You Don’t Know What You Got ‘Til You List It

Periodically, when I have lots of stuff to do, I avoid it by decluttering and purging a bunch of stuff.

(Note: I used to bake cookies as a form of avoidance, but it’s too warm for that and the butter required is suddenly a rare and precious thing here in Japan.)

(Note: The cookies were awesome and usually handed out to fellow graduate students, but that was another post.)

Part of my decluttering process involves sitting down and listing stuff. I started with pens and fountain pens and was shocked to see how many I actually have (23) and that doesn’t include the two on the way (well, at least one; the other is confusing. Long story).

Of those 23, seven are already retired and at least four of those have enough value to be sold. A few others just aren’t interesting enough to use or keep (which is part of the purge). One of my tests is to clean up a pen and put it away for a while and see if I miss it. If I don’t, it’s a candidate for the purge.

After that, I sat down and listed the bottles of ink I’ve acquired. That was even more shocking: 14 types in 16 bottles–also a long story. One of those bottles, despite my best efforts to like it, is crap. Two of the others just aren’t interesting enough to use or to keep. Some of them I’ve had for a long time and the bottles are half empty but I’ve counted them anyway.

Don’t even get me started about knives and notebooks.

Part of what happens is the acquisitions happen over time. A pen here; a bottle of ink there; both at the same time back over yonder. Inevitably, old purchases get put away and replaced but by new ones but rarely are all the purchases in the same place at the same time. Putting them in one place, I’ve just discovered, is much better than sitting down and making a list. Not only will you be shocked by the pile of stuff but you will forget to add one or two things if you don’t actually look at them.

Even as I wrote this post I realized I’d forgotten to list three pens.

The other list I make is which of the listed items I use regularly and why. That’s down to a half a dozen  pens and six inks. I recently bought larger bottles of two inks I like a lot, which is why I have 14 inks in 16 bottles.

What inspires all this is my desk. I like it cleared off because moving stuff around becomes a kind of distraction, especially when it’s time to dust. (And especially, especially, as right now, when it’s WAY past time to dust.) Over time, though, the acquisitions, and a few delayed decisions and projects begin to pile up and take up space. I get annoyed by it and clean things up and move things out.

Then I start getting more stuff, mostly because I now have space for it. Sigh.



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