Friday, April 14, 2006

Personal Productivity: Getting rid of junk

This summer my family will enter into many missionaries’ quadrennial adventure…home assignment.  This will be our first opportunity, but I’m already learning how much junk even a lowly missionary can accumulate in four years time.  That’s why Rick Brenner’s article, “How not to accumulate junk” struck both my fancy and my funny bone.  Check out his article, it applies equally to folks in the US and expats like myself.

Brenner outllines a long series of rules for keeping junk.  His method of getting rid of junk?  First check out his rules on accumulating junk:

Here are my rules (plus some others) for accumulating junk:

  • I might need it someday
  • I can't remember why I'm saving this, but it might be important
  • I think I can get rid of this, but I'm not 100% sure
  • I know I'll use this eventually, when I get the time (or energy)
  • I don't need this now, but if I ever do need one, it will either be expensive or impossible to find
  • Remember when we used these? Wow — I bet you can't even get them anymore.
  • Maybe I can sell this on eBay — oops, the going price is still too low.
  • I borrowed this, and I should return it, but I'm so embarrassed that I've had it so long...
  • I can't throw this out — maybe it isn't mine
  • Hmm, I wonder where the missing parts of this are — maybe I'll find them
  • I don't actually know what this is, but I'll keep it until I can figure it out
  • Ah, this is that box of stuff I sealed up when I last moved, thinking I would toss it if I didn't open it in a year. Can't remember what's in it. Better not throw it out yet.
  • This was a real bargain. Be a shame to get rid of it.
  • If I lose X pounds, I know I look good in this
  • This is a great book. I should read it. []
  • This was a great book. Maybe I'll read it again.
  • This was a great movie (album). I know I'll want to watch it (listen to it) again if I ever get another VCR (turntable).
  • Who's that standing next to me in this picture? Better keep it until I can scan it.
  • Ah, my first planner — maybe. You never know when you'll need an alibi for 7:30 AM, Tuesday, March 23rd, 1993.
  • That computer has sensitive data on it. I better keep it until I can erase it. [GreenDisk, Tech Soup and the Computer Recycling Center]
  • Look at that, the postal rates for 1987. Neat-o.
  • I wonder how long I have to keep these financial records. Legally, I mean. Better keep 'em. [Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement]
  • Another ballpoint pen. Might come in handy sometime.
  • Wonder what's on this floppy (Zip disk, removable cartridge, mag tape)? Better keep it for now.
Did any of these strike a cord?  I’ve kept tons of stuff because “I might need it someday.”  Oh, how I laughed.  Maybe that just because yesterday I threw away a bunch of language learning notes I’ll never look at again.

Okay…the secret to getting rid of the extra junk that’s falling out of you filing cabinet, closet, desk, [insert junk containment construct].  Break one of your rules each day.   Check out his article for yourself.



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