I recently moved house. Prior to the move I decided it would be a great opportunity to reduce the amount of personal stuff I have and my goal was to halve it.

I started with clothes. I easily got rid of half. I used the old tenet that if you haven’t used a piece of clothing in the past 12 months you should get rid of it. There were a few things that I felt a pang of doubt about parting with but once I had made up my mind I was happy to stick with the decision with no regrets. 

I don’t have a surfeit of personal care items so there was nothing to go out there.

Next it was on to my office. I work from home and the office had become a man cave overflowing with stuff jammed into drawers and cupboards and piled around the room. I emptied out whole filing cabinets full of papers that had accumulated over 10 years and which I hadn’t looked at at all. A large box of cables was distilled to a small handful of useful ones. An original translucent green iMac along with a range of old computer paraphernalia went out. There were boxes, cardboard and paper that had been saved for some sort of re-use but had never been re-used. They went out. Piles of useless brochures, catalogues and reports all went out. 

I decided to keep my large collection of records and CDs. At some point I may bequeath them to my daughter. They are special to me and I do still listen to them. (I would like to note that I only buy digital music now. I haven’t bought any vinyl for 25 years and I haven’t bought a CD in 5-6 years.) I also kept nearly all of my pieces of art and posters. Again, these things are treasures and I felt that I could be more ruthless in other areas to compensate.

Another difficult area was my books. About 10 percent were easy to get rid of. Then I got rid of books that I thought I would never read or refer to again, mostly novels. However, I did keep many books that in all likelihood I will never refer to again. I ended up with about 25 boxes of books and cleared out about 10 boxes, so I got rid of nearly 30%. Most of the books I buy now are e-books or second-hand books. 20% or less are new.

From the shed I removed some worn out camping gear and piles of other junk that I had kept ‘just-in-case’. The fact is that ‘I don’t think ‘just-in-case’ had ever happened to me!

Along with my personal effects we cleared out a variety of household effects and the large pile was collected by the Salvation Army.

Overall I think I got rid of 35-40%. I didn’t quite reach my goal but I hadn’t failed. The most important outcome from this undertaking is that I learned a lot about myself. I have stopped accumulating junk and I appreciate what I have kept more than I did before. I enjoyed finding special things that I had forgotten about or thought I had lost. 

I have unburdened myself and I will continue to remove stuff from my life.