Stuff Management

Our society has an obsession with stuff.

Some say it’s caused by a scarcity mentality- we never feel like we have enough, so we’re on a boundless pursuit of more. The blog Intentional Workplace sums it up nicely:

While humans have always measured their well-being by their neighbors’ – our neighbors are now the world. We make comparisons of our worth and neediness to skewed representations presented on social media and a 24/7 news media industry financed by interests vested in stimulating continuous material consumption.

Living in the scarcity model, we often find ourselves living in the in-between.

We’re here, but we want to be there. The benchmark for our arrival there is often elusive – sometimes permanently. The scarcity assumption is built on two contradictory ideas; there’s not enough of what I want to go around and there’s more out there that I want but I don’t have it.

Although it may not seem like it, all the physical resources we consume are finite. There won’t always be “more out there”. There will come a day when actual resource scarcity, not just mental scarcity, is reflected in the price we pay for our stuff. That day is coming sooner than later, and for some things we buy it already has.

I think it’s ironic how this “there more out there I want” feeling ends up consuming so much of our most finite resource, time. Here are 10 ways our stuff ends up taking our time:

  1. Thinking and wanting new stuff
  2. Shopping for new stuff
  3. Organizing, storing, and rearranging our stuff
  4. Cleaning our stuff
  5. Purchasing insurance and dealing with damage to our stuff
  6. Moving our stuff
  7. Maintaining and fixing our stuff
  8. Protecting our stuff
  9. Getting rid of our stuff
  10. Working more to pay for the stuff we buy but can’t really afford

When the market seemingly places no constraints on consumption, I find it helpful to think of how much time each purchase will end up costing me. Then, each purchase seems a lot more expensive than the price tag.