“The more stuff you have, the more stuff you have to clean.”

For the past couple of days, I’ve been like a mad woman possessed, obsessively finding stuff to chuck and surfaces to clean.My newest obsession is actually inspired by Raul of Jac and Raul whom I met in KL. This guy has the most empty apartment I’ve ever seen in my life.

I’ve always read articles like: “How to Unclutter your Closet”, “How to Simplify your Life”, “How to Keep your Room Free of Clutter”….etc, etc. I’d read them, with every intention to Unclutter My Room, but they never really work too well.

They had instructions, step-by-step guides, suggestions, ideas, etc. But when you peer up from the magazines and see the stacks of papers and boxes of god-knows-what piled high on the horizon, you kind of just sigh, leave the room, and go somewhere else until you forget about reading that article at all.

Stepping into Raul’s apartment was equivalent to those people in movies waking up from a coma to bright lights and bright empty white spaces. It was just that refreshing! No bits and pieces of papers, stray cups, clothes, extra chairs, unused rubber bands, etc lying around.

Every surface was kept as clear as possible. Anything not being used at that very moment is put away. Anything that is one too many is thrown away. No extra pillows. No extra chairs.

It just felt very refreshing to be there. The place was small. But it was bright, clear, and clean.

We talked about how he kept his place that way and why. Of all the things all the books and articles said…..all the advise anyone on TV’s ever given…..only this that Raul said stuck with me:

“The more stuff you have, the more stuff you have to clean.”

Bingo! I find that you can’t really persuade people to throw stuff away. I mean, we all got them for one reason or the other right? And we got them because we once thought they were useful right? And who knows, they might be useful again!

But when you put it to a lazy person that the more you do A, the less you will need to do B……..it’s like throwing work away! The more I get rid of, the less I have to clean! The less I have to maintain! The less I have to do! Woohoo! Why did I not think of that before?

Using my recent sick days at home, in my obsession, I’ve thrown out:

  • a whole shoebox-full of prescription medications (for just in case I get sick with the exact same illnesses again)
  • the original containers for my ipod and external hard drive (for it’s nice to retain the original packaging just in case…..)
  • half a hockey stick (for it’s nice to have half a hockey stick)
  • 3 boxes of my name cards from my old job (for just in case I want to pretend I still work there)
  • booklets listing courses for Spring 2007 (for just in case I want to see what courses were there in Spring 2007)
  • HSBC booklets listing performances of all their funds in 2006 (I might acquire the know-how to read through it one day)
  • HSBC SmartVantage welcome pack (for the day I forget what SmartVantage is)
  • home telephone that I don’t use anymore (well, it looks kinda nice)
  • brochures for mattresses (I was planning on buying a new one)
  • pens that don’t work anymore
  • ……………………….

And the list goes on. And while I throw stuff out, I also rearranged stuff, tidied them, and wiped surfaces down! Needless to say, I’m quite happy with my progress.

And today, the obsession’s spread to my office, where I have many bits and pieces of papers and notes that I don’t read anymore, but keep around “just in case”. Well, today, I threw most of them out. Re-noted important things and filed them. Pens that I don’t use – out. Papers that I don’t refer to all the time, file and stash. Pulled out all of my drawers and cleaned out plastic bags, empty boxes (I realize I have a LOT of empty boxes both at home and at the office), used envelopes, paper bags, notepads, etc etc and threw away what I won’t use and stash neatly what I will use……..

It’s a continuing obsession. And it’s amazingly satisfying.

In his apartment, Raul would look at stuff with a critical eye, trying to see what other stuff he can get rid of. And now, I realize I’m doing the same thing……..everything I look at….I wonder if I can do without it.

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