The more stuff you have, the more time you have to dedicate to managing and hunting for things. Here are several simple ways you can reduce the amount of stuff in your life to help make it easier to find things that are important.
- Keyring Cleanup – Get rid of any extra keys. If you are like most people, you probably have several keys that you can’t even remember what they go to. Sometimes it helps to keep a separate keychain at home for those odd little keys that you don’t want to lose, but don’t need to carry with you.
- Card Shuffle – Go through your credit cards, ID cards, supermarket cards and get rid of the ones you won’t use. I keep about 4 cards with me and the rest stay at home in a safe place in case I need them. I put my frequent flyer/hotel rewards cards in my computer bag because it keeps them out of my wallet but insures that they are with me when I travel.
- Glove Compartment – You probably have a bunch of junk in your glove compartment. Get rid of the expired proof of insurance cards and other random items that you no longer need. If you ever get pulled over, it is much easier to find the required information when you aren’t having to dig through 5 years of expired papers.
- Medicine Cabinet – Get rid of any expired medicine. It is safer to throw it out then keeping it around. Make note of anything that you are out of like aspirin and add it to your shopping list.
- Purge Your Paper – Your files will continue to grow unless you do something about it. While you need to take care to keep your important papers, you don’t need to keep every piece of paper forever. Taking 30 minutes to shred papers you no longer need can help put your file cabinet on a diet and make it easier to find things.
- Books – I love books. When I hit 800 books, I had to go on a major book cleaning binge. There are some books that you will simply never use again. This is particularly true of technology related books that become outdated very quickly. Some books are still worth something now, but you’ll be lucky to sell them for $0.10 in 9 months. Amazon makes a great place to sell books that you don’t need anymore.
- Software – Most people accumulate various pieces of software that they don’t really need any more. Even if you can’t bring yourself to throw away that Windows 95 CD, consider throwing away the box and simply keeping the keycode and the disk in a CD case. You can easily reduce several shelves worth of boxes to a small zippered pouch.
- Coins – I have a box full of coins. Since I bank online, I can’t take it in and have them counted and deposited. Instead, I keep it in the car where I can use it for tips at Sonic or toll roads. If you frequently travel toll roads, consider using plastic zip locks to pre-count the toll amount so you don’t have to fumble with a bunch of small coins while cars build up behind you. Chicago toll machines take pennies. There is something incredibly satisfying about dumping 80 pennies into the machine in order to lift the toll gate.
Originally published April 09, 2008.