Happy Independence Day! In the spirit of freedom, let's talk about the continuous cull. First of all, it is different from a periodic purge. The periodic purge (i.e., de-cluttering, going through) is the equivalent of cleaning out the refrigerator, something to do from time to time to get rid of old, forgotten, unused, moldy, and expired items - but with other areas of your space, wherever or whatever it may be. The continuous cull is a habit, one that constantly evaluates the stuff in our possession, asking if it brings value to our current life. Practicing this habit serves to free us and our home from the unwanted and unused so we can use our spaces in ways that fit us now and live our lives instead of brooding over stuff.
From experience, the process of purging gets easier as we get better at knowing our needs, acknowledging our wants, and identifying what we truly value. Once you understand what is really important, the superfluous becomes clearer; getting rid of it becomes increasingly effortless. As a result, everything you own eventually reinforces your priorities and your values.
Some of the benefits of continuously culling are apparent: stuff does not accumulate (as badly), it takes less time to find things, it is easier to stay organized, fewer piles form, less clutter exists and so forth. But other benefits are not nearly as obvious. Getting dressed is easy because you like everything in your closet. Cleaning takes less time because, well, there isn't as much to clean. Cooking is fun again because you aren't bombarded with overstuffed drawers and cabinets to find the utensils you need.
But who has time to continuously cull?! Well, it helps to have already done a thorough de-cluttering beforehand. However, if you're starting out slowly, here are a few things we implemented that may help you:
1) We placed a somewhat large decorative container by the door that serves as a catchall for our 'no-longer-needed' items: things to be donated, magazines to be recycled, clothes to be consigned, etc. As we come across an item we don't need anymore, we put it in the container. When it's full, we follow-through by donating or recycling the stuff, which is key to making the system work. Also, if possible, resist the urge to take something out - you put it in there for a reason!
2) Every time we bring something home, we let go of something else (or relegate it to another purpose, such as making rags out of old shirts) to limit unnecessary accumulation. Nowadays, before we even purchase items, we try to make sure it has an immediate purpose & location in our home. Consumables like food or hygiene/cleaning products (within reason) are exempt of course!
3) We mainly purchase things for the purpose of replacing something or meeting a true need rather than for therapeutic reasons. Instead of shopping to have fun, we are aiming to enjoy more experiences: concerts, new restaurants, various classes, trips, and the like.
4) We started paying more attention to what we actually use and what we don't. Often times, we thought we desperately needed something, only to find that we don't even use it regularly. We started reminding ourselves that if we didn't use it, we were going to lose it!
As you enjoy the freedoms available in our country, hopefully you allow yourself the opportunity to be free from your stuff!