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100 A Day


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#1 DonRocks

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 11:25 PM

I'm not sure where to put this post, but I think it's tangentially related to "well-being," so why not in one of the "Fit For Summer Challenge" forums?

I've been thinking about doing this for a long time, but today I actually *did* it.

Whether I want to admit it, or not, I'd started to become something of a "hoarder." Karen died, and I was left with an entire lifetime of her things, and 90% of her life was spent before she knew me, and after her parents helped me go through her things, I still had a lot of items to grapple with.

Likewise, my own "memories" had accumulated - meaningless pamphlets, receipts, folders, etc. - over the years. A basement just full of items - books, papers, etc. - that just didn't have that much meaning to me. It seemed like a good idea to keep them at the time, but over the years, I realized that they just aren't that important. If anything ever happened to me, they would be a total burden to my descendants to rummage through and discard, and I do not wish to burden my descendants.

In the past couple of years, I'd begun to reverse the trend, but not enough, not as much as I really wanted to.

So today, I embarked on a program that I've been thinking about on-and-off for several years now. It sounds extreme, but I really don't think it is. It sounds Draconian, but it's not. It sounds simple, and it is:

Discard 100 Items Per Day.


"Discard," to me, means "donate first, recycle second, throw away third." It was SO EASY to find 100 things to get rid of in just a matter of about 30 minutes. An old "receipt" was one item. A leaf that I had dragged in from outside and was sitting on my living room floor was one item. I was swooping through and picking up dozens of things within minutes, and it was *so easy*. None of these things mean anything to me, and getting rid of them was incredibly liberating. If I can't "rush out to Salvation Army," they'll wait in a Hefty Trash Bag until I get around to taking them. My recycling bin was fed nicely. I didn't actually throw away much at all except for a bucket of old tennis balls (each ball counted as one item).


I hope to keep doing this every day for the time being. What I want is to be left with the truly important things in my life - pictures, letters, cards, souvenirs, semi-precious objects - and for them to be in such a manageable quantity that I could pack up and move in a matter of a day or two.


If I do this every day for about 30 minutes (that's all it takes to come up with 100 things - really!), I'll be rid of 10,000 items in just over 3 months. That is what I want in my life right now: simplicity, and portability, with the really *important* things remaining so I can look at them with a tear in my eye. When in doubt, I'll keep something, but I'll be darned sure to put it in a place that will be nicely organized.


I need, I want, about 10% of my current possessions. I have so many clothes to give away to people who will benefit from them.


100 Items Per Day. That is my goal. And I believe that is my methodology for helping me to achieve happiness and feeling organized.


The first day was amazingly easy, and took almost no thought at all. It sounds like *so much*, but it isn't. It really isn't at all.


I'll keep you posted how it goes. And if I miss a day or two? I'm not going to stress about it. It's nice to be disciplined, but not at the cost of "giving up" if I fall short a few times.


Anyone else in with me?


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#2 ktmoomau

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 11:42 PM

I think this is great. I am pretty fierce at weeding out items we don't need. A habit I think I got after the fire in our house and losing a lot of sentimental items. We have lots of stuff we don't "NEED", but I try to get rid of many things we really don't have any real use for and isn't very sentimental. Having a two bedroom condo certainly helps with that. I might not get to 100 each day, but I am in with you!

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#3 DonRocks

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 09:15 PM

It took me all of 10 minutes to find 100 things today. Dozens of bandages from 2009, just lying around in a basket. What in the hell have I been doing keeping these? (I found your get well card, Mango!)

Ironically, I missed yesterday - only my second day! - so I'm going to discard 200 things tomorrow.

I don't think it's going to be very difficult to find 10,000 things I don't need or want. 100 days from now, I'll own 10,000 less things, thank God.

And when Matt goes off to college? Europe, here I come with a one-way ticket in my pocket.

dr.com European edition? Damned right.

Let's get cranking, Rich.

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#4 WWZ

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 09:50 PM

I'm moving next Saturday, so I'm with you Don. Last night I came upon things that were over 10 years old - and I hadn't looked at them once since that time.

#5 DonRocks

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 09:52 PM

I'm moving next Saturday, so I'm with you Don. Last night I came upon things that were over 10 years old - and I hadn't looked at them once since that time.


I can speak from experience that the time to start throwing things away is *before* the move! I have shit sitting in boxes from *three houses ago*.

To keep:

pictures
letters
cards
precious receipts
trinkets from trips

To discard:

phone bills from 1987
empty prescriptions that are 7 years old
books you couldn't care less about
junk

At the end of the day, what do you really want to reminisce about at the end of your life?

One thing I did a few years ago was to go out and spend about $10 per storage box at Crate and Barrel, and I use one box per year (each box is actually labeled "1993," "1994," etc. I actually have a matrix sitting on my floor (which has been there for about five years!), and whenever I find a souvenir from a given year, I'll throw it in the corresponding box. This is an example of what they look like, except mine are a bit smaller and nicer - they zip up, and they're waterproof. Theoretically, when I'm "done," I'll have about 25 boxes, each labeled by year, that takes up no more space than a bookshelf, but will contain an entire lifetime of memories, sorted by year. If any of my descendants want to see what I was doing at age 27, they can go to the appropriate box. I splurged for nice boxes (the ones pictured are pretty ugly) because I didn't want something hideous to look at (and I can always sell them later for 50% of what I paid for them). They're fabric, will last a lifetime, and can certainly be passed down - that's why I didn't mind paying $200 or so for 20 empty boxes. Just the other day, I found a Charlie Trotter's receipt from 2000, and it meant SO much to me. It's sitting right there, in the "2000" box. I cherish that receipt more than I can ever tell you.

The problem with this excellent strategy is getting through the moving boxes full of papers strewn throughout your garage and basement, but it's a very good strategy all the same. Not cheap, but money well-spent. This is a completely separate concept than the "100 a day" discard that I'm writing about here, but between the two, they work pretty well for organization.

I still have to figure out what to do with "the naughty box." Is it really worth keeping? Less and less so as I'm getting older. Everyone has one (and don't pretend otherwise), and it's a great point of personal stress when you live alone and have children.

True story: my friend Curtis bought me a bottle of "Jack-Off Lube" as a gag gift when I was in my 20s. I lived with my parents at the time. It was nothing more than some sort of sexual lubricant with a sickening smell of fake raspberry, BUT, it had an *extremely* crude picture of a naked man on the front label, masturbating with one hand; his other hand crammed up his bum. Yes, it was funny, and a cute gag gift among guy friends. Cute, that is, until I found it one day sitting in my dresser drawer atop freshly folded clothes which my mother had washed. She was about 65 at the time. What, exactly was someone in my position supposed to have done in this situation? (In case you're wondering, I just told her the truth and laughed it off - what else could I do? She didn't care, and in fact she left it sitting there to embarrass me, but I also don't think she believed me. Thank goodness my parents were awesome. Sorry to get all misty-eyed, but damn I miss them both.)

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#6 WWZ

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 10:30 PM

I can speak from experience that the time to start throwing things away is *before* the move! I have shit sitting in boxes from *three houses ago*.

To keep:

pictures
letters
cards
precious receipts
trinkets from trips

To discard:

phone bills from 1987
empty prescriptions that are 7 years old
books you couldn't care less about
junk

At the end of the day, what do you really want to reminisce about at the end of your life?


Yes, Don - I'm trying desperately to lose the junk before the move, otherwise I feel I'll be saddled with it as you indicate... I have thought about your last sentence above - there are some things that I wanted to throw away but in the end decided to keep because I wanted to be reminded of at least some aspect they represented, if that makes sense.

That's a good mom :)

#7 DonRocks

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 10:35 PM

That's a good mom :)


Great mom (and dad). And they are both missed like I can't even begin to tell you. :(

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#8 DrXmus

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 10:57 PM

We watch "Hoarders" on A&E and that seems to keep me from keeping unfinished projects, things that "I can do something with", old items that don't really have value but they've been in my life for many years, etc. My wife heard a trick from Oprah, I believe, and that is to take a picture of your sentimental tchotchkes that have no use except to take space. Save the picture and get rid of the item. The picture will jog your memory just like the physical item, which is why you're saving the item to begin with. For example, my wife had a toy about the size of a shoebox that was about 40 years old and had many happy memories attached to it. I was in a box of stuff that we just moved around but rarely looked in. Why keep this kind of thing? We didn't. Took a pic and donated the toy. If we're baring our souls, I'll admit my weakness is thinking the old items I have from childhood (Police backstage passes, Disneyworld paper tickets, a poster, unique keychains) are valuable and I can sell them for mucho deniro. It's just not true.

Good for you guys cleaning up the house and donating what you can.

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#9 DonRocks

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 11:21 PM

We watch "Hoarders" on A&E and that seems to keep me from keeping unfinished projects, things that "I can do something with", old items that don't really have value but they've been in my life for many years, etc. My wife heard a trick from Oprah, I believe, and that is to take a picture of your sentimental tchotchkes that have no use except to take space. Save the picture and get rid of the item. The picture will jog your memory just like the physical item, which is why you're saving the item to begin with. For example, my wife had a toy about the size of a shoebox that was about 40 years old and had many happy memories attached to it. I was in a box of stuff that we just moved around but rarely looked in. Why keep this kind of thing? We didn't. Took a pic and donated the toy. If we're baring our souls, I'll admit my weakness is thinking the old items I have from childhood (Police backstage passes, Disneyworld paper tickets, a poster, unique keychains) are valuable and I can sell them for mucho deniro. It's just not true.

Good for you guys cleaning up the house and donating what you can.


I'm all for taking pictures of the tchotchkes, in particular, digital pictures. I totally agree - the picture will evoke most of the memories. There's something "special" in terms of holding the item, but for most items, pictures will suffice. For truly special tchotchkes (10 in a lifetime), there is no substitute for the real thing.

My mom passed away 18 months ago, and she was certainly a hoarder. It created a burden for sure. Many of these items evoke sad, precious memories, but the truth is, it would have taken 40 hours a week, non-stop, for several years to sort through everything. She was pretty good about organizing, but not good enough. You owe it to your descendants to discard these things, and I will give Matt that gift. Things that are "meaningful" to me won't be meaningful to anyone but me. My memories are joyous and intact; yet, they will die with me. Things like "dated postcards from 1965?" Sure, they take up no space, and can be thrown into a box (one of my Crate & Barrel boxes). The Erma Bomback paperback from 1964? Not so much. My memories of my mom are inside my head. I'll always love her, always will, and these cardboard momentos don't change a thing.

1) Donate
2) Recycle
3) Discard

Do it.

Matt will have a few keepsakes, but he will primarily love me for loving him. That is my goal.

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