Careful What You Delete!

by Andy Wood on January 11, 2016

in Enlarging Your Capacity, Five LV Laws, Hoarders, Insight, Life Currency, LV Alter-egos, LV Cycle, LV Stories, Money, Principle of Increase, Time

delete-ruthlessly

I’m not a hoarder. Really. But I do accumulate. A lot. And that applies to just about every zone of my world.

Quick check:

  • There are currently 15,993 email messages in my inbox. But that’s OK – only 7,108 of them are unread.
  • When my next-door neighbor moved out a couple of months ago, she had a whole bunch of pretty good stuff she was literally giving away – said take anything I wanted. So I did. Now it’s all in my garage, and one day I’ll get around to figuring out what all I got.
  • Right now I’m wearing a t-shirt I got in 2003. It’s still hole-less and relatively stainless, so it stays in the rotation, which now occupies two big drawers because one wouldn’t hold them.
  • Oh, and books. Way back in the day I kept up with exactly how many I had. Suffice it to say, I lost count. Now, counting ebooks, I have three libraries in three locations. And one of my New Year’s resolutions, if I had any (which I don’t) is to actually try to read some of them.
  • I have a to-do list that’s as long as your arm, but if you asked me to do something, I would most likely say yes if it were in my capacity to do it.

I could go on, but I fear that some of you who are really organized or efficient are starting to get hives, and I don’t want to cause you to stumble.

The point to all this is that I have a huge “front door” when it comes to gathering up things to do, be, and have and a naturally disorganized, balls-in-the-air approach to managing all of it.

Until I have to. Last week I had to.

Saturation Points

Regardless of what is passing through your life – things, people, responsibilities, dreams, whatever – if your “front door” is bigger than your “back door” or your “storage capacity” you will eventually reach a point of saturation.

Let’s use books as a metaphor for all the things that can take up our time, money, space, and energy. Once you get a certain number of books and your shelves are full, you have some choices to make.

  • You can get rid of books you don’t want to keep in order to make room for more.
  • You can get more bookshelves and increase your storage capacity.
  • You can start sticking books in places where books don’t go, like the floor or your kid’s toy box.

But at some point saturation (and hopefully some sanity) kicks in, and it’s time to get serious.

It’s time to hit the delete button. And that’s what I did.

Strategic vs. Impulsive Deleting

Last week my computer – I think #19 in a series dates back to 1984 – started telling me that I was out of hard drive space. (And yes, I have file content that dates back to then.)

Oh bother.

Well I’m definitely not in the market for a new machine, but I did price what a new hard drive would cost. Passed on that idea, too.

So it was time to get serious, and serious I got. More than 12 thousand pictures relocated. Lots of old downloads that are now useless.

Still, my machine was saying I was out of hard drive space. It didn’t make sense, but whatever. Send stuff to the trash, empty the trash. Send more to the trash, empty the trash.

Until I sent the wrong thing to the trash.

Something called Windows or some thingy like that.

Hello, tech support? It’s me again, Margaret.

The good news is that now I have LOTS of hard drive space. And lots of opportunities for learning life lessons and character building.

The bad news is that I’ve been spending a week and counting in computer purgatory.

A Few Life Lessons

As long as we’re above ground this side of Heaven, we will live with limitations. Those limitations have a way of forcing us to prioritize, to stretch, and to grow. The force us (well, some of us) to embrace discipline as a form of wisdom.

In practical terms, if you tend to accumulate monkeys on your back in the form of new goals, new responsibilities, more “stuff” or more commitments, sooner or later you’re going to have to eliminate some monkeys. It’s the whole idea of carving out capacity, which I mentioned as part of the last post on renewal.

If all this sounds like maintenance, that’s because it is. And maintenance is boring. But better to be boring and wise than excited and stupid.

The key is learning to be wise in what to let go of. Some people do with their larger lives what I did with my computer storage – they eliminate important parts of their “operating system” in order to operate better. If that sounds crazy, that’s because it is. But urgency and a sense of constant emergency can lead us to do some crazy things…

  • I don’t have time to spend in prayer and meditation.
  • I’m done with relationships – they’re too messy, painful, frustrating.
  • I’ve got to lose weight so I just won’t eat anything (good luck with that).

So before you relegate a part of your life to the trash bin, ask this question, put in computer language: Is this part of my system or part of my data?

System items are things we can’t live or function well without. Nutrition. Rest. Exercise. Relationships. Meaning. Purpose. Enough money. Above all, God. Sure, sometimes systems need some realignment or refinement. But at their core you can’t survive without them for very long.

Data is the stuff that accumulates. There will always be useful and useless data, and more data tomorrow to take the place of today’s. Data in this context also means the ways we can waste time and money or get bogged down trying to manage stuff that just doesn’t matter.

It’s always better to delete unnecessary “data” when things aren’t urgent. So what do you need to “edit out” or “send to backup” in your life in order to increase your capacity?

Careful with that “delete” button. It’s like a loaded weapon. But do have the courage to use it… before the demands and duties and possessions and responsibilities and commitments all start “deleting” you.

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