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How to Throw Stuff Away Without Any Regret

How to Throw Stuff Away Without Any Regret

In the average American home, there are over 300,000 items.[1] That’s true even though 1 in 10 Americans (and rising) rent offsite storage[3] and even though the size of the American house has tripled in the past 50 years.[2] Do some math too: the average American home ownership tenure is about 9-10 years, meaning people are accruing 30,000+ items each year to reach the 300,000 total above.[4]

What is all this stuff, though? It can take many forms: loose change we’ve been hoarding, kids’ old toys, outfits that don’t fit or went out of style, screws and nails, stationery, or items that we have an emotional attachment to, like an old a concert program or record player.

People tend to keep more things because they believe that some day in the future, these things will be useful or gain value. This is right to an extent.  These items, especially ones with emotional memories, are not trash, but whether or not these things are useful for their owners is a question.

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It’s not easy to kickstart decluttering and deal with all the 300,000+ items, most people run into these three problems when they are trying to determine usefulness of an item:

  • Exaggerating or over-emphasizing its need in the future.
  • Underestimating the cost and space it takes up.
  • Ignoring the storage cost.

But here’s a way out.

The Declutter Formula

The best acronym to move past this is using the framework RFASR:

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  • Recency — “When was the last time I used this?”
  • Frequency — “How often do I use this?”
  • Acquisition Cost — “How difficult/expensive is it to get this?”
  • Storage Cost — “How much space and maintenance cost is it tied to?”
  • Retrieve Cost — “What costs are associated with retrieving it or it becoming outdated?”

As you ask yourself these questions, plug in this equation:

R (Low) + F (Low) + AC (Low) +SC (High) + RC (High) = Not Worth It

For example, a typical declutter scenario for many families is clothes, which often flows like this:

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  • Recency: “I last wore this over two years ago.”
  • Frequency: “Even back then, I didn’t wear it a lot.”
  • Acquisition Cost: “I could order something similar online in the next five minutes.”
  • Storage Cost: “This and similar items are taking up 3/4 of my closet.”
  • Retrieve Cost: “It’s so two years ago, too…”

In such a situation, you get rid of the clothing. It’s not going to add value or usefulness in the future.

If there’s an emotional attachment (e.g. a gift from someone you care about) try to remember this: when it was presented as a gift, it already achieved its primary goal. Two or more years later, it’s just clothing taking up space. That doesn’t change the connection to the gift or the person who gifted it.

While the declutter formula can help you get rid of the stuff you have already collected and help you decide whether you should collect or buy things, there’s always a dilemma when you want something more than you need it.

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To combat it, consider waiting a week to make the purchase. In the week, think about that equation and think about the relative degree of want and need. If you decide to purchase the new item, get rid of one item at your house. One in and one out is a relatively simple rule here.

The Hidden Perk of Decluttering

The real value of the declutter formula is more than saving money and space. It is also saving you mental energy.

There’s a massive amount of mental energy involved in organizing and cleaning old clothes and items, or even preparing yourself to do it. There’s also a large amount of mental energy involved in ignoring what you need to do, which is a common tactic of those with clutter. Think about this: if I hand you a white piece of paper with a large black dot and say “Don’t think about the dot,” you will have to try hard not to think of that black dot. That’s plenty of energy spent on trying not to think of the dot.

It’s the same with getting your house in shape. You know all that clutter is there. You know you need to declutter. But you keep finding ways to ignore or procrastinate on it, and that’s actually reducing your attention and priority away from where it should be.

The best way to re-focus on what matters to you and reduce distractions is by repeatedly applying the formula, you’ll have a house full of (a) things you like and (b) things that are valuable to you. That’s a huge win in the decluttering game.

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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10 Best Time Management Books Recommended By Entrepreneurs

10 Best Time Management Books Recommended By Entrepreneurs

We all know that the most precious resource in life is time. Once lost, you can never rewind the clock. For entrepreneurs, this pressure is enhanced.

Having an idea and a vision for a business requires courage. Launching that business in a world where many are satisfied with their comfort zones requires guts. Once you’ve launched the business, the goal is to be consistent.

Success is directly related to consistency. Consistency is the direct result of how you manage your time.

Here are 10 awesome time management books that have been recommended by successful entrepreneurs.

1. The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

This is an awesome resource that jolts everything you’ve ever learned about the time needed to build a successful career. Personally, I was shell-shocked when I first heard of a “4-hour workweek.” At the time, I could hardly get through the typical 9-5.

I read the book and my life has never been the same. I’ve managed to escape the rate race, work less hours, and live life to the fullest.

Joel Bomgar, founder and CEO of Bomgar, had the following to say about the book:

“The productivity principles and philosophy of productivity and effectiveness encompassed in [The 4-Hour Work Week] are powerful. I read it a few years back and it was one of the most life-transforming books I’ve ever read.”

    Get the book here!

    2. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki

    This is another fantastic resource that shifts your paradigm and mindset. This book taught me that income-generating assets usually provide healthier bottom-line results than even the best of traditional jobs. This might not always mean millions of dollars in your bank account, but it may give you that priceless time freedom.

    Dane Maxwell, founder of an incredible resource called The Foundation – a community of over 60,000 entrepreneurs – had this to say:

    “It all started when I read the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad. I’m not a typically really super intelligent guy so I really appreciated the simplistic way that Rich Dad, Poor Dad explained financial wealth. He talked about passive income and not exchanging time for money.”

      Get the book here!

      3. No B.S. Time Management For Entrepreneurs by Dan Kennedy

      Being an entrepreneur is tough. You’ve got to set some serious targets upfront. You might not achieve them all, but you have to gun for them.

      This book gives you three incredibly powerful tips and targets:

      • Self-discipline is the magic power that makes you unstoppable
      • Avoid the time vampires that want to suck you dry
      • As an entrepreneur, your time is worth $340 per hour

      It is impossible to start as $340-per-hour entrepreneur. But, it should certainly be your target as you grow.

      Paul Gallipeau, Digital Marketing entrepreneur, has this as one of his highly recommended reads.

        Get the book here!

        4. In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honore

        We live in an unnecessarily fast-paced world. In Praise of Slowness advocates for the reversal of a fast-forward mentality and lifestyle. It entrenches a culture revolution against the notion that faster is always better.

        For any entrepreneur, this is a must-read.

        There are too many opportunities out there. There are opportunities within opportunities. In the midst of all these opportunities, you need to slow down and have a clearly defined vision that will help you avoid growing into a chaotic entrepreneur.

        This is a resource highly recommended by Joe Griffin, co-founder of iAcquire.

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          Get the book here!

          5. Priorities: Resources for Changing Lives by James C. Petty

          This book addresses time management from a spiritual perspective.

          I’m a huge advocate for the idea that less is more. I truly believe you can get more done by doing less.

          The success of this theory all lies in your ability to prioritize. Not everything that screams for your attention is important. You need to proactively ignore things that are not your most urgent priorities.

          With this resource, James C. Petty helps bring focus into frazzled lives. Using the “Assessing My Priorities” worksheet, he walks you through the process of organizing time under the categories of God, the people of God, and God’s work in the world.

          With sound biblical advice and practical applications, this booklet demonstrates ways in which you can reduce unnecessary stress, identify true priorities, and begin to get your overbooked schedule under control.

            Get the book here!

            6. On The Shortness Of Life by Seneca

            Recommended by Tim Ferriss, the incredible entrepreneur and author of The 4-Hour Work Week, this resource highlights that we have more than enough time to live our lives to the fullest.

            Unfortunately, we waste much of it.

            The book teaches how you can live a more fulfilled life by tweaking your perspective on time management.

              Get the book here!

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              7. Organize Yourself by Kate Kelly

              Shifting your paradigm and mindset is important. That’s the reason why most of these books are geared at changing the way you think about the relationship between time and entrepreneurship.

              This book is about shifting your thinking about execution. Before execution, you need a plan. You need to be organized.

              This book will help you get organized by providing you with essential rules for better time, money, space and paper management.

              It reveals a professional organizer’s proven techniques for streamlining daily life.

              It provides fast, effective methods for dealing with common clutter, along with helping you to overcome procrastination and other organizational ailments.

                Get the book here!

                8. Time Efficiency Makeover by Dorothy K. Breininger

                We all are prone to procrastination at some point or other in our entrepreneurial journey. When things are not going quite according to how you planned, it is all too easy to get distracted.

                This book will help you decide whether procrastination is a real problem or if you are experiencing other life challenges.

                For true procrastinators, this book is filled with step-by-step guidelines on how to stop putting off those home and work projects, unpaid bills and neglected relationships. You will understand what is holding you back and how to keep focused and motivated on present and future events.

                A must-read for anyone who wants to improve the efficiency and satisfaction of their lives.

                Phil McGraw, an American television personality, author, psychologist, and the host of the television show Dr. Phil, highly recommends this resource and has the following to say:

                “These guys really know how to get things set up to maximize your time. They absolutely can create time that seems to come from nowhere.”

                  Get the book here!

                  9. How Did I Get So Busy? by Burton Valorie

                  I was once a busy bee and quickly realized that being busy was not necessarily the most effective way to reach my destiny. As the editor at Run For Wealth, a Nike Run Club Coach, and an online marketer, I have to constantly have to find the true balance between business versus productivity.

                  I highly recommend this book because it’s a simple and effective way to rediscover your true priorities, shift out of overdrive, and reclaim your life and schedule.

                    Get the book here!

                    10. Aligned Thinking: Make Every Moment Count by Jim Steffen

                    Ultimately, we all want to live a fulfilled life. Having a great paradigm shift and being organized means nothing if you can’t make every moment count.

                    This book, written in the style of a simple fable, helps you to develop practical ways to focus on what’s important now and make the moment count.

                      Get the book here!

                      Conclusion

                      As an entrepreneur, you’ll come across many challenges. But, the biggest challenge will often be the issue of using your time effectively – especially early on in your entrepreneurial journey. This is the time when you’ll feel obliged to make everyone happy.

                      Time is a precious resource. For those who truly understand its value, it often seems like they are living in a cocoon.

                      You are not living in a cocoon. As an entrepreneur, you are in the minority, but it’s fine. I hope this list of resources will help you find comfort in the fact that being in the minority probably means you are well on your way to a fantastic and successful entrepreneurial journey.

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                      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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