When I was young my mother always asked me to clean up my room. I'ts quite funny that now I asked her to clean up her home.

My mother is a true collector of things. She loves having all kinds of 'prul' and 'praal'. Anything that looks nice, she has to have it. When I was younger I was the same. But after my travels of seven months in Nepal and South East Asia, I learned something important.

  1. Don't collect things, collect memories.
  2. Things will make you less flexible and can slow you down
  3. Things cost time and bring stress and chaos. Simplicity gives you time and peace of mind.
  4. Things you own will shape what you do and will ultimately shape you.
  5. Digitizing can remove physical stuff from your life, but you can still keep it.

After coming back to the Netherlands I choose to live at my mothers' place for a short period. In that time, I helped her by applying some of the things I learned and knew. I helped her with Digital Marketing her business, better WiFi service for her customers, and cleaning up the second living room.

7 Steps

Let's continue about cleaning up. I identified 7 steps to apply the 5 things I learned while traveling in Asia.

  • Step 1: Choose a style
  • Step 2: Chaos
  • Step 3: Transparency (Know what you have)
  • Step 4: Categorize on utility, activity and past/present/future
  • Step 5: Digitize the digitizable
  • Step 6: Use, throw away & share
  • Step 7: Make it epic & live

1 - Choose a style

Start by throwing away some big closets that don't fit. My mother has chosen to get rid of the metal style in her home. We threw away two big metal closets. Of course, this generated chaos because we didn't yet throw away any stuff.

We got rid of two metal closets because they didn't fit into the style we chose: natural elements. The style has lots of wood, stone, light and as little as possible of plastic, metal, and technology.

2 - Chaos

After throwing out some metal closets, it became quite full and messy. This is how it looked.

3 - Transparency (Know what you have)

When I was in Asia, I totally forgot what I had in the Netherlands and this proves an important fact. You forget things you don't see, feel, think about, or use.

Similarly, when you put something away in closets, it can happen that you forget that you own it because you don't use it.

To solve this problem we have to stop distancing ourselves from our stuff. Open up all drawers and take it out. Drown in it. Rub it in your face like a birthday cake.

Cake in your face


Creating transparency...

4 - Categorize on utility, activity and past/present future

Think fundamentally about what you actually need and how much of it is necessary to own.

Sharing is caring.

Past stuff has sentimental value but no utility.

Future stuff should've been bought in the future.

Only your present stuff has utility.

Don't create a mess of your stuff. Keep food in the kitchen, work in your office, love in your bed, and chill in the living room.

5 - Digitize the digitizable

Digital stuff is small. Physical stuff is heavy and big. Get rid of it. Remove books and administration from your life and replace them by digital variants.

6 - Use, throw away & share

Now it's time to actually get rid of your excess of stuff. But it's shame if you would just throw everything away.

Look for possibilities to share and use your abundance of things. Eat food, give nice abundant things away. Throw away the rest.

7 - Make it epic & live.

Now you end up with almost nothing. Feel free. Live your life more clean and simple, and focus on the real value of life: collect experiences and let them teach you how to grow.

Wanna see how it ended up at my mothers place? Tell me to motivate me to make some pictures of the stunning results!