I've had steady success in my on-again, off-again campaign to reduce the clutter in my life. Some weeks I've taken on the project with enthusiasm, other weeks I've slacked off. But over the past few years I've reached a point where I can now find things more easily, and straightening the house is a less daunting task.
Now I'm ready to take it to the next level. I'm starting two parallel lists to help me decide which possessions I need, and which things just add to the clutter and distraction in my life.
The first is an inventory of everything I own. This will make it possible to identify duplicate and seldom used items. In the interest of reducing paper clutter. I'm going to tackle one type of item per week. This is clothing week. Today my project is to pull out and sort every item of clothing from my closets and drawers and add each item I decide to keep to an inventory spreadsheet. As I sort I'll fill a rag bag (for worn out clothing that can be cut up and used as cleaning cloth) and a donation box (for seldom worn items in good shape).
The second list I'm going to keep is of things I need to function comfortably and efficiently. Starting with a blank slate will make it easier to prioritize the objects that are really important. This list forces me to decide what I need to maintain a good quality of life.
For example, how many pairs of pants do I really need? This question, which may seem picky to the point of OCD, has consequences for the arrangement of my closet, and for working out my laundry schedule. I need to have enough clothing that I don't run out between laundry days. My goal is to own enough clothing in all categories that I have one load of machine washable dark clothes every week, and one load of light clothing at a slightly longer interval. My tentative guess is that four pairs of casual slacks, and three pairs of dressier pants, should suffice.
Creating an inventory of both things I already have, and a list of things I minimally need to live well, will put me on solid footing as I move to the next phase of simplifying my life. Things are going well with this project overall, and I look forward to making my life even less cluttered.