Learning is for life. Even decades after graduation many people continue to enrich their lives through courses offered through institutions of higher learning, programs at work, libraries, continuing ed and through all types of self-study media, including the Internet. It is almost as if there is an unquenchable capacity for acquiring new skills and information for self-improvement and recreation. How do we know this? The empirical evidence is in plain view in the offices, file cabinets and bookshelves of those clients whose propensity to retain all vestiges of personal history exceeds society’s norms.
In the same fashion as we described the work-stockpiling activities of self-preservationists in our book, Showing Clutter the Door, saving the over-sized binders filled with the 12 cassettes covering “overcoming objections” in the sales process or icebreakers for more effective meetings, amounts to C.R.UD. Long after one has changed careers, retired or simply lost interest in the topic, the educational artefacts linger on. These memory keepers are the very individuals who have conveniently forgotten they parted ways with their cassette players umpteen years ago.
When we point out these books, binders, VHS tapes and CDs are occupying a goodly share of their limited storage space, we often are met with stiff resistance. “I paid hundreds of dollars for that program, ” they decry. “I might need those someday if I ever decide to open my own hypnotherapy practice or study Arabic.” They might also claim they are saving the manuals for their children, thereby doubling the value of their original investment in these materials. Once again we feel obligated to remind them their children’s vehicles do not contain cassette players either, and anything their kids want to know can be transmitted to them instantaneously, wirelessly.
This is what makes these aging relics of an earlier era emblematic of what C.R.U.D. is. The only purpose they serve is highly subjective and nostalgic. Why waste your time and space figuring out where and how to store something that has about as much chance of being consulted as asking Oscar Madison about the latest styles in menswear.
This is how you begin to confront the old coursework demon. Remember by throwing away old course material, be it introductory quantum mechanics or how to be a billionaire without doing any work, you are not sacrificing a piece of yourself to the dumpster. You will not receive a visit from the major crime squad. Then proceed to the basement, shed, garage, attic, or wherever you store mildewed boxes you are reluctant to open alone and dig in. It is probably a good idea to have someone else with you who can be trusted to save you from your sentimental rationalizations.
The paper manuals, handouts and brochure ware can all be handled through paper recycling programs. The binders can be donated to charities and non-profits. The cassettes and VHS tapes pose more of a challenge as magnetic tape is not recyclable. The plastic is however. The tape can be removed using a screwdriver to prevent injury.
Once complete, sit back and enjoy the open spaces you have created. Next time you feel the urge to learn something you can always use your computer. If you take courses that include materials, certifications of completion or written assignments, consider passing them on to others when you have finished. You may want to listen to the hypnotherapy tapes one last time, in the interest of hypnotizing yourself into letting go of stuff you will never look at again…