The Decluttered and the Not-Decluttered

We have a neat way of classifying people based on what they have:  the HAVEs and the HAVE NOTs.  Though the distinction aims to divide people into rich and poor, it is indicative of how much weight we, as a society, place on possessions – on “having” something that the others do not.  All too often it is about “look what I have” or “I wish I had”.  Very few people say “I don’t have” and just leave it at that.  The judgement justifying why “I don’t have” usually follows.  It’s complicated, but suffice it to say that we like to link our self-worth and achievements to what we possess or “own” (yes, I’ve succumbed to that stereotype myself).

I have a friend who, though definitely a HAVE, has very little.  His small cottage in an upmarket suburb is neat yet sparse with only the necessary furniture and functional accessories.  There are no superfluous and/or decorative trinkets on the wall-unit nor a wealth (pun intended) of kitchen appliances on the counter.  He has what he needs and needs what he has.  I ask myself whether I have fallen short on something he has gotten right.

Though I would hang a few more things on my friend’s wall and keep a few mementos on a shelf, part of me wishes I could simplify my life a little… ok, a lot.  There are definite advantages to keeping it simple and not cluttering up our lives with superfluous stuff:  Less to spend money on and often less debt, less to stress, even less to clean.  I don’t want to chase my own tail every month and I know full well that I can waste money with the best of them.  I can only imagine what could be achieved with the money tied up in all the unnecessary and even pointless stuff in my house!

Maybe it’s not such a long way to imagine that at all.  As the TEARS Retail Manager, I don’t have to go far to see what a difference the donations of “stuff” can make.  We rely on the sale of those donations to fund our operations, outreaches and projects.  So, if the motivation to declutter my life is not already clear then maybe the ability to save an animal or two is the kick needed to get me started.  Maybe this will get you started.

I did a little reading, a very little, and found that there are a lot of people on the declutter bandwagon.  Marie Kondo may have the declutter crown with specific “selection criterion – choosing what sparks joy! …not choosing what to discard but rather choosing to keep only the items that speak to your heart”.  Sounds so simple, but even us mere mortals can declutter with a few simple approaches.


Ok, this is not my idea, but Marie Kondo’s and it seems to make sense.  Don’t start decluttering room by room… rather start with a category of items such as clothes, tools, or trinkets.  This makes it so much easier to start and make meaningful progress. 

Meaningfully Declutter the Meaningless

Building on the above, set aside the things that do not “spark joy”, the things that do not speak to your heart.  Ok, don’t get rid of your electric toothbrush because there is no joy there, but maybe it’s time to part with that extra set of placemats you’ve accumulated.  The set your mother gave you makes your heart sing and are better in so many ways.

The Three Box Method

Set out three boxes and label them KEEP, THROW AWAY and DONATE.  Set aside items in your house into one of those boxes.  Approach this category by category – clothes, shoes, kitchen gadgets, linen…  Keep it, throw it away and donate (you see where I’m going with this?)

6-month Hanger Test

Don’t know what to donate from your closet?  Turn all your hangers around so that they hook onto the rail from behind.  Every time you wear something turn the hanger around the “right” way when you put it back.  At the end of a six-month period donate the items that remain on hangers facing the “wrong” way on your rail… you’re not wearing them anyway.

10-10-10 – Items to Donate-Throw Away-Keep

With your above three boxes laid out, take 30 items per day and place them in the three boxes, 10 in each box.  That will force you to reduce your 30 items to 10.  Decluttering on steroids! 

These are just the ideas that made sense to me, but there are many more options available online which may suit you better.  Just remember to take Before and After photos to commemorate your achievements.  One item at a time we can change to a HAVE-who-has-not.

Now, that one box that says DONATE on it, take it to TEARS and save an animal’s life.  How’s that for decluttering with a purpose?… talk about sparking joy!