Beyond the Rut Podcast

Declutter Your Mind with These Lessons from Ultralight Backpacking

February 6, 201913 min
Brandon and Jerry share lessons learned from ultralight backpacking on how to declutter your mind.
"You don't have yesterday anymore. You have today. So, what are you going to do with it?" - Jerry
Lessons from Ultralight Backpacking to Declutter Your Mind
What is Ultralight Backpacking
Many long-trail hikers, like those who hike the Appalachian Trail, enjoy going “ultralight.” To be considered an ultralight backpacker, one’s gear “base weight” (food, water, and cooking fuel are not included) is under ten pounds. The idea behind going ultralight is about carrying the lightest load possible to be able to hike as farther and faster than those who don a traditional pack that weighs two to three times more.

It is a hiking philosophy that focuses on carrying only what you need and carrying items that perform a variety of functions. Every ounce of gear matters.
"We tend to pack our fears."

Get Rid of Your Stuff Declutter Your Life
Jerry loves to travel light in the first place. You will rarely find him taking more than a backpack for a three to four-day trip, and that includes both his clothing and what he needs for work. This allows him to travel faster. There is no need for checking baggage. No time is spent at the baggage claim. There is less stress because there is less stuff to think about.

Coworkers were even more amazed in 2018 when Jerry traveled to his company’s headquarters with plans to camp during that trip and still be presentable at work. As a result of traveling light, he was able to enjoy one night under the stars with a lake view. He woke up watching a lightning storm in the distance. Less was more. Because he took the time to gain confidence in having less with him, he was able to enjoy more with what he had around him.

When you get rid of your stuff you declutter your life, you declutter your mind. Research shows that stores that offer less variety make more sales of their products than stores that offer a wide variety of options. That seems odd for a society that prides itself on being unique and enjoying choices. Apparently, too many choices are too much on the mind. Maybe that is why animals travel in herds or packs. Too many choices clutter the minds of predators.
How to Declutter Your Life
It is possible to apply concepts of ultralight backpacking to declutter multiple areas of your life.
Declutter Your Life in One Week
Take yourself through this “Declutter Your Life Checklist” through the next week, and see what it does for you.

There are just a few questions to ask yourself as you go through this process.

Have I actually used this in the last two to three years? No? Get rid of it.
Am I holding onto this “just in case?” Yes? Get rid of it unless it is a safety item like a fire extinguisher, emergency kits (hurricane, snow storm, etc.)
Does this item really bring value to my life? This one is trickier. A better way to ask it is does it enhance your life or it is a burden to keep it? Toss it if it is a burden.

First, declutter a room in 30 minutes.
Jerry applied going ultralight to his closet and bedroom first. Well, as much as his wife would allow anyway. He wound up getting rid of more than half his clothes. He did this for books and other items around his room. Mrs. Dugan was pleased afterward because it freed up a lot of space for what she wanted to do with the room. Win-win right there!
Second, repeat that process room-by-room in the house.
You’ll probably have the most items tucked away in your garage. When Jerry did this to his garage, he was amazed hat just about everything could go. His family was holding onto broken toys, broken bicycles they never ride, and items for a future garage sale. The funny thing is they don’t do garage sales!
Third, apply this process to activities in your life.
You may feel like you are stuck in a rut because there is little leisure time. You’re simply bouncing from one activity to the next.

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