What happened when I walked away from all my stuff (and my apartment)

What happened when I walked away from all my stuff (and my apartment)

My friend once told me about a man who owned just one suit, a couple of pairs of pants and basically had a very scant wardrobe. I gawked at the idea. It seemed so inconceivable. How could he get by like that?


Well I found out firsthand when our apartment became uninhabitable due to mold and we had to leave everything behind. I learned how to live with just the bare minimum. At first it was stressful. I had to find ways to cook and clean with just what we could scrape together when we were living in a temporary sparsely furnished apartment. But I got around it and realized I didn’t need all the extra stuff. And the best benefit of it was that I felt oddly calm and more focused – especially in the morning. I felt liberated not being around so much stuff. My mood improved. I felt happier.

And that may seem drastic to you but here’s the thing. Everyone has their own approach, style and definition of what the outer order of your home should be and look like. That’s exactly what Gretchen Rubin stresses in her book Outer Order Inner Calm: Declutter and Organize to Make More Room for Happiness.

You look at clutter differently than the next person. One person’s pile of mail on the kitchen countertop may be in perfect order, but to another utter chaos. Go with what works for you. Rubin offers over 120 doable approaches to decluttering you can freely choose, based on you and your situation. That’s what’s so refreshing about her advice – you can be you. You don’t have to force yourself into following a long, dark, and narrow approach.

Personally I loved her ideas on:


– You don’t need an army of cleaning agents. You CAN get stains out with just soap and water. Amen to that! I now only use a few products for cleaning.

– Start cleaning if you can’t find something (it works for me every time I can’t find a pen, my keys or smartphone).

– “The ten minute closer” I love, love, love it! Before I head to sleep, I take Rubin’s advice to tidy up, wipe the counter tops, put shoes, clothes, etc. away, and anything else that needs to be put back in its proper place. I have a tendency to leave the kitchen cabinet doors open too. It feels great to walk into a nice, clean, clutter free setting each morning. (It takes me even less than 10 minutes now because I’ve gotten rid of the excess clutter already)


Whether you’re just starting to declutter your home or somewhere along the journey, Rubin lays out useful advice on decluttering and how to make it work in the long run. If you haven’t started yet or are feeling