The 1 Year Rule to remove your Clutter

The 1 year rule

“May the 4th be with you”

Here’s a quick rule you can

apply real easily. Look around you. Look at all the stuff that you have. Go ahead – do it now. Did you notice the amount of stuff that you have? Mr. Smith recommends the Rule of 1 year which is if you haven’t used it in a year – I’m talking 4 seasons have passed – get rid of it! Whether it’s recycling it, giving it charity, putting it on ebay or craigslist – get rid of it. I don’t mean store it away and find someplace it should be. That’s organizing – which is another article – this is more about removing clutter from your life.

I’m always astounded by the number of friends and family that have asked me to help them move in the past and one thing that really is a killer are media collections. Whether it’s their Wired Magazine collection that goes back to 1999 or their CD collection that is making a dent in the floor or even perhaps the book collection that goes back to the age of 4 – if you haven’t used it in a year – get rid of it. Now, all things being fare – if you collect it and it’s your prized collection – then NO – don’t get rid of it. But if you have happen to have a comic book collection, a collection of costumes, shoes, CDs, college and favorite books along with other non-media collections – shot glasses, Steelers memoribila, toys, video games – things are bound to get under control. Prized collections should be unique items that say alot about you. It’s something that you truly care about – NOW. Not 10 years ago. Now. Now is such a short time in our lives yet we hold on to these past sentiments. These past beliefs we had and still follow to this day. I can’t tell

you the number of friends I have in their late 30s who haven’t reduced their book or CD collection (what are those) since college.

Let’s start with music. Unless you have a prized vinyl collection that you would rather be

buried with than sell or give away – your music should be digitally available. In other words, if you have an actual bookshelf covered with CDs and take pride in how it provides decoration – you’re kidding yourself. You probably haven’t opened one of those cases since 2008. Yeah, remember 2008 – the Chinese olympics. Yeah, that long ago. If you have a folder filled with CDs – you better get rid of that right now. How?

How to get rid of your CD collection in 30 days or less:

  1. Take out all your CDs and put a stack right next to your computer.
  2. Count the total number and divide it by the number of days you want to accomplish the task by – or simply (#_of_CDs/#_of_days) . So if you have 300 CDs in your collection and want to finish this in a month – just divide 300 (cds) by 30 (days) (300 / 30) and you get 10. That is your daily goal – 10 CDs a day. Weekends or what have you. Is the math simple, yes – but when you see a stash of hundeds of CDs –

    you just give up. When you break it down to a number at 10 or less – it becomes easily understood. “Hmmm, rip 10 CDs, that’s like 20 minutes, I’ll do that while I’m doing my last emails for the day. If you have a cool company that you work at with a little privacy – do it there. Pack it with your lunch.

  3. Each day as soon as you sit at your computer – dedicate the time it takes to rip/copy that daily goal (10 CDs) into your digital music collections be it iTunes or Windows media or what have you.
  4. Every time you sit at your computer take out 10 CDs and put them in another pile. Neatly stacked.
  5. When you are done. Take a picture of that stack and post it in the comments below.
  6. Take those CDs and you make the call, either sell them on craigslist or Amazon, give them to someone, or give them to charity by either donating them to your local library or local homeless shelter. Last but not least, you can always

    give them away to The Salvation Army or Goodwill. You can also arrange for them to come by and pick it up!

The same can be said for books, paperwork, comic books, or any collectibles that you’ve outgrown. There I said it – “outgrown”. If you were into something from the ages of 22-28 but it’s been 5 years since you actually did something related that you enjoyed – then you’ve outgrown it. That doesn’t mean it’s a childish past time but rather – it’s not a priority now.

Consider the alternative:

  1. This is stuff that will weigh you down. The Buddha said, “People cleave to their worldly possessions and selfish passions so blindly as to sacrifice their own lives for them.”
  2. Every time you move, those are additional boxes, additional runs, additional weight to bear you


  3. The more stuff you have – the more boxes you’ll need. Boxes are a pure expense when moving. Oh, thinking about free boxes from local stores and restaurants and work? Better idea. Regardless – more boxes to move.
  4. Your friends will dislike moving these boxes over and over.
  5. You don’t have space for them so you put them in storage. Now it costs you money every month.
  6. Lastly, you find a place, you settle into it, you unpack all your CDs, books, DVDs – what have you – and organize them. Now every month – don’t forget to dust in that area if not you’re going to get that sick layer of dust after time. You’ll be reminded when you pull that yearbook from 15 years ago and when you look at your finger, you’ll be reminded what all this is – dust.
Jawas and their toys

Jawas and their toys. Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press:

Consider technology: Every year it goes down in value. If you have a piece of hardware that’s 5 years old and you don’t use – get rid of it now or you’re going to wind up someday feeling like you’re a Jawa in Star Wars surrounded by your old junk.

Lastly, reduce it if you can’t get rid of it. If you have a large collection, consider the pieces most prized and all else – bonus.

  • Comic Book Collection: Keep the 1-3 titles you really enjoyed. Download entire comic book collection torrents.
  • Shoe Collection: Consider what’s in style, and what you can reuse with your wardrobe.
  • Clothes: If your closet is packed, time for some spring cleaning. If it doesn’t fit you anymore – get rid of it or lose the weight. Give yourself a deadline – “I have 90 days to fit in these jeans or they’re gone.” (Learn to love yourself a little more. There’s a time and a place for everything and if right now you don’t fit into these clothes – worry about that some other time.)
  • CDs: Convert them all to Digital MP3s, please. Even if you love the artwork – keep the books if you’d like – but reduce the CD boxes and clutter.
  • DVDs: Who buys these? Consider Netflix, Amazon On-Demand (30-day free trial) or your very own Cable provider. Otherwise you can purchase the digital download from iTunes.
  • College Textbooks: These are the modern day encyclopedia sets. Nobody ever references them and yet they keep them “just in case one day I have to look something up”. It’s why God gave us the Internet, people!
  • Old Cellphones no matter how scratched or beaten they

    are: Sell them online at Gazelle, or better yet, donate them.

  • Old Laptops, Video Game Systems, Navigation Systems or MP3 players: Sell them online on ebay or donate them.
  • Photos: Scan them or use a scanning services such as DittoBee. DO NOT USE CVS. Local photo places can charge a ridiculous sum of money running at about $0.40 a print. I highly recommend DittoBee because you can spend $180 and scan a collection of 1,000 photos (at CVS this will run you $400!). You don’t look at them in their folders or boxes anymore anyways. Think about it – you pay this small service fee for a new life for your photos that you can now upload to your favorite social media tool – Instagram, Facebook, Flickr, etc… The look on your sister’s face when you show her that picture of her hair in the 80s and post it on Facebook – Priceless.
  • Toys: Pick the prizes. Donate the rest to your local family homeless shelter, send them to a global agency like Turnaround Toys or sell it on eBay.

Hopefully this article jogs something in your life. Less is more – more opportunity for growth. You’re an ever evolving spirit – give yourself that room you need move on.
Want to read about other methods of de-cluttering your life:

photo by: Jim Bauer