Minimalism: Like with Like

A basic tenant of minimalism is to put like with like. For example, if you are working on decluttering or downsizing the number of shoes you own, you should start by gathering all of your shoes together so that you can decide which pairs you are keeping and which pairs are leaving. 

Putting like with like sounds simple. It is deceiving. I’m not going to lie. Putting like with like is HARD. All these minimalism tips tell you to put like with like as if it was the easiest thing in the world to do. It’s not. 

Stuff is everywhere. Your belongings are spread out and scattered all over your living space. It’s supposed to be that way. Homes are meant to be lived in. So telling someone to put like with like may sound simple in theory, but is challenging in practice. Your home is lived in, and your stuff is everywhere. 

Putting like with like may be easier for some items that others. It all depends on the person and your lifestyle. For me, personally, putting all my shoes together was easy. I don’t have many pieces of footwear. They all tend to be in the same area of my house and not spread out. 

This winter when I engage on a major decluttering project of paperwork – that was hard. I have paperwork all over the house. There was paperwork in my office, my kitchen, and at least 2 other rooms in my house. Paperwork ranged from things like appliance manuals to insurance policies to car repair receipts. Stuff was everywhere.

I could have gone through piles of paperwork in each room. Essentially, that’s what I did first. Then, I put all of the paperwork together in one room. That was the hard part. Everything was spread out. As hard as it may be to put like with like, I’m glad I did. I now have my paperwork downsized to one milk crate of papers in one room. That is the extent of my paperwork. It is no longer spread out all over the house.

Having all the paperwork together not only makes it easier for me to find things, it makes it easier for someone else to find things if something happens to me. Have you ever had to go through a loved one’s paperwork after they died? The paperwork is everywhere. You go through piles of stuff trying to figure out what is what. It is a tedious task that no one wants to do after a loved one dies. 

I downsized my paperwork so that anything extraneous was shredded and all necessary papers are together and labeled into categories – medical, insurance, car, house, etc. If something happens to me, I have one milk crate of important papers for you to go through to settle my affairs and shred.

Homes are meant to be lived in. You should have all of your belongings spread out and put in places where they are being used. However, when you are trying to declutter, it is easiest if you can put like with like so that you can see just how much you have. You may say you want to downsize your coffee mugs. Then, when you put them all together and see you have 32 of them, you can set a goal – such as 6 coffee mugs – for downsizing. You need to put like with like to get the full scope of just how much you have. 

Like with like is not an easy task. However, if you can manage to put like with like, it will make the overall process of downsizing easier. Going with coffee mugs, once you donate the 26 mugs you are not using, by all means take the 6 coffee mugs you are keeping and put them wherever you need them. Spread them out. Homes are meant to be lived in.

It may sound like an easy premise, but like with like is actually challenging. Don’t be hard on yourself if you start trying to put like with like and find it difficult. Minimalism and decluttering is not an easy process, even if people like me make it sound easy. 

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