May 6, 2021

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Scot: All right. It's time for the check-in, the "Who Cares About Men's Health" Declutter Your Life, Fix Your Mental Health check-in. It's a challenge to get rid of some clutter. The premise is that your clutter can cause mental anguish, whether it's that you look at it and you go, "Oh, that used to be me," or that clutter represents stuff you didn't get done, or if you look at it, and you just can't stand clutter.

We started out with Troy being a little apprehensive, but he really came on strong in week number two. I was pretty gung ho to begin with, and we're going to find out how I did. And Mitch is taking a very systematic approach to what he's getting rid of. So let's check in with Mitch first and find out what was this week . . . this week was clothes, or was that last week?

Mitch: Clothes was last week. So this week I've been getting my partner involved, and he's been hesitant about one thing or another. But we've been talking through it. He's been seeing what I've been doing, and he's participating. And so what I've brought in today is we've been getting rid of those good boxes that seemed to take up all of our shelves, right? I brought these boxes in, in particular because every time it's like, "Oh, well, I'll keep that one special box. It's a really nice box. That's a box we should keep." This is for a little 3D camera attachment, and the box literally only holds that one device, right?

Scot: You can't take that little insert out and turn it into a regular box?

Mitch: No, it's built into the box, so what are . . .

Troy: It's still a nice box, though.

Mitch: Thank you. I understand. But that's the same thing here.

Scot: This is a recent trend. Yeah, this nice box thing is kind of a recent trend, right? When Troy and I were kids, there was no such thing as a nice box and a not nice box. Stuff came in boxes, and you got rid of the boxes and kept the stuff. Now sometimes the boxes can stay on your shelf longer than you own the stuff.

Mitch: Right. And that's just it. Here is a fancy pen that he got two, three years ago. Cannot find the pen. It's got a nice felt . . . look at how nice that is. Wow.

Scot: Oh, it's a little pen bed.

Mitch: We had a whole shelf worth. It was a whole trash bag worth of boxes that we just got rid of and it's just . . .

Scot: How does that make you feel, Mitch, getting rid of those nice boxes?

Mitch: For me, it feels fantastic because it's like, "Here's one for our little Roomba that we have. Why do we have this gigantic Roomba box? Well, what if we move and need to put the Roomba back in the box?" And it's like, "Okay . . ."

Scot: So it makes you feel great. Did you run into any problems getting rid of these boxes? What was the attachment that Jonathan has?

Mitch: So it 100% is that this could have a use. And so we had that conversation that I've been having with myself when I went through all my tech stuff, which is probably what we'll talk about next week. But when was the last time I needed this one specialty cord? I'm holding on to it for technology that doesn't even exist anymore. But there's this idea of potential.

And so by talking about, "Hey, you have all this camping stuff that you use regularly and you have a hard time putting it places and it's sticking out. What if we were to get rid of all these boxes and then you have a place for the stuff you do use today?" And that was really the conversation that happened.

It's night and day. Suddenly, he has a little workout room in the back that now has more space. So it's great. It's absolutely great. There was a bit of picking up each box and being like, "When are you going to use this?" It was good, though. It was good.

Troy: Yeah, at one point, we had a closet beneath our stairs that you couldn't even enter because it had so many empty boxes in it. It was that same idea, like, "Well, we might use these someday. Storage. Gifts." And then it gets to a point it's just like, "We're not using these." I'm sure everyone's got that somewhere in their house, the nice boxes or just even large boxes that could come in handy at some point.

Scot: I'm going to go next. Is that all right, Troy?

Troy: Please.

Scot: All right. So I'm a little disappointed in myself, but I'm going to take advice from what we've talked about on this podcast before. If I could sum up how well I've done at this challenge over the past couple of weeks in a sound, this would be the sound. Yeah, it hasn't been pretty. I haven't done well.

But what I'm going to do is I'm going to take the advice that we give ourselves in making any sort of change that sometimes you have to be kind to yourself, right?

Why am I not doing well? Is it because I'm actually not doing well, or is it because of the expectations I set? Because at the beginning, I was going to follow the pattern of one thing on the first day, two things on the second day, three things on the third day, four things on the fourth day, and so on.

Troy: Let me correct you, Scot. That's not the pattern you were going to follow.

Scot: Well, no.

Troy: You did a huge number of items that first week. You were at like 200. We did straighten that out, but you had like 200 items in the first week.

Scot: Yeah, I did. So I mean, the first week was kind of okay, but I literally, for the past two weeks, have done nothing. Although I did make a promise last check-in that I was going to list this stuff on eBay, some of my tech that I thought I could actually get some money for. This might be $300, $400 here, this laptop. You'll notice they're in boxes now, and they've got the packing material. And I weighed them because selling stuff on eBay is a freaking process and a half. I measured the boxes so I can put that in, and I wrote the descriptions and I took the pictures and they are now listed on eBay. So I have three things that I'm selling on eBay. I guess that's progress.

I'm just going to be kind to myself and say, "Hey, you know what? It wasn't the expectation that you had, but yet you're making progress." This is some pretty big progress, I think. Even though it's not quantity, it's quality. Normally, I don't like to sell stuff because there's definitely a lot more activation energy and a lot more that you have to do to make that happen, but for $100 here and $300 there and maybe $80 there, it's worth it. So I have made a little progress in that respect.

Mitch: Well, something I wanted to say really quick is there is a program nationwide in every state and they take old tech and donate it to in-need schools for their tech programs and their learning things. So if you have old tech, old phones, old whatever, they actually use them in the tech labs of these at-need, at-risk schools.

Scot: Cool.

Mitch: And so I just thought that was . . . for me, I'm not going to list this 10-year-old iMac, but it's a place where I could give it. I don't have to pay that recycling fee, and I know that it's going on to help someone out.

Scot: And by the way, I took a couple of old phones to Best Buy. This is not an endorsement of any particular business, but when I did, they actually take a lot of electronic stuff for free. So yeah, look into them. I was really surprised as much stuff as they took for free.

Troy, how are you doing?

Troy: Doing well. So this week was clothing for me, and I thought I was doing pretty well with clothing because I'd done a big purge like a year ago, but once again, it's those things.

And it's funny. I don't want to sound like a jerk saying this, but I have a lot of what I was referring to as my fat clothes. These were suits and nice clothing items, like really nice clothing items that just do not fit me anymore. And again, I can't say I was fat. We talked about the whole BMI episode, but I did fall into the overweight category and this was about five, six years ago. And I kept thinking, "Well, what if I put the weight back on? I've got to keep this stuff around." But at this point, I'm just like, "Hey, I'm not using this stuff," and so I got rid of it. So I unloaded a couple of really nice suits that I just am like, "They don't fit."

It's funny because with Laura, my wife, they had a family photo like two years ago and I had not worn a particular suit. They wanted everyone to wear a grey color, so I pulled out this grey suit and I put it on and I looked like a child wearing his father's clothes playing dress-up or something. It was embarrassing. I didn't even do it until the day of, so that's what I wore to the photo but.

Anyway, I unloaded this stuff. That was my big project of the week, trying to unload clothing, stuff that just doesn't fit, stuff I haven't worn. And again, it was that same process of saying, "Hey, I haven't used this. I don't expect I'm going to use this anytime soon. There's no reason to hold on to it."

Scot: With those nice suits, it can be tough, though, right?

Troy: It is. I mean, it's one thing to get rid of an old shirt or something, an old T-shirt, but it's quite another thing when it's a really nice suit that at some point you paid several hundred dollars for. It's like, "Well, this is a great suit. I can't get rid of it." But again, if you're not wearing it, if it doesn't fit, no reason to keep it.

Scot: Yeah. I wonder how that will play into your . . . I mean, it's also good to get rid of it because then if you do start putting weight back on, then you have to . . . It's like a good punishment. "You're going to have to go out and buy a fat suit now."

Troy: That's exactly right. And that's kind of the thought I had, like, "Well, do I really want to have this there in case I put 20 pounds back on?" Then I'm like, "Well, I can't put 20 pounds on. It's going to cost me several hundred dollars to go buy more clothing." So you don't want to keep that there, I guess, with that in mind.

Scot: All right. So next week, guys, what are you working on next week? Let's go to Troy first.

Troy: Scot, I have saved the worst for last, and it is the garage. It's the place we all dread. It's like the final resting place for everything before it finally makes it to the trash or to a thrift shop.

So here's the challenge. This is why this is grand finale. It's like the perfect storm of items. It's, number one, items I might use someday, and there's a good chance of that. Number two, there's the sentimental value. My grandfather passed away years ago, and at the time he passed away, my grandmother gave me all his old tools or a lot of his old tools. I have these containers of screws and nuts and bolts he had collected over the years too that he thought he would use someday. So it's the perfect store of sentimental value, things I might use someday. So this is going to be a challenge.

Scot: Mitch, what's next week look like for you?

Mitch: I'm going to get a little out of the box. I'm going to be doing a digital cleanup. In all the years, I have . . .

Scot: Digital decluttering.

Mitch: I'm up to 12 terabytes in my life and I need to get that shrunk down. And so in cleaning everything up, I found all the SD cards, I found all of the little USB drives that I've gotten over the years, and I downloaded a program, I bought a program that's going to find duplicates, etc.

I don't know where all my projects are. I have a lifetime worth of work, and I can't tell you which files and where they are. So I'm going to get a little outside of the box because we have a small apartment, we've done most of that cleaning stuff, and I'm going to focus on my digital life.

Scot: I love digital decluttering. I have Evernote that just is a mess. It stresses me out thinking about all the stuff that's in there just like you said. And digital, it can be so out of sight, out of mind.

Mitch: It's a little black box that has bajillions of things in there, and I have no idea where anything is. So I'm going to find all the duplicates and make an organization system and see if I can't shrink it down a bit.

Scot: I like it. If I was to describe my strategy in audio terms next week, this would be it. I don't know what my strategy is next week.

Troy: That sounded a lot like your description of your success so far. It sounds fairly pessimistic.

Scot: I don't know what my strategy is. Troy, I'm thinking of the garage as well. I did a garage purge two or three years ago when we moved, but I want to get in there and insulate and drywall and then put up some storage.

So even though maybe I'm not going to accomplish as much on this as I want to of getting rid of stuff, I think that our going through this challenge has set my mindset that, "Sure, I could put up shelves on every square foot of my garage and just keep all those things," but I think I'm going to go in with the mindset of, "What is it that I use? How can I make it that that is the most accessible easy stuff to get? What is stuff that I need to continue to keep that I might not use all the time? Where can that go?" And then not cover every square foot of my garage in shelving. So I think it's a mindset that I'm going in that I might not have had a couple of years ago.

All right. Well, it sounds like we're all doing pretty good. Any final observations before we wrap up this check-in for week number three?

Troy: Well, my big observation, Scot, the biggest challenge I've had with this is as I've gotten rid of things, I've thought to myself, "I have space for it. Why do I have to get rid of it?" So it's been sort of a change in mentality where I think it gets back to a lot of what we talked about early on in this, that it's not about "Do I have space?" It's more like "What does this bring to my life? What does this really add to my life?"

And it's also sort of that change in mentality of saying, "Hey, I'm not my stuff. This is not me. I have this stuff. I don't need to hold on to this for some sense of identity. I am who I am." A lot of these items that may have sentimental value. I think there's some value in learning to let go of those things.

So I think that's probably been the bigger thing for me. Every time I've done this before, it's been about either we're moving or we're trying to remodel and I don't want to move all this stuff. I just need to get rid of it because it's taking up space. Where this has been a very different mentality. And getting back to the mental health piece, I think that's been a really positive thing.

Scot: How has it impacted your mental health?

Troy: I think that's the biggest thing. Even now as I'm looking around, I'm obviously still decluttering, but it has become more not so much, again, "Oh, yeah, this closet has got plenty of room. I can just leave this stuff here." It's more like, "Hey, this isn't something I use. It's not something that brings anything to my life. I don't need to hold on to this stuff."

And so, like Dr. Chan talked about early on, he said something that stuck with me. He said, "We think about the past and it makes us sad, and we think about the future and it makes us anxious." And so I think it kind of takes that piece out where you hold on to a lot of things and maybe there is kind of that sentimental piece, but it's also kind of like, "Hey, why do I need to hold on to this? Let's focus on the here and now and where I am now." And I think just from a mental health perspective, that's a more positive thing.

Mitch: With Jonathan going through this same process and kind of exposing him to these ideas, it's kind of cool to see how excited he is, right? He's starting to look at more . . . he's like, "I would like a new chair." And it's being able to say, "Well, this chair that we've had forever, it's perfectly good, it's perfectly whatever," to be like, "Get something that you actually want." Make space for what you're doing right now, not the identity you had three years ago. This piece of furniture does not define you. We can get rid of it and get something new.

So it's been really interesting to kind of get rid of this stuff and see how excited he is about rethinking about how we use our space, what we put in that space, and actually making room for now.

Troy: I like it.

Scot: And how it makes you feel and how you feel in that space and how . . . yeah.

If you'd like to join us with the declutter challenge, we still have one more week left I think. I think we're doing this for 30 or 31 days. You can do so. Just go to facebook.com/whocaresmenshealth, and go ahead and let us know how you want to participate, why you want to participate, maybe post up some photos of some of the stuff you're getting away. Join us and see if it improves your mental health as well with the declutter challenge with "Who Cares About Men's Health."


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