The Quest for Less #1: CHAOS

One of the side effects of having too much stuff is the fact that you seem to constantly lose things. Or is that a side effect of simply being disorganized? In any case, disorganization is directly linked to the amount of stuff you own, and here’s my case for why having less will make a happier you.

This, however, isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do in a society that’s become so stuff-centric. You are nothing without stuff. Your personality, worth and mantra for life are the direct correlation of the total sum of stuff you own. I think the equation goes a little like this:

An equation for the true value of the stuff you own: The sum of all the things you own * The sum of the monetary value of those items - the cost of the items being used all divided by the number of people who use your stuff.

You are categorized by the stuff you own. Slotted into certain social circles. Provided certain opportunities in life. So much is based upon what’s in your closet, on your counter, the car you drive and the TV your own. One wayward decision and you could be altering the tone of your life completely, an unknowing victim to the social ebbs and flows of life!

There’s a little problem with this, though. Especially in cities.

  • We have a huge “gimme, gimme” mentality where we feel a sense of false entitlement to own everything that our hearts desire
  • We tend to have more stuff than we ever need
  • A disproportionate amount of people on the Earth live in cities, with the number growing annually

So what happens more often than not is that we end up hoarding stuff, and then don’t get around to dealing with the stuff we have since we spend more time trying to obtain the next item(s) on our lists. At the same time, we have a finite amount of space in which we can store our stuff, constantly trying to discover new ways to rearrange our living spaces in order to store more stuff. With this vicious cycle, we actually vastly reduce the physical amount of living space we have, which—if you think about it—can lead to all sorts of feelings of anxiety and claustrophobia due to living in what has effectively become a gradually shrinking space to live in!

To my fellow city-dwellers—aren’t you tired of living this way? I know I am. Cities move slower than they used to since you need to ferry such massive populations through them. So since it takes longer to do things, one has less time to do the things that they enjoy. More stuff, less space, less time, more stress.

I don’t think we’re at the point where we’ve resigned ourselves to live in a material dystopia—we can still counter this. In fact, by reviewing and reorganizing the things you have to your name, you may find ways to regain the peace that has been slipping out of your grasp.

There are different ways to go about sorting your stuff. In fact, in this department, Sarah and I are opposites.

This may sound like a recipe for marriage disaster, but hear me out. While our views and principles are largely the same, our personalities are quite different from each other.

Where she prefers to test the pool of new things by dipping a toe in the water, I dive right in without any concern for the consequences

Where she likes to plan before she executes, I prefer to just do crap and scribble out the steps of how I did it after for later reference.

And when it comes to organization, we both strive for the same thing, but in very different ways.

“A place for everything, and everything in its place.”

What we’re both trying to achieve is a state of entropy. I haven’t used the word for a very long time, but I remember that my high school chemistry and physics classes taught me that entropy is the state of order in the universe. Everything fitting together in a neat and tidy order. Sarah’s closer to the approach that things arrive in a state of entropy and become more disorganized over time—things need to be cleaned to restore them to their original splendour; things start off in the “right” way and should be returned to that when you’re done with them; etc.

I, on the other hand, think that everything’s all connected in some way—it just takes a while to have enough knowledge to make the connections.

Maybe it’s that thinking that had me hold on to random objects for so long rather than toss them aside to simplify things, but this too ends well. There are so many tools and methods out there today that can make your life far easier than ever before if you want to reduce your physical footprint on the world; I’ll discuss this more thoroughly tomorrow, but examples include:

  • Subscribing to digital versions of magazines and newspapers
  • Organizational apps and programs for a variety of platforms
  • Numerous online venues to get rid of stuff you no longer use
  • NOT buying in bulk if you don’t have enough people in your household to sustain the consumption of bulk items
  • Doing routine reviews to see what you actually use in your household
  • Making a focused effort to use up what you have before buying new items

All is not lost, my friends. But you can tell your stuff to get lost, but let’s take it all a step at a time. So get some old clothes on, because tomorrow, we’re putting you to a bit of work!

Until then,

The second logo for Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad


By Casey E. Palmer

Husband. Father. Storyteller. Calling the Great White North his home, Casey Palmer the Canadian Dad spend his free time in pursuit of the greatest content possible. Thousand-word blog posts? Snapshots from life? Sketches and podcasts and more—he's more than just a dad blogger; he's working to change what's expected of the parenting creators of the world. It's about so much more than just our kids. When Casey's not creating, he's busy parenting, adventuring, trying to be a good husband and making the most of his life! Casey lives in Toronto, Ontario.


  1. my problem is i have such a diverse personality. i have clothes and shoes for whatever mood i may be in. i have art supplies for almost every medium. books for school, for reading and just to laugh at every time i look at them. i also am one of those people who is conscious of the environment, but get stuck in the issue of not knowing the proper place to dispose of cell phones and batteries and the like, so they start to pile up. i also have things like sewing machines, knitting machines and other things that are still very useful, if i ever got around to using them.

    i went the entire month of October without buying a single brand new thing… including going to sally anne to get my halloween costume.

    BUT, i still have too much.

    there comes a time when you just have to realize its the mentality that must be fight… and when you have won that battle and you still have too much stuff, theres nothing you can do by fine places to store it and hope you become a more boring person.

  2. LOL. That’s an interesting conclusion 🙂 I totally see where you’re coming from, but I only agree with part of that!

    It’s totally a mind over matter situation, like you said. If you convince yourself that you need to have items for just about every situation, then you’ll definitely hang onto just about everything that comes your way.

    But how much time do you make for art? For making clothes? We don’t have time to do absolutely everything, and we need to get to a point where we realistically look at what we actually want to do with our days.

    Even now, in the area around me, I’m looking at all these documents and whatnot, and sorting out time in my head to really just read, scan and make use of it all, or send it in the recycling, where it ultimately belongs.

    I think getting to a point where the clutter is gone involves asking yourself many hard questions daily, and then you’ll get to a point where you’ll figure out what you’re all about and what you REALLY need to supplement your existence 🙂

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