Living the Edited Life

One of the guiding principles that my wife, Linda, and I have used on our journey of simplicity is an adapted version of the Pareto Principle, more widely known as the 80/20 Rule, which for our purposes simply states that 80% of stuff is used 20% of the time and 20% of stuff is used 80% of the time. The goal for us is to get our stuff down to the 20% that we use 80% of the time, and we are basically at that point in the process.

Our rule of thumb for the last several months has been that if we haven’t used an item lately and/or don’t plan to use it then we give it away, either to someone we know or to a charitable organization. We have sold very few items, other than our furniture once we sold our house, simply due to the logistics of selling such as packing and shipping, etc. Besides, we’ve realized the benefits of sowing and reaping in each of our lives.

As Graham Hill said, “Editing is the skill of this century: editing space, media consumption, [even] friends.” That last one may strike some as controversial but the older I get the more I realize that we do indeed outgrow some relationships and that is okay. It doesn’t mean that we no longer like certain people; it simply means that a person may be part of our lives for a season. To that end, Linda and I recently went through our collection of paper photographs [as opposed to digital ones] and culled them accordingly.

What I’ve found is that the same skill needed to be an effective editor of words, which is my livelihood, also plays a part in paring life down to its essentials. Whether it involves limiting space, media or relationships, living the edited life means being selective about the space one inhabits, what media one consumes and yes, even the people one spends time with. The Pareto Principle is applicable across the board so it helps to deal with whatever it is that hinders us from realizing our full potential.