Reconsidering everything you own

I’m reading a novel called “My Year of Meats” by Ruth Ozeki and was struck by the  following passage. This quote is by a documentary filmmaker living in a small New York apartment:

“It’s a ritual I perform every year. I go through all my possessions, touching each one by one. I reconsider everything I own, and either choose it again or throw it away. It’s a deterrent to shopping and stuff stays special that way.”

I love this passage (except the throwing away part); I like the idea of touching and reconsidering each possession on an annual basis. 

I can’t help but think that if I did this my garage would not look the way it does right now. Unfortunately, I don’t have a small New York apartment that forces me to reconsider everything I own. Instead, I need to be self-disciplined. Oy! 

Seems overwhelming to go through everything, but I’ve found that breaking things down into small tasks helps.

Drawer by drawer, I’m trying to make it so that my possessions are ones that I would choose again today.

What are your strategies for tackling clutter?


  1. What the New York person does sounds like it would work…the re-evaluating of items’ relevancy. But in order for me to actually touch every single item I own, it would probably be a year long exercise. I suppose the real trick of it is to do as you said and pick an area and start. Then be doggedly persistent!

  2. I recently went through my clothes. I chose to get rid of about half of my clothing via freecycle, simply because I just didn’t wear most of the things regularly enough to validate owning them. The clothes were passed through a few gals in our freecycle group (plus size thrift/gently used clothes are hard to come by, so they were happy!).

    I try really hard not to buy trinkets, etc., because we live in a small apartment. Mostly, I want the things I own to be useful, carefully crafted and/or beautiful. If something doesn’t fit those parameters, it’s off to a thrift store or freecyle, serving as a reminder that I have all that I require and don’t need to buy anything more!

    • Indeed. We all have so much.
      In the past I held onto a few things “just in case” – now as I go through my office I find things and think, what is this and why do I have it?

  3. This spring I am pretending that I’m moving. Getting rid of items that I don’t use or are not useful. I like the idea of touching each individual item and truly evaluating it. A small NY apartment actually sounds heavenly…less cleaning!

  4. wow, touching every item i own would take a while and would probably help me clear some bits out as i thought, ugh, why do i have to waste time on this? might try it!

  5. I eliminate clutter at its source….buying. I don’t shop for entertainment. If I need an item…need,not want…I find the best price and purchase it. My special pieces are handmade by friends/family. My clothes are simple with a dress up outfit, a good go-to-town outfit and the rest farm clothes.

    Our clutter would be the stuff that keeps a farm running. You just can’t throw it away so you have to find ways to store it for the month a year you need it. We moved a entire faranimals,equipment,household goods from MI to MO…picture that for a moving exercise!!! DEE

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