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How much should you own? Here is a clever way of figuring that out

by respaced on January 4, 2013

Oftentimes, I get asked the question, how many ________ should I own? One way to answer that question is to turn it on its head and ask the questioner, how much time are you willing to devote to managing those items (ie. finding a home for them, cleaning them, putting them away when you are done with them, repairing them, and eventually discarding them)?

Here’s another way of answering the “How much should I own?” question. Take a look around a room in your house and ask yourself, what percentage of the items in this room get used at least once a year? If your answer is only 30 percent, then you probably have too much useless clutter sitting around. If your answer is 80 percent or higher, I personally think you have the right amount of stuff.

Of course, most people have no idea what percentage of their stuff they use regularly. To figure it out, try testing a sample area. Start with your closet, your pantry, or your kitchen drawers. Let’s talk about the closet as our example: In your closet, place everything on hangers facing backward. Take everything out of the drawers and place them in boxes right inside your closet. Whenever you use something from the closet rod, replace the article of clothing facing the correct way on the hanger. Place used things from boxes back into their proper drawers after being used. Whatever is left on the closet rod facing backwards or in a box at the end of a year is not being used. Subtract that number from the number of articles of clothing in your closet overall, and you can find out what percentage of your closet your use.

Our homes are not meant to hold mostly items that may be useful “someday.” They are meant to hold the tools that will allow us to live comfortably, live out our values and carry out our goals. If fewer than 80 percent of the items in your house are being used at least once a year, it’s time to do some decluttering.

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