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?


  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.

    1. Thanks for your comment Marjana! If you go to 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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