A Decluttering Strategy for Downsizing

“Simplify” is a word and concept that becomes more significant to me as I age. I’m having success applying it to my work (a 100% paperless legal practice) but it’s harder at home. I struggle with the realization of how much stuff there is to get rid of when we downsize. The household clutter is a constant reminder of what needs to be done. Thus, I was intrigued by the “stock theory” of decluttering that I read about today.

By “stock theory”, I mean a simple thought process for deciding if you should hold or sell a stock or mutual fund that you might own as an investment. The ¬†analysis is this: Knowing what you know about the stock and its current price, would you buy the stock today? If the answer is “no”, then there is very little (if any) logic in holding the stock. You should sell it.

Now let’s apply that same theory to clutter. Take a look around your house, your garage, and your attic. Identify an object that is taking up space. (Anything that takes up space needs to be a discard target for a downsizing baby boomer.) Now ask yourself these questions about that object:

1. What would that object cost you to buy today, at current prices?

2. Knowing what you know about the current condition of the object and its usefulness to you, would you purchase it today, at today’s price?

If the answer to question 2 is “no” then that object needs to be gone from your house.

Note that these questions are mostly applicable to stuff that is performing no function in your life other than to take up space. The problem is that we analyze the “keep or discard” question with reference to how much the object cost or was worth when you acquired it. For example, if there is an old computer printer sitting unused in a spare room that you once paid $200 for, you may be reluctant to part with it for fear of “wasting” your $200. But then ask yourself if you would buy that same printer today – for even $100 – and then stick it in that room, unused.

Of course the answer is “no.”

So if you wouldn’t buy it today, why would you keep it?

Try it. It’s simple but it works, I promise.

Source: The Stock Theory of Decluttering | SimpleProductivityBlog.com.


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