donations. What about those 3-ring binders, four pairs of scissors and 70 extra pens you have? Don’t dump these things on the school, but call and offer. They may want what you have. If they don’t have a need, give it away online.
Other places to donate your purged items could be churches, women’s and homeless shelters, and similar outreach organizations that are on the front lines of human need. Again, don’t assume they will want it – call and ask first. Make sure things are in decent condition before donating, i.e. don’t donate an item that doesn’t meet your own quality standard. If it is really that bad, or that outdated, would anyone want it?
If you have items for eBay or Craigslist and want to go that route, the ten items exercise is a good way to pick up a little cash. This is true for unneeded office items as well.
If these things are not good for eBay (such as heavy or bulky items), you can put them on a local outlet, such as Facebook Marketplace, Offer Up, or NextDoor. Remember, the idea is to get rid of these things, not maximize profit, so price low and be done with it.
If that all seems like too much ongoing trouble, you can have a yard sale where everything is $.50. You will be extremely popular for about two hours. This is a quick way to move the items out of your house and into the hands of people who can use them.
Throw away damaged or unwanted photos, but sort the rest into stacks to give to family and friends who may appreciate them. You may even have photos a local organization may want, such as a historical or genealogy society, high school or college. Whatever you decide with the donation stack, move quickly to get it out of your house or it will just become something else to contend with.
Social media outlets, like Facebook Marketplace and NextDoor, are a great way to give things away. Your trash may be someone else’s treasure.
10/10 in the new year
This is being posted in January, which is always a good time for re-evaluation. We each have to make our own decisions, but I hope this will serve as a marker if you are trying to find your way.
I came up with the 10/10 idea gradually, not as an article, but as a personal solution. The first part of 10/10 – accomplish something significant by 10:00 AM – was something I needed. After six concussions, I am easily distracted and can let important tasks be pushed aside by unimportant ones. This is a real problem in my line of work. That is how I determined to cross a finish line of my own making by 10:00 AM every day.
I should note that I had a goal to finish this article by 10:00 AM one day, but despite a lot of progress, I could not. So, I finished it the next day. It was more like 10:50 AM on Day Two, but my schedule allowed for it. No problem. The deadline kept me on track.
I also tend to hang on to objects that have sentimental value or that I think I might need someday. The only possible outcome of this is the unnecessary accumulation of stuff. A cluttered life makes for a cluttered mind. It’s unsettling and it makes it hard to find things you need.
So, around 2018, I started getting rid of ten things a day, and through that have purged thousands of household and office objects, sheets of paper, photos and electronic files. I have not regretted nor do I miss a single one of them. (OK, except the Eric Carle book.) My home, office, garage, closets, and even car are easy on the eyes and the spirit.
It is my hope you will have nothing in your work or living space that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.
© 2022 Matt Judge firstname.lastname@example.org (317) 966-4599 Contact me to discuss VizSeek Visual Search or our other technology solutions.
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