Tips for becoming more minimalist...
May 29, 2011 7:20 PM   Subscribe

How do I curb my hoarder tendencies?

I've just spent the weekend spring cleaning, and have managed to create 12 garbage bags worth of stuff to freecycle / take to the charity shop / throw out. I'm only about half way through, and haven't even gone near my wardrobe or the loft (and I live in a small flat...).

I've spent most of the weekend wondering how I've managed to accumulate so much crap over the 6 years I've lived here, and also, what on earth I was thinking when I decided to keep it all! I never want to have to do this again.

I appreciate that I should do this exercise on a regular basis, but what I really want to learn to do is how to not accumulate the crap in the first place. And to learn to acknowledge when something no longer adds value to my life and make a point of getting rid of it.

Couple of examples of things I've got rid of this weekend, to give you an idea of the problem:
- I bought a new colander 3 years ago (my old one was a cheapie that I bought when I first moved in and I always hated it). But I kept the old one, I think in case I ever needed two. They both sat in the same cupboard, so I saw the old one several times a week.
- I was given a set of handweights 10 years ago by a friend who didn't want them any more. I've moved them from house to house and have never used them. Not even once.
- I bought a daylight simulator alarm clock about 4 years ago. I tried it for about 3 months and it didn't work for me. But it's been sitting on my bedside table, unplugged, since then.

I need help - any suggestions welcome!
posted by finding.perdita to Home & Garden (38 answers total) 55 users marked this as a favorite
One in, one out.
posted by SomeTrickPony at 7:23 PM on May 29, 2011 [5 favorites]

Watching an episode of Hoarders usually scares me straight. "It's All Too Much!" by Peter Walsh is a good read, too.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 7:25 PM on May 29, 2011 [3 favorites]

Here's my appropriately minimal tip: If you haven't thought about something in 3 years and can easily replace it, get rid of it. Family photos are usually exempt, as are rare things. And by rare I mean "Grandma gave it to me and I have no idea how I would replace it", not "this Magic card is rare."
posted by fiercekitten at 7:33 PM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

Before buying something, I think about the state of other things in that category that I already own before I buy that thing. Like, if I am going to buy a shirt, I think, wait, are the shirts I have hanging neatly in my closet? Or are they smashed in there and piled in the laundry?

It just makes me think that if I'm not taking really good care of what I already own, I shouldn't be buying more stuff like that.
posted by shortyJBot at 7:36 PM on May 29, 2011 [9 favorites]

Best answer: Truly consider if you'll use it. Next, consider the worst case scenario for not having it. You're normally going to find it's not that big of a deal if you toss it.
posted by trogdole at 7:42 PM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

In the kitchen, I don't buy the second thing until I find out through bitter experience that I need it. If you need two colanders, you will discover this by having to pause midway through your cooking to wash the one you have that you already used once. It's even better if you wait until it happens to you two or three times before getting the second one. So I have a second bowl for my mixer because I got tired of stopping to wash the first one midway through a complicated recipe, but only one big beater because it only takes a couple minutes to wash that and I don't mind.

Also, when you have less stuff and less clutter, it's easier to make sure to process out the stuff that needs to go, like alarm clocks that don't work for you.

I also donate to a big once-a-year charity sale and set myself a minimum threshold of donation value, which pushes me to clean crap out once a year, like alarm clocks that I don't like.

If I were a better person I'd get rid of more, faster, but I go at the speed I can!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:48 PM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Seconding TROGDOLE. You may be asking yourself the wrong question. If you ask, "Might I ever have a use for this?" the answer will almost certainly be yes, and you'll keep it. If, instead, you ask yourself, what's the worst thing that could happen if I throw this away?", the answer will often be nothing, and you can toss it.
posted by Bruce H. at 7:51 PM on May 29, 2011 [9 favorites]

I also have hoardy tendencies. I find it easier to get rid of stuff if I can give it to someone who needs it, donate it, or recycle it. I've given a bunch of scrap metal and other crafty items to other artists who are in need of materials. If the item is so worthless that no one wants it, then it's easier to throw in the trash. If I bring in a new thing, I try to get rid of a couple of unneeded things.

One of the ways that i avoid adding to the clutter, is to collect data rather than things. On one 2 terrabyte drive I have a huge collection of photos, music, and books. I ripped most of mt CDs and got rid of them and sold a bunch of my books. Now I either borrow books from the library or buy downloads of music. Satisfies the want of new things without taking up any space.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 7:54 PM on May 29, 2011 [3 favorites]

I keep a large trash bag stashed away, and twice a week (Trash Tuesday and Trash Thursday) I add one thing to it. The rule is just one thing twice a week, but sometimes I do add more than one at a time. I've never reached the point where it was difficult to pick an item, but I figure I would stop for a while if that ever happened. When the bag is full I drop it off at goodwill. We just moved six months ago and did a thorough purge, but it's still very easy to find the giveaway items.
posted by raisingsand at 7:54 PM on May 29, 2011 [4 favorites]

If you haven't used it in a few months, and realistically aren't going to be able to invest the time it takes to use it any time soon, and it's not a family heirloom or antique, get rid of it. Keep receipts somewhere handy, so you can easily return unused items.

Also, don't buy things on sale just because they're a bargain. If you have something already that does the same job as the sale item, don't buy it. Don't carry cash. Don't keep a lot of money in your checking account.

I bought a daylight simulator alarm clock about 4 years ago. I tried it for about 3 months and it didn't work for me. But it's been sitting on my bedside table, unplugged...

Four years ago? Why is it so hard to get rid of such a thing that's in plain sight every day, taking up useful bedside table space? You might be a little bit OCD. Not saying it's taking over your life or anything, but it might be good to talk about it with someone. Most of us could all use a little therapy for our issues.
posted by sunnychef88 at 7:55 PM on May 29, 2011

Best answer: You're on the right track. You don't have a problem throwing out things that don't add value to your life. If you don't use it, if it isn't beautiful, or doesn't mean anything to you, get rid of it. Don't think about objects too much.

Don't buy cheapie stuff, like inexpensive t-shirts, plastic tumblers, seasonal decorations, etc., just because.

Keep getting rid of stuff.

If you buy new stuff, throw out or donate the old stuff it is replacing.

Don't buy books, use the library or Kindle. Especially don't buy specialty books like how to fold origami or how to be an urban farmer. You'll never do it and the books will only make you feel guilty.

Choose hobbies that need zero or minimal supplies.

Don't subscribe to magazines. Read them online or in the library.

Don't accept castaways or freebies.

Think about your past and your everyday habits. If you've never been able to remember to take a daily vitamin, don't buy more thinking you will this time. You're not going to and they will expire. I don't buy mouthwash any longer. I like the idea of it but I rarely think to rinse with mouthwash, so I no longer purchase it.

Don't buy cookbooks or specialty kitchen gadgets unless you are a chef. Every recipe you could ever want is on the internet for free. Kitchen gadgets like garlic presses, blenders, muffin tins, bread tins, etc. take up space and are rarely used. You don't need Tupperware, keep leftovers in a glass, a plate, or a bowl covered with saran wrap.

Don't buy in bulk.
posted by Fairchild at 7:56 PM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

Also, Peter Walsh's books are great for this. I've recommended this one before:
Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?
posted by raisingsand at 8:00 PM on May 29, 2011

A metric I find useful for stuff-accumulation is Is this something I could sell on Craigslist? Because if the answer to that is "no" -- if it is so poorly made and disposable, so easily and cheaply obtained, that nobody would want to e-mail me to make arrangements to retrieve it for even a very low price, I probably do not need it. Obviously there are exceptions; few people would buy an egg slicer on CL but egg slicers are still nice to have. (On preview, see Fairchild's "don't buy cheapie stuff.") For egg slicers &c I go to Does this mean I won't ever have to buy another? Try to only buy the most durable sorts of goods. If you don't have the money for the durable kind, get super-duper-cheap, thrift or dollar store, which may work, and if not you are not out much when you replace it with the durable kind. With those two you can avoid the middle-of-the-road, "nationally advertised brand name," grossly over-produced schlock that fills the Walmarts, and your goods will at least be nice or functional or both. All three of the things you mention seem to be that Walmart-level sort of good that shows well in a flyer (this week only: $29.99; regularly $80) but which even yard sale patrons tend to steer clear of. Final metric: Did my grandparents have one of these? Not that I am against seat belts or computers, but the novelty of it also makes clear a lot of unnecessaries.
posted by kmennie at 8:03 PM on May 29, 2011 [10 favorites]

One more thing: Keep a tall trash can in your bedroom and home office and laundry room if you have one. It helps me get rid of clothing tags, old clothes, mismatched socks, magazines, bottles, used up and old cosmetics etc. I think I have ADD and if I had to bring the object to the kitchen trash, it might not get thrown away for weeks, months, or years.
posted by Fairchild at 8:05 PM on May 29, 2011 [3 favorites]

Only allow a certain amount of room. For example, in order to stop collecting books like mad, I give myself only a certain amount of shelves for books. Once the shelves are full, any new books have to push out old books. I also only allow X feet of hanging space in the closet for clothes. The downside is that you have to be disciplined and not cheat and create new shelves for the stuff, but it does help keep your stuff in equilibrium. It also avoids the annual clean up because you clear out the odd book, gadget, or shirt only when you run out of room. One bonus is that it can be sort of fun to look over your stuff to see just one thing to get rid of.

I got this habit from living aboard a sailboat.
posted by acheekymonkey at 8:06 PM on May 29, 2011 [3 favorites]

I have two envelopes. Inside one, a bunch of paper slips I made that each correspond to 15 or 20 minute bites: a single drawer or shelf, a place where things stack, perhaps an entire cabinet if it's an easy one or a category, e.g., tee shirts. There are about 100 of them and so twice a week I reach into the envelope and pull one out at random. Then I deal with that one thing and put the slip into the other envelope.

Sometimes I cheat, put the slip back and draw another one and sometimes I skip a turn, but basically everything gets addressed once a year. As each year goes by, more and more of the slips turn out to be "easy" ones. Many times I get into the groove and address more than whatever is represented by the slip. And it's becoming easier to be careful with how I address these spaces because I have a better appreciation now of what maintenance work now will spare me in the future.
posted by carmicha at 8:28 PM on May 29, 2011 [17 favorites]

Digitize. Spend a little bit of money on a good sheet-fed scanner, and scan your way out of paper clutter. Take digital pictures of 3D items you're getting rid of (but want to remember) -- t-shirts of your favorite band with their 1996 tour dates? Software like Evernote will make it easy to search this collection later -- a bonus over the physical versions.

Sure, you'll still want to keep really important items -- letters from loved ones, children's art projects, etc. -- but this can help filter out a lot of stuff that you may otherwise be inclined to save.

Good luck!
posted by rdn at 9:34 PM on May 29, 2011

I've moved often the last few years, which has allowed me to clear out junk on a fairly regular basis. My metric is: if I haven't used it in the past year, it gets thrown out or given away.

Obviously there are exceptions, but I find it's pretty robust.
posted by auto-correct at 9:36 PM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

If you're a particularly sentimental person (i.e. "this is the colander me and partner cooked our first pasta in") one of the best tips I've received is to take a photo of the item before throwing it away. Sure, it sounds like lunacy, but it does help.
posted by smithsmith at 9:41 PM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'm seconding watching Hoarders, seriously. I actually am a hoarder and watching that show has helped me see my behavior from a different perspective. It has helped me get rid of a lot of stuff and I even started flossing my teeth because the show made me feel so dirty.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 9:46 PM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

My father is a hoarder, and I definitely have hoarder tendencies. Like others above, I find it a lot easier to get rid of things if I'm donating them or selling them on eBay or the like. I have a one in, one out rule for things like shoes and handbags, and I also have rules like "if I haven't used it in a year, it goes", with very few exceptions (like the antique grandma gave me). For some things, I have a shorter time period - cosmetic items that haven't been used in 3 months go in a box for my friends to go through, and whatever is left after they take what they want goes in the trash. For clothes, I always use the 1-year rule, because I live in a place with seasons.

The other thing that works for me is having regular "spring cleaning" sessions with my husband, every 3 months or so. We both accumulate stuff, and working together to get rid of things helps us keep on top of things.

Thanks for the scanner suggestion for paperwork, rdn. I'm going to start doing that now!
posted by bedhead at 10:03 PM on May 29, 2011

Best answer: One question I find useful is, "If I did not own this item, would I go out and buy it (right now or in the near future)?" This helps cut through the "it might be useful someday" kind of thinking that Bruce H. points out. Yes, a low-quality second colander might be useful someday, but if I only owned the good colander, would I be planning to go out and buy another, lower quality one? Probably not.

Similarly, now that you know the daylight alarm clock doesn't work for you, you would not plan to buy another one if this one suddenly disappeared. So it's probably safe to make this one disappear into the Freecycle vortex.
posted by Orinda at 10:52 PM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

You sound like me.

Basically you need to do this exercise more regularly and it is a mix of throwing things out and giving them to other people. If you notice something sitting there for a while that you don't use think - could I throw this away or give it to someone?

You have to do it every few months at least.
posted by mleigh at 1:04 AM on May 30, 2011

Best answer: I bought a daylight simulator alarm clock about 4 years ago. I tried it for about 3 months and it didn't work for me. But it's been sitting on my bedside table, unplugged...

This is something I'd do. In my case, it's because once something has sat out for a couple of days, it tends to blend into my view of "normal" and I just don't notice it. (Actually, after reading this, I looked at my bedside table and noticed that it has a small cross-stitch design I finished several years ago and have been meaning to make into a card -- into the Unfinished Projects basket it goes!)

Once I notice what's actually there, I generally don't have a hard time getting rid of things or putting them where they go. I assume most people must notice that kind of thing automatically -- I just don't. So I try to build in regular interrupts that prompt me to deal with that kind of thing. Regular clean-out sessions -- usually twice a year for books, to coincide with the library book sales at my local library, and once a year or so for stuff to donate for Goodwill. Regular checks to see if there's stuff I don't need on some surface.

It gets easier once you're doing it on a regular basis, too. Good luck!
posted by pie ninja at 5:25 AM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

As someone who has similar tendencies, and nurtures them in my guise as an antique dealer, I have two mantras. One is "The longer it sits, the more it looks like furniture." And the other is "Do it now, do it all." (on preview, what pie ninja is saying)

So, the very minute you realize it's time to take action on something, do it, and do it all. Go get the alarm clock and put it at the curb with a note that it works (and some other hoarder will take it), if it's just one useful thing. Or run it to the charity shop. Just get it out. (Things I'm re-selling get cleaned, priced and packed for their respective shows/sales on the day they come in (or the minute I get sick of them in the house), so I don't have to do more than grab boxes on the day of an event, and my sale kit is always ready.)

But otherwise, though I don't care for the whole FlyLady deal, the 27 Fling Boogie and Hot Spot Fire Drill are two things that I find thoroughly satisfying and actually work.

Another thing is to keep things from coming in the house, because I find that I feel like then I'm not eventually giving myself the responsibility of finding the ultimate home for these items. Not buying or taking things that will become garbage or donated within a year in the first place is huge (We attended an event yesterday where I explained that we just plain didn't need the free rubber bracelet, poster, tote bag etc.).

But if something can be re-used, just get it out the fastest way possible. If you had to pay yourself to deal with Freecycle/CL/Yard Sales, it's not worth it - the guilt over creating so much garbage/landfill in the world will soon prevent poor purchases in the first place - and if it's not good for a charity shop when you're done with something, it's garbage. Spending energy agonizing over where something should go when you're done with it is exhausting.

Don't even take pictures - it's another form of hoarding, and you'll have to find time to sort/label/print/deal with the thing all over again. Toughen yourself up to the feeling of loss, learn to deal with the anxiety of not having something any more. Lots of people live with less; lots of people lose things in disasters without the opportunity to photograph their possessions and make it through well enough. Your space and free time and freedom from further obligation to a thing is worth more than anything.

And the other thing that really keeps me in check is picturing myself as one of the trash ladies from Labyrinth. Twice in my life I've left home with only a suitcase; once I moved into a place with only one room of my own and what I could fit in it. Now, ten years entrenched in a pretty big house with lots of cool stuff, I can't imagine how I'd do it again. But I had a friend pass away suddenly, recently, and I do know that given the choice between keeping and cleaning/dealing with/disposing of any item, whether sentimental or dross, and having more peace and space and time and freedom, I'd chuck it all.
posted by peagood at 6:00 AM on May 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

The one-in-one-out rule rules!

Here's another thing to think about. That colander, those hand weights, the daylight clock: somebody in your community needs those items now. (Well, maybe not the daylight clock.) But by putting them in a "free" box out by the curb, you're letting folks get what they need, thus keeping them out of Walmart and other plastic junk emporia. Let the Free Marketplace of the Curb take care of your excess.
posted by BostonTerrier at 7:01 AM on May 30, 2011

Previously from me. NB: When I say in that post "relocated elsewhere in the home" or words to that effect, I mean under the rubric described! The post above that mentions the trash cans in the laundry room and the bedroom are using that rubric in that the trash cans are needed and wanted -- and routinely used -- in those rooms.

I also like Peter Walsh's It's All Too Much.
posted by jgirl at 7:06 AM on May 30, 2011

Best answer: I love raisingsand's idea, but realistically, for me, I would forget. It's very difficult for me to make a habit of any kind of schedule that isn't reinforced on a daily basis (On Mondays, I clean out the fridge! and on Saturdays, I organize the closets! etc.) because I spend a lot of time figuring it out, making it useful and smart and efficient... and then I do it once or twice and forget. Argh! It's Tuesday, and I'm supposed to dust everywhere, but I forgot to do Monday-Clean-Out-The-Fridge! Maybe I'll just read Metafilter, and do both later.

One thing you can do is to pick up one extra item each time you take the trash out. That sounds like a lot of getting rid of stuff, but in my experience, it's not. If you can set it neatly by the trash pick up for dumpster surfers*, that's fine, or if not, have that handy-dandy bag somewhere on the route (in the garage? by the front door inside a nice container?) where you can just drop it in, then deliver full bags to Goodwill.

Or for stuff that's not worth recycling like that, just add it to the trash: one item that wasn't going to be in there otherwise.

* I've mostly lived in urban settings, myself, and reusable stuff gets snapped up almost immediately. I live in a weird little tucked away place now, even though it's still in the center of a big city, and even here in what is functionally a resolutely residential little area, reusable stuff that I see put out at the beginning of my dog-walk is rarely there by the end of it. That means 20 or 30 minutes shelf (sidewalk) life in an area with about zero transients or street people.

But you could also make this a pick-up-a-thing-on-the-way-to-work habit, and set it down by a convenient dumpster or similar. Or when you go out to jog. Basically, append it to anything that is already a part of your regular day.

One-in-one-out is also great, but again: I just get back from some shopping; I bought five items. I'm going to immediately scour the house for five items and either walk them directly to the trash, or put them in their neat goodwill bag? If I were that disciplined, I wouldn't have problems keeping things pared down!
posted by taz at 7:17 AM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

I see you're in London, so leaving stuff by the kerb in a box might well get you into trouble with the council for 'fly tipping'. Instead join your local Freecycle group. I've got rid of things on there that I'm amazed other people have wanted - but everything I've ever offered on Freecycle has been snapped up.

Also recommending Fly Lady. I've accumulated a lot of paper I need to sort through, in probably seven or eight supermarket bags, and just doing one at a time has been perfectly do-able and hasn't burned out the shredder motor.
posted by essexjan at 8:08 AM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

I keep a box in my closet and when its full out it goes. If i see something like your alarm clock it goes in the box. I don't stop to pee, pick something else up, check my email or pat the cat. I head straight to the box or I will put it down and forget.

I also try to avoid anything complicated such as attempting to scan and archive things or anything that becomes a system which I can fuss with or I'll fuss with the system until I've forgotten the purpose. Stuff like digital archiving is great, but its advanced level decluttering. Focus on throwing out papers you don't want and sorting out the really importance things (passport, birth cert. etc.) from those you only need for a certain time period. I found a shredder really helpful as it stopped my - can't throw this away it could lead to identity theft problem - train of thought.

If you start with the basics you're much more likely to follow through than if you jump in the deep end.

Then don't buy or accept things you won't use and be brutal about it. Recognize how illogical it is to think you need two colanders unless you regularly find yourself needing two colanders.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 8:48 AM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Make a rule that all the surfaces (i.e., tabletops, tops of night stands or chest of drawers or dressers, kitchen counters, etc.) have to be kept clear and that all drawers and closets and cupboards have to be kept tidy and not over full (i.e., when you open a drawer or cupboard door, no stuff should come tumbling out). And make sure you don't have more storage space than is reasonable.

Keeping this rule forces you to deal with the stuff that accumulates in your home on a regular basis. If you're putting away the new sweater you just bought and you find your sweater drawer is too full, you have to stop and weed out the old sweaters you don't ever wear. If something's been sitting on a table for a day or two and it's not a décor item, you'll have to deal with it.
posted by orange swan at 9:56 AM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

This sounds kinda dumb, but I go virtual shopping. What I mean is, I buy whatever I want -- online only -- and then, after the rush has subsided, I close the browser and walk away. Since my browser re-opens to a blank page every time I use it, I've usually forgotten all about my previous shopping pages. If not, I vow not to buy anything for at least a month, and only if I truly need it. (Need, as in, I've found myself actually needing a particular item in the one month shopping boycott.) I've only actually "needed" something once in the seven years I've been doing this: a potato peeler.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 10:11 AM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've been using Health Month to help goad encourage me to clean more, and it's worked well for me. I've had a "clean 10 things a day" rule (or its equivalent) since February, and I've found that it's just the right amount to get me over the "get started" hump. Sometimes the difficulty with even the simplest task is getting started. With the rule, I negate that difficulty and often accomplish way more than 10 things. Even on those days where I'm tired and I only put away 10 things, it's progress. Also, if I'm lazy about certain things during the week (i.e. hanging up clothes) the 10 things rule has helped me maintain the cleanliness I've achieved. If you decide to sign up, there's even a MeFi team to join. It's almost the start of a new month, so it's a perfect time!
posted by booksherpa at 4:50 PM on May 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

Every place has a thing, every thing has a place. Get your house in order, such that everything can be put away in its place. When you bring something in, give it a home.
posted by gjc at 5:49 PM on May 30, 2011

To cut down on impulse buying, follow the Three Day Rule: whenever you're tempted to buy something that's not on your shopping list and not absolutely necessary, tell yourself that you'll buy it three days later. When that day rolls round more often than not you'll find that you really don't need it after all.

To get rid of stuff painlessly:
  1. Get a big bag/box, or mark off a corner of your bedroom. This will be your Quarantine.
  2. Whenever you see something that you might not need, no matter how slim the chance, send it to the Quarantine.
  3. If you need to use something in the Quarantine, simply take it out.
  4. Every month (or season, depending on your lifestyle), empty the contents of your Quarantine through binning, donating, and selling.
(Told you it's painless.)
posted by fix at 8:14 PM on May 30, 2011

Someone I know has decided that they are not buying any new bookshelves. Their current bookshelves will be reserved for books that are worthy of being kept in hard copy - books they really love or that would lose something by being electronic copies (like art books).

So when they are tempted to buy a book, they ask themself, "Is this book worthy of a hard copy in my limited shelf?". If the answer's no, they buy a Kindle copy, a second-hand copy that they then give away, or borrow it from a library.
posted by girlgenius at 2:14 AM on May 31, 2011

Everything has three main costs: The cost to purchase, the cost to maintain and store, and the cost to dispose. It's not always self-evident how high these costs can be. If you think about similar items you've owned in the past, and what it took to keep those things, that can be useful when looking at buying more.

E.g., electronic things: Remember the last gadget you bought, which in the end wasn't quite what was needed, was abandoned, occupied needed space, took time and energy to relocate and store, then couldn't even be sold used, and had to be carted off to the Goodwill store. Ask yourself whether the current thing could likely go through that same process, taking the same time and energy. If so, would it be worth all that?

Also, don't make the big mistake I keep repeating: Buying things for some magical time in the future where I'll have the unlimited resources to properly use it. Life is what happens right now - buy things that will make future 'nows' simpler and better, not more complex.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 6:44 PM on May 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

Just as the first step in going sober is to stop going to bars, the first step to decluttering is to stop the shopping. I personally hate shopping, and you could probably infer that from my apartment. Your goal should be just as much cutting the number of hours you spend shopping in a month as it is decluttering. So, shop once a week or less, and shop with a plan.

I'm not that much of a hoarder myself, but I have realized it's doing me no good to keep around old video games: they're only decreasing in value and I can always repurchase them later if I really want it back. Even if you don't have a great local library, Amazon makes a pretty good replacement if you buy and resell. Anyways, the thing that really highlighted this for me was figuring out a budget and tracking my expenses and net worth. Once you get into the game of optimizing net worth, it's a short distance from reclassifying purchases expenses (validly) as assets, and then realizing those assets are worth a surprisingly good deal now but less so in the future.

On the wardrobe aspect, I only have anecdotal advice. I hear about a hangar trick to reverse all the hangars on your clothes once and every year do a sweep of all the items that haven't been taken off that backwards hangar. But as a dude, I've got just barely enough clothes to last between laundry days, and maybe four pairs of shoes.
posted by pwnguin at 5:52 PM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

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