It feels great to get rid of junk. You feel productive. You feel free. However, if you truly want to be free of clutter, here’s a better solution: Avoid bringing it into your home in the first place.
Photo by Robert Couse-Baker
Personal finance writer Carl Richards points out a silly paradox — we buy stuff to feel good and then we feel good throwing it out later. Sometimes feeling productive isn’t the same as actually being productive, and this is kind of the same idea: If you keep buying more crap and throwing it out, you’re stuck in a cycle of consumption and purging, and that’s a waste of money and time.
Instead, Richards suggests getting to the root of the issue with a “seven-day quarantine”. He explains:
I recommend a stuff quarantine of seven days, particularly if we’re talking about anything that costs more than $50. Anything that you’re considering ought to sit in your head for at least a week, and you should test it out on your fellow customer officers…I’ve fallen in love with lululemon’s ABC pants for men. I bought a pair, and now I really want them in another colour…So I ran the idea by my wife.
“Are you kidding me?” she said. “You’re going to buy pants that you’ll wear two or three times, and then will just hang in the closet?” She’s taking her screening duties seriously.
It’s hard to admit that there’s a slight chance she’s right. But in reality, she probably is. So the camo pants will go in the quarantine bin — for now.
Look, I know that buying things feels good. So does tossing out stuff that you don’t use. But wouldn’t it feel so much better to spend that time and money on something you’ll actually use or enjoy instead?
Sure, thinking about purchases is not a new concept, but I love his point that spending and purging give you a similar rush. Living in a more resourceful environment is less about decluttering and more about not buying crap you’re going to toss out in the first place. For more detail, head to his full post below.
New Rule: All Purchases Subject to a 7-Day Mental Quarantine [The New York Times]