24 September 2016

70 – Three Simple Things, Pt. 2: Declutter

This is the second in a three part series of essays.

If you haven’t already, you may wish to spend some time in #69 first. Even if you don’t I’m sure the very thought of 69’s got you all riled up.

Anyways, Christmas is 3 months away. But I’m already thinking about it a lot.

We’re anticipating the start of The Christmas Rush in the warehouse anytime now. And that’s fine by me. I like my job, and I like being as busy as an elf. Until the day I decide I want to become a dentist.



Chewing over his future.

I’m also looking forward to going down to NewfLand for Christmas. Note #1: no matter where a Newf is in the wide world, going home is always ‘down.’ All Newfs live somewhere above geography.

The preparations have begun. I’ve got my time off from work and my flight booked. My brother-in-law, ManNugget, is stockpiling new batches of homebrew. And The Old Man is stockpiling wood for the Christmas bonfire.


My Christmas story.

I’m also anticipating the Annual Christmas Argument with Mudder. Note #2: there’s no ‘mom’ or ‘mother’ in NewfLand. It’s Mudder, whether they likes it or not.

The Annual Christmas Argument is always about the same thing. And it always starts something like this:

What do you want for Christmas, honey? says Mudder.

Nothing, says I.

Now Bob, you got to get something for Christmas, b’y, she says.

No Mudder, I don’t want any more stuff. I don’t need anything, says I.

B’y the lord Jesus. . . . Bobby! You can’t not get nothing for Christmas!

This goes on like that for a while. All you need to know is that myself and Mudder agree to disagree. And so she gives me new socks and underwear every Christmas. And we’re both happy with that.

The point is this:

I hate stuff. And life is better with less of it.

According to The World, stuff is a key marker of Success. I went off the handle about this back in #67. The World tells us that a life full of stuff equals a life of fulfilment, while a life without much stuff equals an empty existence. Success takes up a lot of space, I guess.

The World imposes a lot of pressure on us to own the latest and greatest amazing thing. Most people know that pressure by another name. It’s called advertising.

But I prefer calling things what they really are. And the idea that we need a metric shit-ton of stuff to be happy in life is absolute horseshit.

Too much stuff becomes a real, everyday burden. We worry about where we’re going to find the money to buy more stuff. We question why we bought a lot of that stuff in the first place. This often happens when we’re trying to figure out where we’re going to put all that stuff when we’re cleaning or reorganizing our homes.

Those worries follow us out the door. We fret that we forgot some stuff while commuting to work. We become anxious that we forgot some stuff once we’ve boarded the plane. And we grow agitated when we can’t remember where we packed some stuff when we’re moving into a new home.

Too often we feel like our stuff owns every room and closet in our homes. Too often stuff gets in our way. Too often stuff distracts us. Too often stuff stresses us out.

Too often we feel like the stuff we own actually owns us.

You probably know the feeling. I do too. And I did something about it.

So allow me to table a motion for your consideration:

Get your shit together. Then get rid of it.

Perhaps this sounds shocking to you. Tough titties. Because when something is causing real anxiety and stress in our lives we need to deal with it. And too much stuff is real shit we all need to deal with.

Now don’t just start heaving stuff out the window on to the curb. Because you know that fucking newsbag of a neighbour is going to call the city on you. And next thing you know you’re after throwing out the kitchen sink instead of everything but the kitchen sink.

Here are two tips:

#1: break the big project down into a series of smaller tasks
Instead of telling yourself you’re going to declutter the whole house, focus on decluttering one room, closet, or storage tote at a time. Big projects are easier to see through once they’ve been broken down into a series of smaller steps. And that newsbag will be less suspicious when only a few of your things go to the curb every week.

#2: ask cold, hard questions about your stuff
Some stuff has got to go. You just know it in your gut. It’s that moment when you ask yourself ‘what the fuck am I holding on to this for?’ Those ones are gimmes.

But some stuff falls into a foggy, grey area. But we have to make the call. Some straightforward and honest questions can be helpful, and prevent you from throwing away the kitchen sink:

Do I wear / use this?

Do I really need this?

Will I really miss this?

If you only remember having something when you dig it out of a drawer or closet then you’re not using it. If you’re not using it then you don’t need it. And if you don’t need it then you’re not going to miss it.

Decluttering is not about getting rid of every earthly possession you have. It’s about deciding what stuff truly adds value to your being in life.

Decluttering is about choosing to only surround yourself with stuff that complements your life. Any stuff that’s not complementing your life is complicating your life. And that’s the stuff that’s got to go.

Decluttering is you breaking up with your stuff. You’re ending a relationship that’s stressing you out and dragging you down. You’re freeing yourself to live life on your terms.

It’s the perfect breakup scenario. You don’t have to worry about hurting your ex-stuff’s feelings. You don’t have to worry about whether your ex-stuff will ever be able to move on. You don’t have to worry about your ex-stuff drunk-texting you at 3am. You don’t have to worry about your ex-stuff posting nasty things about you on social media. And you don’t have to worry about your ex-stuff stalking you.

Trust me. Your ex-stuff will take it like a champ. And a lot of little things become a lot better once you’ve kicked your ex-stuff out.

Moving in to a new home becomes much less stressful. You’ll feel like you have more space in your new place.

Cleaning your house doesn’t feel like such a chore. Cleaning is much easier when there’s less clutter.

Packing for a trip no longer requires a detailed checklist. It also requires less baggage.

And you don’t have to worry about tripping over something when you stumble to the bathroom in the middle of the night to take a piss. #winning.


Keys to victory: zeal, focus, and violent hatred.

Getting rid of your shit has another more abstract, but critically important, impact on your life. When you own less stuff you spend less time worrying about stuff. Less things get in your way. Less things distract you. Less things chew up your time.

Decluttering frees up your space, your mind, your money, and your time. Owning less stuff gives you the freedom to live more. It enables you to focus on doing more of the stuff, and connecting with more of the people, that matter to you.

Owning less stuff allows you to own your own life. 

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What's a House Newf?

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The House Newf is from a rugged and beautiful island on the eastern edge of Canada called Newfoundland. He was first identified by a potter with a naturalist's flair, and he does in fact live in a house under the watchful eye of a cat that seems bewildered by the universe at large. That house is in Halifax, Nova Scotia and that's where the House Newf writes fiction and essays on things that add value to his life that may add some value to yours. You can contact him at bobharding80@gmail.com, follow him on Twitter @theHouseNewf, on Instagram @thehousenewf, and like him on Facebook. The House Newf is a unique specimen. Every home should have one.