Setting limits

It’s fairly easy to discern the difference between things you dislike, are broken or ugly from those things you really really love. But what about the fuzzy gray zone of stuff in between – stuff that you think you might want but you are not sure? This is where limit setting becomes useful.

Instead of the excruciating process of assessing each individual item for its usefulness, with limit setting you decide to only keep a certain amount of stuff that will fit within a certain boundary such as a drawer or shelf or will be used within a set time. What ever gets left over has to go. The beauty of this method is it makes the decision making process so much faster!

I first starting using limit setting about ten years ago for keeping wrapping paper. As a recycler I tended to hang onto every single bit of wrapping paper that came my way. I decided to keep only the wrapping paper that would fit in a tiny flat drawer in my desk – which amounted to just a couple of sheets of paper.

This method worked very well – although for some reason I didn’t apply it to other areas of my life. However recently after getting frustrated with my snail pace of progress with my current project to purge my stuff I remembered limit setting.  I have now set limits for stationary (I only keep what I can use in a year), cook books (they must fit on 20 cm long shelf), games (scrabble and cards – because we don’t use anything else), and fabric (two boxes). As a result I was easily able to discard a box of stationary, about five cookbooks, the chess set and about around six boxes of fabric.

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