Keeping Like With Like

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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.

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 (and with owning so much) is that duplicates and excess are an easier problem to run into.

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.

Having handbags strewn all over the house, in cupboards, under beds and in wardrobes is one thing. Having all your handbags in one central location so you can see how many you have, and make a convenient choice over the best one to use, is quite another.

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 paring back and living more simply, it is an easier decision to make. You look at all the pairs of trainers, you mentally tick off what you use each one for, and you realise the pair you haven’t worn in 18 months can go.

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.

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. E.g. ALL the shoes go in the cupboard under the stairs. ALL the DVDs live on the shelves in the lounge. ALL the computer cables go in the 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!

Action points

  • 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.
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