Many of my clients ask me the same question when we first meet: “Are you going to make me throw all my stuff away?”
In our culture, we get really attached to possessions. They comfort us, give us a sense of achievement, and create a sense of home base. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this concept.
However, my response to my clients who ask this question always ends up coming true: “I’m not going to make you get rid of anything, but you’re going to surprise yourself with the quantity of things you decide you no longer need.”
I never tell anyone that they must throw something away. I never prescribe a quantity of things that must go. I’m not a minimalist by any stretch, either in my work or in my own home! However, in general, I do believe that less is more, because it’s easier to get and stay organized with less.
That’s why I’m so fascinated with Joshua Becker, author, blogger, and husband and father of two, who’s living an authentically minimalist life with his family. In particular, I gravitated to his article To Declutter Any Room, Ask These Two Questions.
Becker is notably anti-fashion, which as you have likely noted by now, is not my own perspective. However, his stance doesn’t bother me, and I don’t think this takes away from his core points. I think of fashion as an extracurricular activity: not everyone has to participate, but if you enjoy it, knock yourself out!
I especially love that he wants us to ask why. Why do I need these things? When I work with clients, I always ask if they love something, and if they use it. I’m going to challenge my clients to go deeper, and ask why they have things. The answer will tell us both a lot about how to get organized.
I also appreciate the way he ties organization and possession into consumption. With so many of my clients, part of the reason they can never get organized is that there is a continual influx of large quantities of stuff that overwhelms their ability to categorize and store it. When you can reduce the speed and quantity of your consumption, and purchase things infrequently and carefully, it’s so much easier to live an organized life!