The Beauty of Spring Cleaning

This is a guest post by Sean Ogle, whose blog, Location 180, covers topics ranging from travel to lifestyle design to entrepreneurship (all while he plans his great escape and crosses items off his impressively thorough bucket list). Show him some love by commenting below and checking out his blog!

Over the years I have come to the realization that I am a veritable pack rat. I take a look around my house and I find years of stuff that has accumulated, however when I decide it is time to start throwing things out, for some reason I am able to get rid of very little. I get into the mode where I start convincing myself that I will wear clothes that haven’t been touched in half a decade, or that my collection of baseball cards may actually be worth something some day. It has taken me a long time to realize that the clothes will never be worn and that the baseball cards are just as worthless as they have ever been. However, I have finally begun to embrace the idea of downsizing.

In one way or another, everyone can benefit from a little spring cleaning. Maybe you are just de-cluttering your home. Maybe you could use the money and have a few items you can sell. Or maybe you want to get rid of everything and move to Buenos Aires. Whatever the reason, downsizing your life can have pretty substantial benefits.

Let’s start by considering the monetary benefits. I am currently in the process of selling my car. That’s $230.87 a month I am saving on the car payment alone. I will no longer need to worry about parking or gas, or insurance for that matter. Sure you will have to come up with an alternative means of transportation, but there are millions of people that are able to get by without a fancy automobile, and I am sure you could do it as well if you really wanted to.

Maybe you also have a storage locker full of stuff you will never use again, but just haven’t gone through the trouble of getting rid of. I know a guy who still has a locker across the country that is left over from his move 15 years ago; something is wrong when you are paying 50 bucks a month for stuff you haven’t seen since the mid nineties.

Aside from the many financial advantages that occur from cleaning out your life, there are other gains as well. I know when I last went through all my stuff, I found things I thought I had lost forever. Old pictures, books and a three year old Starbucks gift card that I was still able to use. Sure you might end up getting rid of most of your new treasures during the process, but the point is, you never know what you may find.

I am also a firm believer in the old adage: a cluttered home is a cluttered mind.  By taking the time to throw out the unnecessary papers, clothes, books etc. that you no longer need, I guarantee you will instantly feel a drop in your stress level.

Now just because we understand there are benefits to minimizing the amount of stuff we have, doesn’t mean going through with it will actually be easy; it’s quite the opposite actually. I had a hard time throwing out sentimental things like ticket stubs and even old gifts I never really liked in the first place. A few strategies I found to be helpful:

  • Focus on one thing at a time. For instance, I would go through my file drawer and not focus on any of the other stuff that was scattered about. If you look at the process of spring cleaning as a series of smaller projects, rather than one big one, you are much more likely to get things accomplished.
  • Use the one year rule. If you haven’t touched something in one year, it is probably safe to say it doesnt need to be in your life any more. Sure there are exceptions to this, but it’s generally a good rule. This is how I finally forced myself to get rid of my old pair of skis that will NEVER be used again.
  • Decide where you will get the most value. If you are unorganized, spend your time working on things to make your world more organized. If you need money, focus on finding the items you can sell. If your home is too cluttered, decide what can be removed to make the biggest difference and move it. There are plenty of ways to go about it; you just have to decide what works for you.

Hopefully this helped you to identify some small things you can do to make big changes in your life. Cleaning out some of the unnecessary items in my world has ended up making me much more productive and less stressed about everything going on in life.

Update: May 9, 2016

I don’t have much to say on this one, since it wasn’t mine, but I believe this was the first guest post I hosted, and as that was kind of the thing to do if you wanted to grow a blog back then, it’s notable in that regard.

I also still see Mr. Ogle from time-to-time, which is fun. Back in the day most of us only knew each other through our blogs, but over the years we met up, became real-life friends, and slowly but surely figured out our next steps. A lot of the people I know from back then are still doing blog-supported activities, while others are organizing events, have started non-audience-focused businesses, or became employed by some nifty company or another.