You come home from work at 7 pm. It’s been a long day. The shoe rack has 3 pairs of shoes more than it is designed to hold. There are no hooks available on the hanger. Nearby, a pile of clothes, waiting to be ironed. The sink — filled with a heap of dishes waiting to be washed. Your room is a mess, and of course, the bed still needs to be made, because there was not enough time for it in the morning. Ugh.
Most of us, including me, have been in a situation very much like this. It is not pleasant to come home to a cluttered home with all these chores waiting for you.
But how did we come to this? You must be a lazy person, if you do not keep your room cleaned up or do your dishes on time, right?
I do not believe so. I believe it is because of the fact that we have come to own too many things. Once you go past a certain amount of items in your house, it becomes impossible, to keep all of them in their appropriate place and state. Our attention span is limited, and has its limits. Once that limit is reached, some things are left out.
Most of us are way past the limit of item ownership.
Just look at the statistics:
The average U.S. household has 300,000 things. (LA Times)
Just think about how much stuff this really is. Imagine, a pile of 300,000 items. Even if it is only paperclips. 300,000 paperclips is nothing to sneeze at! Now imagine that these are all different items and, that you have to put all these items somwhere in your house. No wonder it is impossible to keep everything in order!
Since things are not in order, it is often hard to find something you’re looking for among all these items. The average American wastes 55 minutes a day (roughly 12 days a year) looking for things they own but can’t find (The Daily Mail). Just think of what you could do if you had an extra hour every day! You could hit the gym, spend some time with your friends, hell, even watch some more Netflix!
As I see it there are two ways around the problem:
- Having more room for all the things you own,
- Having less things.
1 in 10 American households already rent a self-storage space and spend over $1000 a year in rent (New York Times Magazine).
In the US alone, self-storage is an industry estimated to be worth $31.6 billion. And it has been steadily growing for the last few years. (SSE)
Having more storage space inevitably leads to owning more stuff. And owning more stuff just takes you back to the source problem. One can’t possibly keep 300,000 items in order. Having more space will not help you remember where you put your things, nor will it free up your time, mind or wallet.
I firmly believe that none of us need that many items. Don’t believe me?
In the UK, the average ten-year-old child has toys worth almost £7,000 but plays with just £330 worth of them. (The Telegraph)
Ok, they’re just children. What about adults, you ask?
The average American family spends $1,700 on clothes annually. In 1930, the average American woman owned nine outfits. Today, that figure is 30 outfits — one for every day of the month. (Forbes)
You can call me crazy, but I do not believe that the average woman needs an outfit for every single day of the month. I think that every single one of us can reduce the number of things we own. And these things are not just clothes or toys. If you really think about it, you can live without most of the items in your house.
I believe that, by reducing the amount of things we own, we can free up our houses, and subsequently free up our minds and our time.
So next time you purchase something, pause for a second and think,
Do I really need it?
This is a re-published post from theReductionist.net. Check it out if you want to see more posts like this, or join my mailing list to receive updates about my posts.