Being a college student means you get to accumulate free stuff. By the time that you’re in your last year of school, you’ll start to realize how insignificant all of that free stuff really is in the grand scheme of things. It’s time that you start focusing on what’s important.

For many of you, that could mean moving into your own place, getting married, finding a job, paying bills, starting a family, and supporting yourself. Here are three questions to ask yourself about things when simplifying your life:

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1. Is This Necessary for My Success?

Find the five closest items to you that you can hold in your hands. For me: a pen, a pad of paper, a book of poetry, my water bottle, and some sun glasses. Now ask yourself the question above.

Here are my results:

  • Pen – Necessary for my success as a writer, thinker, and leader.
  • Paper – Also necessary for my success as a writer, thinker, and leader.
  • Book of poetry – Necessary for me to get good grades in my poetry workshop class. Also necessary for my critical thinking and writing skills.
  • Water bottle – Necessary for my health, as long as I keep it filled with water to hydrate. (Hydrate often, folks!)
  • Sunglasses – Not necessary; I stay inside most of the time. Plus, Michigan winters don’t allow much time for sunlight.

The idea is that you’ll find things that you don’t find necessary and you’ll find things that you can’t live without. Once you categorize these things, you’ll find that your life will be a bit more clear.

2. Is This Weighing Me Down?

You’ll find things that are weighing you down — literally and figuratively: an old book bag, 1001 free t-shirts from school, or an old laptop that you’re not using any longer. When you find those things, it’s good to get rid of them. What good are they to you? How are they helping you?

They’re not.

They’re just sitting there in your closet, taking up space and accumulating dust. It’s things like this that can cloud your mind and space, creating a cluttered atmosphere that can be detrimental to your success. Just let those things go. I promise once you do, life will feel simpler.

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3. Who Can Benefit from This?

There may be things that you find to be a burden, yet someone else may treasure it. That being said, when you find things that aren’t necessary and are also weighing you down, the best thing you can do is find someone else who can use it for their success.

For example, let’s say you have a shelf that you don’t need anymore. It’s a good shelf; sturdy and reliable. But you just have no use for it any longer. You had a roommate last year whose girlfriend was an English major and you remember her telling you that she keeps all of her books for school. Where is she going to put all of those books?

Finding others and helping them in their successes can prove to be an experience that you find to be rewarding. Sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest of differences in other people’s lives. People remember what you’ve done for them. If you help them now, chances are they’ll want to help you later on at some point. That can be all the difference.

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Image: Danijel Grabovac

simplifying your life