A short time ago I was tidying up some things in my bathroom for a party I was hosting. I decided to remove some things from one of the open shelves to make sure nothing got accidentally bumped off by my guests. Even though my bathroom has a perfectly useable and empty medicine cabinet with a door on it, I refused to use it. Instead I elected to store the items in a box which I stashed in my bedroom. It seemed funny to me that I remained committed to not using the empty cabinet even though it would have been very temporary.
When I moved in I decided to remove the medicine cabinet, even though it’s still on the to-do list. I’ve actually found it’s quite handy for visitors to place their toiletries when they stay over. However, I’m quite strict about using it for myself. My feeling is that once I “move in” it’s just going to become another space I’ll end up filling over time.
After graduating, one of my first jobs required me to clean up 60+ years of backlog for the directors’ offices at a public library. This included files for all past and present directors from the last 6 decades. The records clerk and I processed the files with great gusto, destroying some and sending others onto the city archives. In about 6 months we had reduced the volume to 1/3 of its original size.
When I do this kind of work, people are always extremely appreciative and then immediately start to wonder about how to prevent future accumulations. One of my less conventional recommendations is to remove half the shelving, thereby forcing people to run out of space faster and address their growing pile of files more regularly. If the space is there, you will fill it.
This strategy will also work with digital files. Tired of accumulating so many digital photos and electronic documents? Limit your storage space rather than always buying more to accommodate a bunch of digital files that you probably don’t even remember, will never look at again, and bring you no value. As an added bonus, you will also save time with upgrades, migrations, and backups.
Tip: keep your electronic and physical possessions lean and mean by restricting your space and forcing yourself to use what’s available to store your things. Save strategically.