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The Declutter Dude is Putting Breathing Room Back in Your Life

The Declutter Dude is Putting Breathing Room Back in Your Life

“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery.”

~Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

Lars2Meet Lars Thurfjell! Originally from Sweden, Lars moved to the U.S. at the age of five, after a short stint in Brazil. He grew up in the Bay area and spent the last 15 years of his life working in the high technology industry, mostly in sales.  Being in Silicon Valley, Lars lived through the exciting dot-com rise, and precipitous fall, seeing fortunes squandered combined with overworked lives in the rush to gain.
He eventually  moved away from the tech industry and founded his own business, Declutter Dude, in a true Life in Focus moment. Declutter Dude is the result of Lars applying the principles in his own life to minimize possessions, and eventually shifting priorities from making as much money as possible, to living as simply as possible.
Lars works with people in their homes to begin decluttering, eliminate the overwhelm of  “where to start”, while making it fun and non-judgmental experience so they can live in a home that brings them peace and calm. Lars is a friend met on my own journey to real Wealth and like all the people featured in Life in Focus is a true example of what can happen when you stop focusing on what’s right and start focusing on what’s right for you.

Breathing room

Stuck, uninspired, don’t know where to begin? I found myself “stuck”, unhappy, stressed, and alone after a divorce in 2010. I honestly didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I had a whole house to myself, was mentally drained from the recent breakup, and had the desire to make something awesome happen with my life… the desire but not the motivation or energy.

How did I get that motivation?

lighterReflexively, I started going through my house and getting rid of things I no longer needed.

I didn’t have a plan, process, goal, or a tangible reason why.

I simply just went through everything, got rid of what I needed, and slowly found myself feeling lighter, more energized, and optimistic. Over a two year period, I rid myself of at least 80% of my possessions.

  • Garage Sales
  • Craigslist
  • Just taking stuff to Goodwill and the Salvation Army.
  • Giving it away to my friends.

It took two years.

Suddenly, new ideas popped into my mind, and possibilities opened up that I couldn’t see before.
Five years in the same house, I wanted to get out. I thought I had no choice other than staying put. It was 2010, shortly after the 2008 financial crisis, my house was 40% underwater (meaning my house value was 40% below the amount of the mortgage).

So I couldn’t sell it at that time.

Fine, I’ll just do something. So I got rid of stuff.
Two years later, after getting rid of 80% of my stuff, I felt so much freer.

Possibilities

I said new ideas popped into my head, and the first big one was, “Hmm, I could move out, and rent this house”

It never occurred to me until then. I had too much “stuff” to worry about. Stuff in the garage. Stuff in the extra room. Stuff in the living room. A kitchen full of stuff. Too much stuff in the house, too much stuff in my mind.

Once that lightened up.. new thoughts flowed to me.
“It wouldn’t be that hard to move out. I don’t need much space”
I’d just need to pack a few things, put an ad out, and rent it.

I knew very little about being a landlord. With my mind free, I studied up on how to be a landlord, how to rent out a house, screening tenants, bought books.
The point here isn’t that decluttering turns you into a landlord.

Far from that.

Decluttering frees your mind, reduces the “overwhelmed” feeling that prevents you from making any big changes in your life.
In the end, I found amazing tenants, moved out, and was free from the burden of being stuck in the house.

I was walking on air.

From weighed down to real Wealth

I spent the next six months pet and house sitting throughout the San Francisco Bay Area while I worked full time.  I felt so untethered and free.

Why did it take me so long to determine I could rent out my house? It’s such a simple concept.
Ok, here’s the truth. It DID occur to me before I started decluttering my life. But I was simply too overwhelmed to take any action on that idea.
Each item, thing, or piece of junk in my house held me down. I couldn’t even fathom doing anything with “all this shit” in my house.
Each item, thing, or piece of junk was one more decision I had to make, whether I knew it or not.
Free your mindEach of those decisions, took up space in my mind.
Each space in my mind that was occupied by an unimportant decision, such as what do I do about my comic book collection that is worth approximately nothing?

Each of those unimportant decisions uses up valuable cognitive energy.
All that used up cognitive energy was needed to focus on the important, big picture stuff in your life.

Even more concepts sunk in.
Why did it feel so great long after I got rid of my unneeded stuff?

I found real wealth in needing less. Eliminating things you don’t need is one thing.
Then I found even more real wealth in WANTING less.  

The stress of trying to catch up to my peers mattered less.  Upgrading to the premium cable package for the content mattered less. A new car mattered less.

A good book, meal, or time with a friend mattered more.

Not only was I saving money, I was happier with what I had, and not feeling deprived one bit.
So when my friends tell me their combined car payments are over $700 a month.
I just smile.
It’s no secret to achieve real wealth.
Opt out of the path of “More more more stuff, better better better stuff”.
Change it to “More fun, better experiences.”

Having a lot of stuff takes up a sizable physical footprint, and a big financial footprint. BOTH those footprints take up valuable energy, stress, and time away from doing something different with your life.

Real wealth became having smaller bills every month. Each thing I cut, was a one less expense compounding my financial and  stress.

Real wealth became freedom.
When I decided to move to  San Francisco, it took 30 minutes to load up the van. This isn’t some tribute to my minimalism, but rather the freedom it gave to me.
Free to move.
Free to save money.
Free to live in a smaller more affordable apartment.
Free to live in San Francisco, where I dreamed of living for decades.

Some people envied me.
No need to.
You can join me on this train of less.

Real wealth is eliminating the desire for more stuff.
Real wealth is the inner calm from not needing to follow the masses and their consumptive ways.
Real Wealth is easily growing financial security without deprivation.
Real Wealth is the joy in books, friends, walking outdoors, experiences.

Declutter your life

Lars Says…

If you’re at home, look around you, grab five nearby items and collect them in a pile. Make sure they’re not related or similar, like five books.

Take each item, and ask yourself, “Do I use this?”

If not, reexamine why you held onto it.  Is it for sentimental reasons? Is it someone else’s?

Whatever the reason, ask what would happen if you got rid of it?

Guess what? It’s not the end of the  world

If you only use one to three out of five items, then you definitely should re-examine your relationship with material possessions.

Do this follow up exercise: Create a clutter drop zone with a box or storage bin. Then every day go through your house and find five things to get rid of.

At the end of the 30 days you’ll have gotten rid of 150 items.

Immediately donate them. I did this and it felt great to see the pile build up.

Strategies:

  1. If you get stuck don’t worry about it. Just get rid of easy stuff such as old receipts, junk mail, old magazines. the process will snowball and grow, getting easier with each item.
  2. Don’t agonize and linger over any one item. it will exhaust you. tIf it’s grandma’s old china, then move onto something else. Like taking a test in college, answer the easy questions first.
  3. Don’t worry if you don’t do it every day.. .just do ten or fifteen items if you skip a day or two.
  4. HAVE FUN.

Purpose:

This won’t declutter your home in thirty days, but it will be a springboard for examining your relationship with “stuff”. You might start asking yourself ‘Do I really want this?” when shopping. You might realize “Wow, I really keep stockpiling similar items”

Want some help with your clutter?

You can find out more about Lars and Declutter Dude right at DeclutterDude.com.

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Hi! I'm Dr. Alessandra Wall

I help smart driven women and forward-thinking companies bridge the gap & build real conversations.

Here on the ‘Dr. Wall Says’, I share tools, tips, and insights about speaking up, getting heard and how women can take up space and thrive in the 21st century.

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