Paring back your possessions and living with less is most often a slow process. It takes mental adjustment along with the investment of time and energy to let go of things, and a way of life, that you have taken for granted for many years.
One of the things that can help you as you make this adjustment is the principle of keeping like with like. Keeping like with like was instrumental in helping me to finally organise my endless mess. It also made it easier to declutter because I could see just how much of each thing I had.
The problem with storing things everywhere
Our houses allow us to spread our possessions over multiple floors and in multiple rooms. If we hire storage, or use parents’ or friends’ lofts, we can even store things across multiple locations.
The problem with this spread out storage is you aren’t aware of what you own. Duplicates and excess are an easier problem to run into. It can be hard to find something you’re sure you already have. You might forget that you own it and buy another. Things get neglected, dusty, even broken. And because you don’t have everything together you can acquire hundreds of the same thing (pens, clothes, books), all stored in various locations.
Start keeping like with like
Having handbags strewn all over the house, in cupboards, under beds and in wardrobes is not helpful when it comes to choosing a handbag. Having all your handbags in one central location makes the choice easy and enjoyable.
No matter how much stuff you have, and no matter how little decluttering you do to start with, the principle of keeping like with like will prime your brain for the process of letting go.
By keeping things together, you make it easier for your subconscious to decide what it no longer needs. If you can see all your trainers in a row, then eventually you are going to realise that there is a pair that never gets used. When it comes to decluttering and living more simply, it is an easier decision to make. You can:
- Look at all the pairs of trainers
- Mentally tick off what you use each one for
- Realise you own two tatty pairs you haven’t worn in 18 months.
- Feel good at the easy win for the shoe recycling bag
If however, those particular trainers were under the bed in a spare room, imagine what would happen when you tried to declutter that room. You’d pull the trainers out from under the bed and think:
Hmm. Old trainers. They might be handy for clearing out the garage. Or doing a fun run in bad weather… I’ll hang onto these!
Without all the other pairs of trainers around them to give them a context, your brain sees them and decides that they are useful.
Tidying is easier
The other reason that I am such a big fan of keeping like with like is that it really helps when it comes to putting things away and tidying up. Shoes all go in the cupboard under the stairs. The DVDs all live on the shelves in the lounge. Computer cables always go in a drawer in the office.
Categorising things and keeping them together gives you a sense of mental order, even if your house is still bursting with stuff.
Give it a try.
- Try creating a single home for something: your cables, pens, DVDs, or even your sports gear.
- When you’ve collected everything together, keep it that way.
- As time goes by, notice if there are surplus items that you no longer really need.