Roman Malanke

Why Not Accumulate Things

This is a continuation of my previous post, in which I shared the experience of making an exhaustive inventory of personal possessions. Now, as I promised, it’s time to explain the philosophical background behind this activity.

I first started thinking on this subject consciously on the day when I was moving out of my university dormitory. It was the end of the first well-defined period of my adult life — college years. And I remember very well the day I first entered my dorm room with a mid-size bag that contained clothes, shoes, tableware and the rest of things I needed for everyday life. Six years later, after packing the wardrobe, after collecting books from the shelves and after drawing numerous sacks from underneath the bed, I found myself having difficulties putting everything in a mid-size car. That made me feel obese in spite of my 60 kilos. I asked myself what it would be like if I decided to move at the age of 50? Would I need to rent a truck?

That was how the obvious realization came to me: people tend to accumulate things as they go through their lives. And at first it may seem logical: we add new hobbies, we develop new habits, so we get new things. But is it indeed so? Maybe we just substitute old hobbies with the new ones and develop new habits in place of the old ones? If you think of it, there’s finite amount of time we have every day, every month and every year. Which means that there’s only so much attention we can give to each thing. If we take on something new, we inevitably leave behind something old. And when we are leaving something behind the hardest is to part with the material thing. For example, it may have been years since I last played tennis, and I clearly have it very low on my priority list for the foreseeable future, but I still keep the racket under the bed, just in case. Also there I have a pair of dusty roller blades, a couple of worn-out footballs and several bags with who-knows-what. Does this sound familiar? Fortunately it’s no longer my case, as I now proactively manage my possessions and own only what I need and use. Let’s see how I do it on the example of my shoe wardrobe.

Following is the methodology I use:

  1. Analyze all the situations for which I need shoes and create a list of categories;
  2. Define requirements for all categories;
  3. Define required quantity for each category;
  4. Select brands that fit the requirements;
  5. Gradually build and maintain the inventory based on the “one in — one out” rule;
  6. Periodically review and adjust the list of categories.

My current inventory looks like this:

  1. Classic shoes. These are shoes worn for formal occasions with suit and tie. The main requirement is imposing look. Required quantity: 1 pair of boots and 1 pair of shoes. Brand: Tommy Hilfigher.
  2. Casual shoes. These are shoes worn to look good and to feel good. The main requirements are style and comfort. Required quantity: 1 pair in light color, 1 pair in dark color. Brand: Camper.
  3. Performance shoes. These are shoes made for walking. The main requirements are durability and comfort. Required quantity: 1 pair of boots, 1 pair of shoes, 1 pair of sandals. Brand: Ecco.
  4. Sport shoes. These are shoes made to enjoy favorite sports. The main requirements are comfort and durability. Required quantity: 1 pair of running shoes, 1 pair of football shoes. Brand: Nike.

This same approach I use for managing every other types of possessions, including clothes, gadgets, sport accessories, etc. And since implementing this system I have observed numerous benefits of having it, which could be nailed down to five main advantages:

  1. You don’t spend time on maintenance of what you don’t use.
  2. You increase quality of what you own by not increasing the quantity.
  3. You make better buying decisions with no impulse shopping.
  4. You become lightweight and easy to move.
  5. You help the poor and the planet.