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Deciding What Goes during the 50 Things Challenge

Guest Author - Emily Wilska

Welcome to Week 3 of the 2009 Get Rid of 50 Things Challenge! (Missed the article with information on what the Challenge is and how to participate? See the Related Links below.) I've thrown myself into the Challenge feet first, and in this week's article, I want to share with you some of the stuff I've gotten rid of, both to give you a sense of how the Challenge is playing out for me and also to get you thinking about things that might be lurking in your own home or office that no longer need to be there.

Without further ado, here's a peek at the start of my list of 50 things.

Item: a 4-cd set on marketing and selling

  • Why I'd kept it around: I'm always game for hearing about new marketing tactics and techniques and figured these discs would be a good way of doing that.
  • How long it had been with me: Since I won it in a raffle at a dinner meeting sometime in 2005
  • Why I decided to let it go: I started listening to the first disc and, alas, couldn't stand the sound of the narrator's voice. I'd rather read her tips on her website using only the voice(s) I hear in my head.

Item: an unused 2006 daily planner

  • Why I'd kept it around: I thought I might use it with my clients as an example of the types of planners that are available.
  • How long it had been with me: Since an organizing conference in late 2006 (yes, it came into my life well after I could really put it to use)
  • Why I decided to let it go: I had never even taken it out of the drawer in which it was stored, much less brought it to a client meeting.

Item: an old pair of glasses

  • Why I'd kept it around: I figured it was smart to have a back-up pair of glasses in case my normal pair broke.
  • How long it had been with me: Since at least 1997
  • Why I decided to let it go: I put the glasses on, looked in a mirror, and audibly gasped at how horrible they looked on me. Plus, I only wear glasses when I'm driving at night or watching a movie or play in a theater, so if my current pair did break, I could wait to get them replaced.

Item: a roll of double-sided carpet tape

  • Why I'd kept it around: This was a classic case of out-of-sight, out-of-mind. The only reason this particular item managed to occupy space in my house was because I had totally forgotten I had it.
  • How long it had been with me: Excellent question! I have no recollection of this object coming into my life.
  • Why I decided to let it go: I have precisely zero carpets in my house that need to be adhered to the floor.

Item: a black knit shirt with a gaping hole under the arm

  • Why I'd kept it around: It was comfortable and made a great layering piece under sweaters.
  • How long it had been with me: Probably since sometime in late 2006
  • Why I decided to let it go: Though I had managed to sew up an earlier (and much smaller) version of this hole, my sewing skills and supplies were not up to the task of another round of mending, and I wasn't about to pay my tailor to fix a $15 shirt.

Item: printed handouts from 5 years of teleclasses

  • Why I'd kept them around: I take dozens of teleclasses each year, and I figured that by printing and storing the handouts for the classes I'd taken, I'd be more likely to refer to them on a regular basis.
  • How long they had been with me: Starting with mid-2004 and running through early 2009
  • Why I decided to let them go: From the two bulging 3-ring binders holding handouts from many, many classes, I have only ever referenced--count 'em--TWO documents. In addition, I realized that I also have the majority of these handouts in electronic form. Should I ever need to look through one of these documents, I can do so on my computer rather than flipping through page after page of paper.

What I'm realizing
As I go through the 50 Things Challenge, what strikes me is that the majority of the stuff I'm getting rid of simply doesn't mesh with my life as I'm living it now. Many of these things--the cd's, the planner, the handouts--represent ideas and intentions that just never played out for me: I intended to improve my marketing skills by listening to several hours of audio on the topic, to become the sort of organizer who brings product samples to show her clients, and to regularly browse through handouts from classes I'd taken.

I did none of those things--and I'm absolutely OK with that. By getting rid of the stuff related to those unrealized intentions, I also get to dump almost all of the guilt I feel around the intentions, which, in turn, lets me focus more solidly on the goals and plans I'm actually following through on.

As for the carpet tape, should I ever find myself in need of such a thing, I'd rather go out and buy it again than have to store it for many years in the meantime (as it loses adhesiveness all the while). And when it comes to the shirt, I can safely say that I've gone through each phase of this Shaker rhyme: "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." Phase 4 of that, here I come.

Onwards! What unneeded stuff can you let go of this week?
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The 2009 Get Rid of 50 Things Challenge
Getting Started with the 50 Things Challenge
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Content copyright © 2014 by Emily Wilska. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Emily Wilska. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Kelly Jayne McCann for details.

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