minimalism

Things and Stuff. … and Junk

I don’t remember when I first decided I needed to own less Stuff, but it might have been when I moved home from college. Or it might have been two weeks later when I had to move 700 miles to my first job with just a small car to carry my belongings. It may also have been a couple years ago, when I moved from the East Coast back home via UPS. And then from home back to the East Coast two and a half weeks later.

In any case, all of those things have taught me the value of owning less Stuff. For starters, moving is way easier. But it’s also less stuff to simply move out of the way, or to dust, or whatever. On reddit, I subscribe to a sub-reddit called /r/battlestations, which is literally just pictures of people’s desks (for the most part). I also subscribe to the Lifehacker Workstation Flickr Pool RSS, which is exactly the same thing, from a different source. These things fascinate me. However, I recently realized that I am often unproductive when I sit down at my desk at home, because there was too much crap on it, and it lead to too many distractions. So I got rid of it all. Almost. I didn’t count before hand, but I now (literally as I write this) have 13 things on my desk:

  1. Postcard my parents sent me from their cruise to Alaska
  2. Photo of said parents taken on said cruise
  3. A lamp
  4. A water glass
  5. My phone
  6. My laptop
  7. The power cable for the laptop
  8. A binder clip, which will prevent aforementioned power cord from falling off my desk, when I unplug aforementioned laptop
  9. A pen cup, containing:
  10. A blue ball-point pen
  11. A Sharpy
  12. A black fountain pen
  13. A VPN authentication token for work

Occasionally, I also have a notebook, which as I type this, I realize contains notes on this post. So NOW, I have 14 things on my desk.

I can think of at least a dozen other things that were removed, which took up a LOT more space. I don’t really miss them.

Between what I am calling the “minimalist desktop” experiment, and some interesting blog posts from Sean Bonner about his Year of Less, I decided I should get rid of more stuff. Then I thought it would be a lot easier to get rid of stuff, if I knew what I actually had.

So I made a list. Of Everything* I own.

You can see the list here.

Now that I have it all accounted for, it’s time to start slashing the list. That’s the fun part. I plan to keep the inventory as up-to-date as possible. If you feel so inclined, you may continue to monitor it.

  • There are quite a few caveats with this list. First, I didn’t include anything that lives in my bathroom. This is because the majority of the things in there are perishable, which aren’t worth counting. The same goes for things that live in my kitchen. Most of it is either perishable or not mine. I do have a few bits of cookware, but it’s easier to just not count those rooms. I have also not included anything at my office or in the basement of my parent’s house.

I have not counted accessories that came with stuff. eg. the charger for my laptop, or the cable for my phone. I didn’t count the remotes for my TV or Boxee, or the cables used to plug them into the TV. I did, however count the second laptop charger I bought so that I could leave the other one permanently on my desk.

I did not count anything in a container, if I consider it to be a set. For example, my bag of tools is one item. I didn’t count the hammer, the measuring tape, or the wrench set. For that matter, I didn’t count the individual wrenches or the contraption that binds them together for storage.

I did not count attached accessories. For example the keyboard on the bottom of my XBox controller, the cable wrapper on my travel laptop charger, the buttons on my messenger bag, or the lapel pin on my jacket.

I try to keep the boxes for the electronics I buy. 1) to make moving them easier, and 2) to (hopefully) increase the resale value. I did not count the boxes separately from the items.

Finally, this is an inventory of physical items. I did not inventory the MP3s on my hard drive. I counted the XBox games I own on disc, but not the ones that are downloads.

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