Living Without Baggage – How To Remove The Clutter From Our Lives.

About 3 years ago, I made the decision to remove anything superfluous currently in my life. In my mind, I’d be down to a suitcase in no time.

Whilst I did get down to a suitcase pretty fast, everything else ended up in a storage unit and was only temporarily out of sight.

It certainly wasn’t out of mind, and it took a further 12 months to clear it all out. It didn’t fully hit home how light I now am until a recent trip back to Australia, where I packed everything I own into my suitcase.

According to the airport scales, my life now weighs 23kg.

That doesn’t include the surfboard that I will be bringing to Bali from Australia when I return. What that number means is the total amount of belongings that I need in my life.

If I move to a different place again, I can give it away to someone who needs it. Same with the cooking equipment that I have purchased for the house. Everything that I truly need right now, totals 23kg.

How I culled it all.

The process wasn’t easy and some hard decisions had to be made. At the time I chose to categorize things into 3 piles.

  • To Keep.
  • To sell/give away.
  • To throw away.

At first the pile with the keepers was big. I’m talking storage unit big. So that then became two piles – One with things I plan to take on the road, and the other to be stored.

The selling and giving away pile held everything else. Unless it was a spare paperclip or obvious rubbish, the throwaway pile remained empty.

The hardest part was letting go of the memory items – Photos, pictures, art. But after it was gone, I’ve never missed it.

I digitized any documents that I thought I would need using CamScanner and stored everything in Evernote. Photos were scanned and the important ones were put in Dropbox as well as on my Macbook. For things like tax documents, I just bundled them up and left them at a friends house in case I ever get audited. Hopefully I will never have to see those again since I’ve moved completely to online bookkeeping software, that allows me to attach my documents to each claim I make.

1 week ago I got reminded of the importance of remaining light. When I arrived in Australia and changed my sim card over in my phone, all of my contacts disappeared. Even when I replaced the Indonesian sim card again, the contacts were nowhere to be seen.

A reminder to remain light.

For the first 3 days I freaked out and was Googling how to retrieve the contacts from a backup file, without restoring the entire backup.

Then I just surrendered and remembered that it’s all part of the process of remaining light. After all, I’ve never had a complete contact clear out since I got my first phone 14 years ago. It was time.

That started the snowball effect of what else I could reset on my phone. So I decided to sync all of the photos to iPhoto and then delete them from my phone, with the promise of always deleting the photos after every re-sync with the Macbook.

This way I can focus on what I want on my phone, rather than a cluster storm of the random photos that I take every day. The worthwhile ones get uploaded to Instagram anyway.

Now now I have a phone with a handful of contacts and only the photos that I have taken since my last backup. I’ve even turned off iCloud sync for the photos. If I lose my phone and a days worth of photos, so be it.

The next step will be to clear out 95% of the random photos in iPhoto and sort the remainder into albums that actually mean something.

For now though, it’s about making progress.

What about you?

What have you removed from your life for the better? Or what do you need to remove to declutter a little?

Leave a comment below.