[Weekender] The art of throwing away

By Ahn Sang-yool
  • Published : Mar 9, 2018 - 16:51
  • Updated : Mar 9, 2018 - 16:51
My tiny studio apartment found its ideal identity as “home” only after I removed all the unnecessary items.

It was at the school library where the idea of throwing away some of my personal belongings came across my mind. The book titled “Living with Less” by Mary Lambert, a decluttering and feng shui consultant in the UK, offered a way to create comfort by getting rid of excessive possessions at home.

As I wanted a fresh start for 2018, minimizing the clutter was the perfect shift. Decluttering the apartment seemed both liberating and fulfilling. Lambert first advises readers to choose a day with sufficient time such as the weekend. Rushing the process may result in an early exit from the challenge.

Creating an inventory of all personal possessions is the next step. Then readers can sort out 100 essential items to keep. The task is not as strict as it sounds as you are free to group a few possessions together.

But I was overwhelmed to find out that the difference in the number of what I have and need was far greater than I initially expected. 


Selecting what outfits to throw away was a major workout. The author of the book suggests that clothes make up 70 percent of personal possessions on average. The “challengers” are recommended to assess their fashion style for a week to get to know their preferences. Products outside the preferences can be removed.

It was no easy task to bid farewell to some personal items that bring pleasant memories, such as the uniform from the high school varsity tennis team I was a part of for three years. However, the feeling of attachment lingered only briefly until the possessions were shoved in the trash can.

Lambert says holding on to possessions for too long may prevent opportunities for new experiences by sequestering the person to the past.

My place used to get messy and uncomfortable a couple of days after a cleanup because everything stayed inside the room. This changed dramatically as soon as I disposed the “unchosen.”

I have also set a stricter guideline for buying products after realizing that a large portion of my possessions was from impulse purchases. The amount of free space expanded and remained unchanged.

As a result, the 13-square-meter apartment has become a haven of peace; I start the day with a fresh feeling and end it with relaxation.

In addition, the change has improved productivity and efficiency. I no longer kick my blender on the ground in the morning because it is gone, and I no longer have to go through a big pile of articles to find nail clippers.

The art of throwing away lies in creating the best atmosphere for the owner in addition to the obvious aesthetic pleasure. If one can maintain a set number of items at home, any accommodation can prove itself valuable. As Leo Babauta, the creator of the world-renowned minimalism blog Zen Habits, said, “By choosing the essential, we create great impact with minimal resources. Always choose the essential to maximize your time and energy.”

By Ahn Sang-yool (