Considering Your Possessions by Time as well as Space

As humans, we have many possessions. We need clothes and kitchen items for cooking. The things we own can be out of necessity or from simple appreciation. The amount varies from person to person as well as the amount of space available to each person. The decision of what to keep and what to get rid of depends on the values of that person as well as the space they have available. The individual, who is an avid cook, will likely keep all the various accoutrements for whipping up things in the kitchen. Finding a way to think about the things you collect in a new and different light can be challenging, yet can offer realizations, changing your view of the collection.

I think we all have something that we treasure and are reluctant to part with. This is illustrated by the person who will make other sacrifices to make room in a less logical place for those items. The bookshelf in the bottom of a closet or kitchen items in other rooms are two examples.

One standard approach is to assess the space available. There are the concrete limitations of your space. The amount of flexibility you have can depend on the size of the rooms. There are tools and furniture to help try to maximize the area you have available. The layout of the closets and cupboards can significantly constrain options for you. Unless you are able and willing to move or do major renovations, this is what you need to find ways to cope with. This is the time to think about what you value enough to consider putting in an “odd” location. If you are serious about living without excessive clutter, having small spaces can help you figure out what matters most of your belongings. What are you willing to part with so that you can keep something else? When you start thinking about what you are willing to sacrifice in order to keep something else demonstrates where your priorities are.

Lately I have found that thinking in terms of time to be even more powerful. It is useful for those things that might even have space available, but just because you have the room for something, does not mean that you need to be holding onto it. Using time as a gage can shift the way you think of things.

Last year my husband and I decided that we wanted to make a point to listen to each CD we owned. We were sporadic about it last year, and as we were talking about it, I looked up the number of albums we own. It struck me that we could listen to one album every day and it would take almost two years to get through our collection. With that number of albums, it is not surprising there are albums that we cannot remember the last time we listened to it. Part of the reason we wanted to listen to every album was to evaluate whether we wanted to keep it, so we are continuing to review our collection of CD’s. Framing the number of CD’s in relation to how long it would take to listen to each one, helped illustrate how hard it can be to appreciate some large collections.

Yet, we want to appreciate the music and with that number, how much are we truly appreciating it? Are they all worth the valuable space they take up? Would someone else appreciate them more? The answers to these questions help figure out what is worth keeping and what needs to find another home.

Media, in most forms, is something that I collect: if you can read it, listen to it, and even watch it, I am reluctant to part with it. With the CD’s, it would have been simple to ignore it until we ran out of room in their cabinets. This inspired me to look at the other media I own and consider it in terms of the time it would take. The video collection was excessive, considering how often and what I watch, so this too I have trimmed down, only keeping what I love and value.

Considering your possessions in terms of time can prompt a completely new way of thinking about your things. Use any increment of time that makes sense to the context and ask yourself how much you will be able to use or appreciate the items within that time frame. In the course of a year, are you going to use all of those 12 muffin tins? If you have clothes that you wear less than once a year, how much (if any) of them are worth keeping?

Only you can decide what is worth keeping, no one can come in and tell you definitively what to keep versus what to get rid of. Your values and interests determine what needs to stay, though thinking about them in terms of space and time can help you figure out what things are no longer important or necessary. As a human you will always have possessions, and determining which things are worth holding onto can only maximize your appreciation of those items.

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