|Source: Juliette Tang|
Following the Culling Mistakes post, here are a few tips I learned these past years and would like to share with you if it can help. After all, editing my collection of items has improved my life a lot, despite the mistakes I made along the way, and I can only encourage you to give it a try, if you feel so enclined.
Of course, these are not "musts" for anyone's culling process, but rather things that I learned through my own experience. I am using these tips now when I edit my collections of items, and I would probably have avoided a few mistakes if someone had given me these at the time. I hope it helps.
Start With the Question: Why Culling?
Well, it is a stereotypical tip. Mireille Guiliano, in her French Women Don't Get Fat book, starts her tips by suggesting to ask yourself why you eat unhealthily and why you want to turn your habits around. It is the same for the simplification of material items. Why did you accumulate so many in the first place? What improvements are you hoping to get by culling your items? What do these items mean for you, and why?
With your objectives, aspirations and goals in mind, along with a reality check about what culling can and can't achieve, I believe the simplification process can be more efficient, and that you can avoid many pitfalls.
Example: One of my simplification goals is to have a more practical living space, to spend less time doing my daily tasks, make them more fun, store my stuff more easily etc. Therefore, my culling process has been oriented around the usefulness of my items, the streamlining of the daily tasks (such as making tea for example), but also the aesthetical/pleasure to use aspect of things.
Define your Culling Objectives and Criteria
We can't all hire a coach or embark our close ones in your simplification journey, so one good way to minimize these biases is to start by defining clear and logical culling objectives and criteria, such as:
- how many times you have used the object in the past
- how worn out it is
- how pratical it is for the use you have of it
- what is your available storage space or how you can organize your space
- the overall quality, material and finish of the object
- what it brings to your life (that's more general though)
I'd suggest to take the time to prepare such a list, adapted to the item type you will go through. For example, culling kitchenware can include things like "Can it be used in the microwave/dishwasher", culling clothes can include "does it fit my body shape".
Example: When I consider culling a piece of jewelry, my criteria are - what is it made of? Does it look cheap or pulled together? Is it worn out/broken, did I wear it during the past year? If yes, how many times? Is it comfortable, does it stay in place, does it cause any allergies? Can I have it mended/repaired/altered?
Don't Hesitate to Experiment
There are a lot of minimalist or "life coach" blogs out there that suggest a process or ideas to make the most of what you own and experiment living with less. You don't have to radically get rid of everything right now. If you are unsure of your culling motivations, or what criteria you should prioritize, it might be worth starting with some experiments.
For example, why not try the Project 333 to understand your wardrobe preferences better before starting the actual culling process? The minimalists also shared an experiment they made, of packing all of their stuff, and only unpack what they use, to see what they really used daily.
If you are unsure and have storage space available, why not pack the "culled" items away for a while before setting them free for real, to see if you actually miss them or not? This seems to be very efficient, as it dims the "ownership bias" and makes you look at your items more objectively.
Example: I remember doing that a lot when I was in Lyon, since I had a cellar. I'd go through a big simplification week-end as a way to kickstart new habits and change, I'd pack all the "unsure" items away in the cellar and go through them again six months later.
Finally, here are a few more tips, maybe not worth their own big paragraph, but which have been useful to me nonetheless...
- Remember to consider both practical and emotional factors
Emotion alone can lead us to bad decisions, but practical factors alone can take the soul out of things. I believe it is important to have a good balance of the two during the process.
- Always prioritize what you already own over a new purchase
An item is never perfect. There is always a newer, better version around the corner as years pass. Culling an item should be based on the fact that it is inadequate, not on the fact that there is a better one out there. Otherwise, you will never be happy with what you currently have.
- If the item is still in good shape and usable, consider giving it another chance before setting it free
Sometimes, we just want novelty, and our good old things lost their appeal. Before discarding them, it might be worth seeing them through a new light - by looking for inspirations online, new ways to use it, or simply by writing down its uses and advantages to "rekindle the flame".
- Always think long term instead of being impatient
Life editing is a long process, there is no shortcut. It is trial and error, self discovery, slow replacements as we stumble upon a great item by chance. Besides, there is no such thing as a perfect, and "finished" collection of items.
* I can't find the source I read that from. If you get it please let me know, I like to make sure I'm not writing crap.