Un-needful things

I am totally intrigued by all the prompts for this week, and I want to do them all.  I’m just going to start with the most recent one and work backwards.

Prompt: 11 Things. What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?  Prompt by Sam Davidson author of 50 Things Your Life Doesn’t Need

Eleven things I don’t need, huh?  In no particularly order:

1. hassle

2. household clutter

3. guilt

4. emotional clutter

5. tiredness

6. junk food

7. bickering children

8. leftovers (stuff hanging around unfinished, not just food)

9. inconsistency

10. those old computers in the basement

11. toys the boys have outgrown

Okay, so those first nine are a little different than the last two but they are all valid, so I’m running with it.

I  love this prompt.  I got up this morning and thought about my to do list for today and then thought ‘To hell with it!  I don’t want to spend my whole day getting the house ready for Christmas and not have any pre-Christmas fun.’  This prompt ties right into that liberating thought.  I am ditching the guilt and embracing the fun of Christmas prep, instead of saving the fun for after the work.  I’m starting elimination of things on this list NOW, damn it! Whoot!


So how am I going to go about eliminating these things?

As for today, I am going to do some tidying – while blasting music and hanging with my kids – but I am also going to make some gingerbread with the boys and help them finish the Christmas cards.  And we are going to go for a walk in the snow.  Take that ‘work first, play later’ attitude!

As for my 2011 plan, I’m going to treat the list in groups.

Group 1: hassle, guilt, emotional clutter, tiredness, bickering children, leftovers, inconsistency,

These things all grow from the same seed, the same thing I identified in my first Reverb10 post.  I don’t set good boundaries in my life, I don’t have structure.  Without structure everything seems important all the time and my life is all about reacting to external things.

I’ve been re-reading Chip and Dan Heath’s book Switch: How to change things when change is hard and making notes about how to make it easier for me to adopt the structure(s) I have in mind.

Basically I know I have to make it easy and habitual to follow the structure by eliminating all the decisions about what should be done when, and I have to make sure not to tire out my will-power.  And I have to identify the things that really matter to me so I can use that identity as a means to automatically make other decisions (i.e.  ‘A self-caring person like me knows it is better to go to sleep when I’m tired than to stay awake reading.’)

When I get this structure in place, and hence eliminate all* of these things I don’t need,  I will  be better able to say no to things I don’t have time or energy for, and I will be building my energy all the time with good self-care habits.  I will have a consisent plan for getting my work done so it doesn’t seep over into other parts of my life, and I will be able to ditch ‘leftovers’ from other sets of past priorities.

Group 2:  junk food

Damn, I hate the way I eat and I hate the way I feed my family.  The structure I discuss above will help me with planning better things to eat, but that’s not the only source of this problem.

I have a lot of trouble with the notion that some foods are ‘bad’ and others good.  Even the ‘worst’ junk food has some nutritional value and I hate how foods come with moral values attached to them.

Yet I know that some food serves my body’s purposes better than others.  Some foods give me energy longer, some foods leave me feeling bad after I eat them.   And I want to feel good, and I want my family to feel good (and to be well fueled) but getting into complicated food rules.

So I am labelling food that doesn’t make us feel good as junk food, and I am going to find the easiest path to keep us eating food that does make us feel good.  And how will my life feel after that?  I can only assume it will feel GOOD.

Group 3: household clutter, those old computers in the basement, toys the boys have outgrown

Some ‘leftovers’ fall into this group as well, but this one is more specific, so I’ll handle this clutter group separately.

I feel bad about the things in this list.  I feel bad because a lot of it represents a type of person I thought I was, or things I thought I’d do with my kids, or stuff I meant to be better at.  And I feel bad about the idea of throwing these things out, so I’d like to find the perfect place to donate them.

I recognize the futility in this line of thinking, yet I haven’t changed it.

If I were to let go of the things that didn’t pan out, I could make so many other things pan out from what I know now, so I need a plan to ditch those old things.

I’m going to use Julie Morgenstern’s SHED principles and pick a time each week to go through some of the old stuff and pick the things I really want to keep and ditch the rest.

I think this is going to feel very freeing as I let go of things I meant to be, so I can decide where to go next.

*I know there is a limit to how much bickering I can eliminate, but I’m thinking of the kind that stems from boredom and lack of movement, not the basic sibling type bickering.

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