The Value of Time

The focus in our group this week is to think about the value of our time. We talked about donation versus selling and the recurring theme of Stuff = Time. I like to compare our jobs as Managers of Stuff to any other job. How much would you pay yourself to manage the process of getting rid of your stuff? When you think about your time’s worth in dollar amounts, it’s easy to reason that selling something is often not worth the loss of time it actually takes to sell the thing.

A few of our ladies, myself included, have talked about the freedom that comes with donating something and donating it fast. Once it’s gone, it frees your mind to no longer think about what you are going to do with it. It’s not just the time it takes to organize and care for the thing, but it’s also the time we spend thinking about what we are doing or going to do with it.

Years ago, my mother had these lamp. I wish I had a photo of them. They really were a treasure to rest your eyes upon (insert sarcasm). Nobody appreciated the gaudy beauty of these lamps, but they were my grandmother’s lamps that my mother had inherited after my grandmother passed. Mother had wanted to get rid of these lamps for a while, but instead of doing it, we talked about doing it for a few years. They were ginormous and took up too much room in her house and every few months we’d talk about how she needed to get rid of them and… one day we, finally, actually did. By the time we did, the Ridding of The Lamps had become an event. We took them to the thrift store and dropped them off right next to an old couch that had the plastic covering actually upholstered into the seams with the underlying fabric. I know my Italian grandmother would have dreamed to have a plastic upholstered couch. We knew the lamps were meant to be there.

And after that day, we never talked about those lamps again. Because we didn’t need to.

And isn’t that what we do with so much of our stuff? For one excuse or another we make plans to keep things, or save things, or find the most lucrative way to sell them but all of that planning is an investment of our time. Time that we can’t add to. Time that we could be doing other things.

Stuff requires our use or enjoyment to prove beneficial. Our stuff needs us, not the other way around. Saving things that we don’t really want or won’t use in a reasonable time frame is a disservice to our stuff, and will eventually have an adverse effect on our lives if we aren’t intentional to manage it well. Stuff that lies dormant for too long becomes clutter and clutter becomes quick sand for other things we do need to use.

Three years ago when I told my husband I wanted to get rid of a lot of things, he looked indifferent. He didn’t really see what the big deal was to have what we had but he was fine to get rid of some stuff if that’s what I wanted to do. I promised him that if he would let me go through the whole house, that I wouldn’t get rid of anything that was specifically his and if I did get rid of something (our shared stuff) that he ended up needing, then we could rebuy it.

We have continued to declutter consistently since then and in three years I don’t think I’ve gotten rid of one thing we missed enough to have to replace it. But I can tell you multiple times in my life that I’ve had to buy something to replace the same thing that is lost in my clutter somewhere.

So that means that having too much stuff has actually cost me more time and money replacing items (because they are lost) than getting rid of clutter and having less stuff. Keeping stuff because I might use it for an indefinite one day is completely counter-productive to being able to use the stuff I need now. Clutter makes organization harder than it has to be. It makes it easier to lose things and it fills spaces within our homes that could be used for intentional things. My one day stuff becomes clutter that makes it harder to find my today stuff.

I hope this is a bit of encouragement in the upcoming week. Decluttering is about more than just getting rid of things. It’s about new habits and freedom. It’s about a life with time to do other things, more important things. Wherever you find yourself, I pray you find yourself on the pursuit to a Life Less Cluttered.

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