Back to School: Too Much Stuff

Back to School theme week! Check out Monday’s post about eating consiously and Wednesday’s post about the best advice for students.

At this point, I have finally moved in and settled (somewhat) in my dorm room. To get here, it required a great deal of preparation and culling of the vast amounts of stuff I have accumulated over two years. Until this summer, my stuff had been divided between my dorm/apartment and my home for all of college.

Even though I take what seems like my entire life to college, I still leave so many of my belongings at home. Some of these items when I think about them don’t seem like they are particularly important. (I’m looking at you tiny wooden clogs.) Once you start going through the little items you’ve collected though, there are just too many memories to get rid of them.

So much clutter!

Blogger Erin Doland of Unclutterer, whom I’ve featured before, tackles this problem on an almost daily basis. Most people do have difficulty separating from the stuff they’ve accumulated because our stuff invariably gets tied up in our experiences. I have always dreaded cleaning for this very reason.

One of the problems when you let too much stuff accumulate should be relatively obvious: Your stuff exceeds the space you have for it. In a dorm room, that’s a pretty easy line to cross. Last year, I had a large box of health supplies with backups on toothpaste, deodorant, contact solution etc, and I realized that I was buying duplicates of items I already had in this box because it was too difficult to check on my current supply before I bought new materials. As they say, the first step is to acknowledge that you have a problem.

Getting rid of stuff is not enough of a step though. Ideally, you also want to keep that stuff from entering your space. This requires a different attitude toward purchasing that is difficult to maintain in a “Buy 1, Get 1 Free” consumer culture. Doland suggests using the red velvet rope test to determine which items truly add value to your life and which items shouldn’t be allowed into your exclusive club. This test has proved tremendously helpful for me as I realize just how much of my stuff does not pass the test.

It’s a work in progress, but my club is getting more and more exclusive as I get rid of the unimportant stuff and keep the valuable items. Now, to stop buying the clutter in the first place.

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Additional Links

Unclutterer is a fantastic blog, and I highly recommend it if you need help cleaning or otherwise have an interest in these types of questions.

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Do you have a lot of stuff? How do you figure out what stuff is important and what stuff isn’t? Let me know in the comments.

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