Decluttering with Astrid (12)

This week Astrid talks numbers. Each Tuesday, she writes about decluttering. 

I’m going to talk about something very serious: numbers. I’ve discovered that people who have engaged in minimalism and living a simpler life have a huge fascination with numbers. And before you dismiss this, I’d like to say that I’m not the only one who has noticed this. I’m reading a book by James Wallman, called Stuffocation. Wallman is a journalist for The New York Times and wants to show us why having things no longer makes people happy. He says that minimalists are really obsessed with numbers, and it’s this obsession that has sparked all those clean-up projects which revolve around numbers.

These include Courtney Carver’s Project 333, in which the aim is to wear just 33 items from your wardrobe (including shoes and necklaces) for three months. Apparently, it helps you understand how you can get by just fine with less. I know there are a lot of fans of this project, but personally, I’ve never quite been able to understand it. What do you do after those three months for example? And why the number 33?

Tammy Strobel (author of You Can Buy Happiness) is also a numbers’ fetishist. When she started her decluttering, she limited herself to just having 69 things to live with. Her list included a toothbrush, camera, laptop, three pairs of shoes and four rings.

And then there’s David Bruno. He invented The 100 Thing Challenge, which revolves around – yes, you guessed it – going through life with just 100 personal possessions. But Bruno’s rules are a little dubious to say the least because one of the things on his list is a bookcase (with books and all).

I have to say, I’m not such a great fan of this whole numbers lark. It becomes a kind of game, based on how little you can get by with. As if you were having to go to live in a convent. To be honest, I find it quite antisocial and not genuine – decluttering isn’t really about that. But there you go. I’m much more of a “moderates” type of girl. Rigid rules have never worked for me, but for others, such a magic number may well be the solution.

There is one number, however, that I do like. When I was younger, I used to work as a home help during my holidays, and I would go to the fabulous homes of elderly couples, where time had stood still and where the number two was king (or queen, if you prefer). To me, that was the best part of the job: it was like I had stepped into a time machine and ended up in houses of bygone days. And what struck me the most was how there was two of everything, from shoes and hats to tablecloths and tableware: one was for weekdays and one was for Sundays. Each of the two versions was well cared for, too; if something broke, it was replaced. And so, I find it a really lovely number. As well as another great starting point for decluttering. Just two: one for special times, one for everyday. Simple as that.