40 in 40 · Mesorah (Jewish stuff)

Less Really Is More

“The more possessions the more worry,”

Pirkei Avos 2:7

I’ve noticed a trend among my friends, both in real life and online: People are decluttering. They’re going through their closets, garages, storage spaces, that one room where everything gets dumped (for us, that was our guest room. We can’t exactly have guests right now so it was an obvious locational choice).

This forced confinement has given us the time (well, some of us) to shed excess while also hopefully not bringing in too much more.

While I’ve definitely been doing my fair share of online shopping, I’ve also been contemplating the challenge of having too much stuff.

Raising children seems to necessitate a sometimes frantic rate of acquisition. But when push comes to shove, what do my children prefer to play with? Couch cushions. Empty boxes. Literal garbage.

You’ve probably experienced it, right? Or at least seen a joke about it. You get a child a nice, maybe somewhat pricey gift, and they toss the gift aside and spend hours with the box.

Imaginative play is amazing and important developmentally, and I love what they come up with. Until it’s time to clean it up, of course. And while I am constantly tempted to buy more games and toys and whatnot, really so much of it ends up cluttering up my home.

Pieces get lost. Parts get broken. No matter how assiduously I plan on keeping things organized, it only takes a couple days where I don’t have energy to stay on top of it for total entropy to take over.

I understand this is a good problem. It’s a problem of plenty. But it’s still a problem.

I don’t have any wisdom beyond this, and it’s been a beyond hectic day so it’s unlikely I can string any more semi-coherent sentences together.

I would love to hear thoughts on how to declutter, what to do with that stuff right now during Corona.

Further reading: The Stuff We Are Made Of

–Featured Image Photo by Dipan Kumar Rout on Unsplash

12 thoughts on “Less Really Is More

  1. Loved the article on decluttering. I finally finished a huge job.Neil was terrible at throwing things away. I had too go through a ton of bags and boxes of old bank and investment material, old cards,old newspaper and shul newsletters, and other stuff. He went through some when I forced him to. I cleared most things out, there are a few things for which disposition has not been decided. The recycle things are gone and the trash is gone but I have to have a shredding company come to do shredding.

    I am relieved to be rid of the clutter. I do try to keep clutter down, but I generally use one table and a couple of unused dining room chairs as storage until I feel ready Togo through the stuff and put it away. Yes I DO know what is in these piles.

    Keep up the good work.

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Our recent-ish renovation was a great opportunity for us to live with less. We got rid of a lot of stuff outright, then packed most of our stuff in a container to be stored offsite, and then took only what we really really needed for when we moved in with my parents. The first few weeks back in our house, before we unpacked all the stuff, were beautifully simple. Since unpacking, I’m back in a similar cluttered mess to everyone else. If you find the magic bullet, please share it!

  3. Over the years, my decluttering skills have improved somewhat, so here’s what helps me:

    – Don’t attempt to do too much at a time. Look at one closet, one desk, one corner of the room … for ten minutes. or fifteen. Repeat the next day, or next week. Collect everything that’s obviously garbage in a bag and throw it out immediately.
    – Things that are not garbage: find a good place to give them to. I give clothes or toys to a store specifically for people with little money, both me and the kid are much more happy to give things away if we know they will do some good.
    – I once made the effort of pulling out almost all of my clothes and have a look at what matches what. There were quite a few items I never wear just becaus they don’t really match anything. A few of them I kept anyway :-), with others I realized I’d either have to spend money on new, matching things or give them away. Which I did.
    – Don’t have too much storage space or surfaces that you can just drop things on. Seriously, it reduces clutter.
    – Be happy with you and your life. :DDD I tend to buying more stuff when I’m dissatisfied with something entirely different.
    – You are entitled to have a few things just because you like to hold on to them. Don’t be too strict.

    1. One more thing: Be confident. You will live and be happy even if you don’t buy/keep XY (any amazing item), and so will your kids. No one will sue you if you don’t have paperwork from your bank from ten years ago, and if you need it after all, there will be other solutions. You won’t suddenly forget everything and be stupid if you throw away learning material from the time you went to university. Etc. pp..

  4. For decluttering, I tackle one small space at a time. Just the shelf in the closet, just the plastic containers in the meat cabinets. To help my retail therapy, I keep a mental list of stuff I bought that I regretted buying. (Hello Retail Therapy!) I’ve also forced myself to do only a maximum of two Amazon orders a month. When things sit in my cart for a bit, I often decide I don’t need it. Is Modge-Podging wrapping paper onto lids of jars I’m reusing a lovely idea? Absolutely. Am I going to have time to do that particular project? Probably not.

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