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Paperless is for Wimps, Some Going Possessionless



Life can sure feel cluttered sometimes, which is why I’m on a quest to go paperless. There used to be a lot of paper around my home office, but I’ve been scanning and shredding like a mad man this summer. But some people are going a leap further and getting rid of just about all of their possessions. I read an interesting article last night on the subject over at and realized I knew the subject of the article.

Kelly Sutton, a software engineer I’ve met several times at various geek events due to his site,  At one event or another I suggested that he check out and one thing led to another and he landed an internship there. He landed a fulltime job at the company and moved permanently from southern California to New York. Apartments in New York are notoriously small and Kelly took the opportunity to simplify his life. Big time. There are probably Buddhist monks with more possessions than the Kelly.

On, Kelly’s listed every possession he owns and whether he’s selling or keeping it.  I take more stuff with me on a weekend trip than Kelly owns. But just because Kelly doesn’t have a lot of possessions doesn’t mean the guy’s ditched the stuff that matters. He’s digitized as much of his stuff as possible. The rest of his possessions just cost too much time. At he wrote:

I’ve found that more stuff equates to more stress. Each thing I own came with a small expectation of responsibility. I look into my closet and feel guilt. I glance into my desk drawers and see my neglect. When was the last time I wore this? Have I ever even used that?

Instead of trying to distribute my time too thin among all of my possessions, I will simply get rid of most of them. I will eliminate a large part of stress in my life and I will truly cherish the few things that I own.

I completely agree with Kelly that some possessions can cause stress by draining time. For example, my wife and I had three cars when we got married a few years ago. I quickly tired of shuffling them around to avoid sweep sweeper fines, bringing them in for maintenance, cleaning them and of course spending money on them.

Kelly’s held onto his MacBook Pro, Kindle and iPad. He’s also hanging onto a backup drive and a few changes of clothes.

Kelly does rent an apartment, but some people are going with even less, opting to live on friends’ couches and not have a permanent address. How much stuff is cluttering up your life?



  1. eclecticmess

    08/17/2010 at 7:14 am

    FYI…your link to is broken…missing an ‘O’ in the link URL ;)

  2. Ben

    08/17/2010 at 7:19 am

    Sounds like a good plan to me. However, if you’re the DIY type, you can’t get by with less because you need tools.

    “Instead of trying to distribute my time too thin among all of my possessions, I will simply get rid of most of them. I will eliminate a large part of stress in my life and I will truly cherish the few things that I own.”

    I do the same thing with my friends.

  3. Kelly Sutton

    08/17/2010 at 9:13 am

    Thanks for the write-up, Xavier. Hope all is well :)

    • Xavier Lanier

      08/17/2010 at 10:42 am

      Glad to post- things are great here. Article caught my eye because we recently spring cleaned. Took about 10 garbage bags full of stuff out (to trash/charity) and it made a nice dent. Like in NY, square footage is a valuable commodity and there’s no reason for paperwork that I might need someday should cause me to use up 4-6 fo those square feet for another filing cabinet.

  4. Nameless

    08/18/2010 at 7:31 pm

    I have a small collection of retro game consoles/handhelds, old PC components, and input devices that I’d hate to part with, but they definitely take up a significant amount of space combined. (And my collections are relatively modest compared to some of those hardcore collectors out there with entire rooms devoted to their stuff, often complete in box and all!)

    Of course, I keep most of that stuff because I enjoy having it around, and in the case of the retro consoles, emulation just isn’t like playing on the real deal. But if I get any extras or generally find that I’m not enjoying something as much as I thought, I will turn around and sell it-not just for the money, but because it’s one less thing I have to worry about keeping in check.

  5. sbtablet

    08/19/2010 at 6:44 am

    Getting rid of clutter is no problem for me. But when I’ve tried to go farther, and get rid of things we just don’t use, but every time I run into a brick wall called my husband. He’s a card carrying member of the, “It isn’t broken and I might want to use it someday” school. And if I push, he starts hitting below the belt and threatening my book collection.

  6. AJ C

    01/19/2013 at 9:16 am

    “There are probably Buddhist monks with more possessions than the Kelly.” and “Kelly’s held onto his MacBook Pro, Kindle and iPad.” – It’s not really reducing possessions it is just changing the way he has them. Convert all the ebooks, mp3’s and video files into Dvd’s, books and Cd’s and he would probably be tripping over them

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