Retirement – Decluttering My Life

I am getting ready for retirement. It will happen in a month. It really hasn’t hit me yet- but I know I will soon no longer have an office to go to everyday or an office in which to store things. In fact , looking around my office I realize I have files, books and even documents going back 40 years…spanning my career. In essence, clutter.

I am in the process of decluttering my house. My wife and I decided this time around (we have moved six or seven times in the course of our marriage) to do our best to throw out clutter. To go minimalistic if we can. What is clutter you might ask? I think it is stuff that is no longer relevant. Stuff that won’t be used or appreciated. Stuff that will take up space but that we really no longer need in our daily lives. Take clothes for instance. Many of us buy clothes because they are on sale. They are so cheap we have to buy them. We use them once, put them in a closet and then never wear them again. The clothes are irrelevant. We don’t wear them. In fact- we don’t even look at them. They get buried amongst other clothes or pushed into the back of the closet or clothes chest…never to see the light of day. They have become stuff or clutter.

I’ve read from several retirement experts that you should start going through your stuff a good 1-2 years before you retire. It may take that long to get rid of the clutter that has built up in your home. But what about your office? Have you considered that most of the books in your office might be obsolete? Your old documents may be irrelevant. You may have packed your office over time with clutter. Even though you are not up for retirement it still might be worthwhile to take a good look at your office. How many name cards to you have of people you will never call or email? Cards tend to build up over time, especially if you go to networking events. I’ve found over the last few years that most networking events only result in a few good contacts. But the name cards pile up.

Thinking about clutter, I think many organizations allow clutter to build up as well. How many corporate processes, compliance or risk management processes clutter up the organization that have become obsolete or irrelevant? How many documents are in the corporate database that are never used? What about data? Does IT know where all the data is and whether the data is relevant? Are there procedures in place to remove data that has become irrelevant? Maybe it is time your organization declutter itself. Look at your corporate subscriptions to third party reports, memberships, newsletters and magazines. Are they cluttering up your organization? Do you really need a membership to an organization that has become irrelevant to your business? Has your business model changed? If so, many of your processes and documents may indeed be clutter. Time to review your risk management processes.

I am going to continue to review my files. Some I will keep but most are no longer relevant now I am retiring. In fact, looking at most of my old files, books and other belongings I realize they were always just stuff. Time to declutter my office.

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