I live in a small San Francisco studio, which based on my apartment-lusting seems to be double the size of a NYC studio and about half the size of a studio anywhere else in the US.
I am also an unapologetic cosmetics whore. I’ve got the biggest collection of lotions, potions, eyeshadows, lip glosses, and nail polishes you’ve ever seen outside a Sephora.
Over the years, I’ve learned to ruthlessly purge. When space is a commodity, you learn to get rid of the things that no longer serve you.
Don’t know what it is? Throw it out. If it was important, you’d have some idea what it was for.
Holding on to conference swag that you’ve never used but can’t seem to get rid of because…well, it was free. Ditch it. There will be more next year.
Clothes you don’t wear but can’t bring yourself to get rid of? Donate it and accept that no one’s ass looks good in harem pants.
Purging yourself of ‘stuff’ gives you the freedom to eliminate things that you’re holding onto for no good reason and find pleasure in the small number of amazing things that you truly love.
Sometimes you even have to purge people from your life.
Have you taken a good look at your Facebook friends lately? Are there people you haven’t spoken to or interacted with in 2 years? Friends whose updates you hate to see show up in your News Feed? Delete them and move on.
Obviously, this isn’t for Facebook Pages, your corporate/brand page, or LinkedIn; but for social interactions where the quality of close connections is more important than the number of shallow connections, don’t be afraid to release those people who don’t bring you any value.
In order to purge effectively, you have to constantly be in the habit of re-evaluating your needs. The things you needed 6 months ago are probably not the same things you need today or 6 months from now. The people who were big influences in your life 5 years ago might not be the ones who add value today.
Professional purging is the most rewarding and the most difficult.
Business and professional relationships are usually tied to money, making them especially scary to purge. Purging these areas can affect how you’re able to provide for your family or how you see your own value projected in the eyes of your friends, family and peers. But purging your professional life is the one most likely to open yourself up to new opportunities.
Is it time to leave your current job and find something new? Have you stopped learning and developing professionally in your current position? Are you being paid what you’re worth? Should you be working on a startup of your own? Evaluate whether the job you have is the job that you should have. If it is, great…keep rocking. If not, plan your way out.
Are you holding onto processes that no longer work for you? Don’t keep doing something the same way just because it’s the way you’ve always done it. Continuously hack your processes to gain more efficiency.
Has a business partnership run its course? You may have joint venture partners that worked when you were a young company, but now that your product has matured, don’t make financial sense. When the partnership benefits start to seem egregiously lopsided, it’s time to evaluate and renegotiate or end it diplomatically before it poisons the relationship.
Now is the best time in history to purge. Collective ownership and peer-to-peer sharing have made it easy to eliminate things that are an economic and lifestyle drain. Get rid of your car and use Zipcar or Get Around. After you clean out your closet and need something to wear to your friend’s wedding, skip the boutique and borrow it from Rent the Runway. Parents can decrease the number of outgrown clothes and discarded toys with ThredUP and Baby Plays.
With Amazon Web Services and Codeacademy and even WordPress, the tools to start your own business have never been more readily accessible. There are more active startups and solopreneurs today than at any other time.
Deciding who your friends are going to be? That’s free.
But the cost of not purging is clutter and having so many old things in your way that you can’t find room for the new things that could be coming. You have to be fearless in eliminating the things that keep you from welcoming new experiences, new people and more quality into your life.
Old broken stuff vs. new hotness? I’ll take the new hotness.
Start purging and get clear.