Culling the Clutter

General life cleansing has been an ongoing process for me this and last month since I decided to go on this trip. My life has gotten so cluttered over the years that I've been distracted by school and work so it's time to cull all the crap.  


Think about how much junk e-mail you get in your inbox. Just a few examples of mine were weekly triathlon training tips (I haven't done a triathlon since 2011), unsolicited emails from Crate & Barrel & David's Bridal after only buying one registry gift and one bridesmaid dress, respectively, and tons of emails from the likes of kate spade and Anthropologie. I have more than enough purses and clothes already without being tempted by OMG SURPRISE SALE up to 80% OFF TWO DAYS ONLY. So instead of just deleting these or ignoring them as I usually do, I made a conscious effort to unsubscribe from each source of superfluous messages as I received them.

Sometimes I'd unsubscribe from an email list and then become infuriated briefly because of the obnoxious irony of receiving one more email from said list confirming I had unsubscribed. >_< Anyways, I'd estimate I've unsubscribed from at least 150 different lists so far. So now when I see that little red number on the corner of my mail icon on my iPhone, I know it's all important stuff. 


But all those intangible messages aren't nearly as bad as the mountain of paper junk mail that you undoubtedly receive each year. According to

  • Junk mail in the US accounts for over 100 million pieces of mail each year – about 20% of all mailed delivered in the world
  • Every year, American households receives a total of 104.7 billion pieces of junk mail, or 848 pieces of junk mail per household, which requires 6.5 million tons of paper
  • Approximately 44% of junk mail goes to landfills unopened

Personally, I don't get much junk and when I do, it goes directly from the mailbox to the curbside recycling bin. If there's a credit card offer, I usually take the extra step of using a sharpie to black out my name & address and ripping the papers and envelopes in half to protect my identity before they too get recycled. But after I leave my adorable little home, I'm not counting on the next resident to do the same when he or she still receives my junk mail for a few months because according to my own personal experience, most Americans don't give a sh*t about recycling.

I'm not sure why I stopped in the first place, but I'm going to start using Paper Karma again to unsubscribe from unnecessary credit card offers and catalogs. It's a free app that only requires you submit photos of the unwanted mail and then they do all the work to get you off multiple mailing lists. 


Think about how many contacts you have in your phone. How many of those people have you actually spoken to in the past year? The majority of my contacts I hadn't actually contacted in over a decade and includes people and places from what seems like past lives. (I have had the same phone number since high school after all and I intend to keep it as long as possible.) 

So every now and again when I have some downtime waiting at a doctor's office or when I'm placed on hold during a phone call, I start deleting old contacts in my phone one by one. Almost all of them bring back a brief memory or two or at least a vision of that person's face in my mind if I remember them at all. As of today, I've purged A-S and will make it to Z before I leave in June.

With the seemingly unlimited amount of free apps available today, it's easy to accumulate a ton of phone clutter. I've made a conscious effort not too download too many but I also went through my phone again and deleted non-essential or rarely used apps. 


Even though my little house is only about 400 sqft, I'm still amazed at the amount of stuff I have accumulated that I don't actually use or need. Over the past few weeks I've donated six large bags of clothes and miscellany to the thrift shop nearby and I'm sure more stuff will make it's way there before I leave Florida. Starting next week, I'm selling almost everything in my place on Craigslist and will be storing only the essentials like my Vitamix, my favorite clothes, various art collected from friends and foreign travels, some tools and basic kitchen utensils. I'm expecting everything that makes the cut to fit in my little Mirazda when it's all said and done. 


Honestly, it feels really good to get rid of so much clutter and to detach from so many material things that just don't matter. Decluttering your life will lead to decluttering your mind. I'd rather focus my attention on people and places and experiences instead of having it divided among so many distractions.