In preparation for New Year’s, I followed the old Scottish tradition of cleaning out the house (next New Year’s for me: Hogmanay!). This did not follow my usual discardia formula of starting in a room and working clockwise through it, which I first found in The Procrastinator’s Handbook by Rita Emmett. Instead, it was more like this article I found helpful to reframe my habit of doing house work instead of going straight to my desk (visit the link, and Ctrl-F “cleaning a closet”). Also, I had guests coming, so the house needed to be orderly and clean. I didn’t want anything stagnant rolling me over into 2013.

One such issue in getting organized is known as the Endowment Effect. Having something in your possession makes it seem more valuable than if you did not have it but were faced with purchasing it. This is one thorny issue for a lot of people: if it is worth something, has a use, and/or would be wasteful to throw out, it becomes hard to just get rid of it.

Learning about the endowment effect fixed that problem for me. Unless I can realistically plan using it myself or put it in an unobtrusive place for when it will be called upon, the decision is made. I can really easily put things out by selling them cheap (my old books for sale on Amazon), giving them away in a targeted way, or returning them to the materials stream (recycling).

Aimee Mann gets a lot further than my explanation in much less time:

There’s no use in cluttering anything up. I try to keep only the things I use, the things I love, and the things that make others feel like beauty is a value (after all, a dingy apartment can still contain only useful, loved things). A basic competency in living is keeping your space tidy and organized as the day passes – simply by knowing where the best place is to keep something, and to routinely put it there as soon as you are done using it. Try to review the usefulness of your things in an unbiased way; this helps you rid your attachment to a lot of stuff.

While I was getting stuff out of here at my leisure, there was a Christmas tree that someone else put across the street into a snow bank over the weekend. I did not move myself from my comfortable place, and instead planned on getting it when I put out my garbage on Monday morning. And then I got all distracted and the truck came by before I got it. My tardiness frustrates me. But why would I want someone’s old Christmas tree? Because they stay green over the winter, and they are delightful habitat for my birds. Here’s what I mean; this tree is by the McLennan Library at McGill, where someone casts seed for the pigeons and sparrows. Look among the branches:


In the end, the first acquisition of the New Year is new technology, surprise surprise. On the advice of the guy at the inkjet refilling station, I’ve retired my really old printer and got a Brother printer/scanner/copier/fax. This is a huge step up. It sits on top of my rolling file cabinet and it will indeed help me work.

To compensate for a potentially boring blog post, these pictures are here just for you – because we all love cute rabbit pictures. And Elizabeth loves getting what she wants.