The back-of-the-cupboard test

6 Jun 2018


I remember the moment when I began to look at my belongings differently and when my own decluttering journey really started.


I was moving house again. In the back corner of my wardrobe shelf I found a plastic storage tub pushed far back in the corner. I opened it to find that it was mostly full of diaries from my teenage years and early twenties.  I flicked through a couple of the diaries, had a giggle at some of the embarrassing things that I used to write about, replaced the lid and put the tub in the pile with the rest of my stuff to move.


Then it dawned on me. I was about to move this box to the next house and stick it in a cupboard somewhere until, in reality, the next time I needed to move house. All of a sudden I realised “why am I carrying this box from house to house, only to place it in a cupboard and never look at it”.


 Immediately, I pulled out all the diaries, ripped out any pages with personal information, walked outside and threw them ALL in the recycling bin! And you know what? I felt a strange rush of adrenaline. Then, an immediate feeling of relief and lightness. It is hard to describe. It felt like I was letting go of that emotional period of my life that was no longer serving me any purpose.


I have always been tidy and organised and prior to this moment I regularly tried to declutter. However, I would let go of bits and pieces here and there but it felt like I never really got anywhere.  You have probably experienced a similar feeling when you go through a drawer or cupboard and declutter as much as you can but when you look at your drawer or cupboard afterward, it still looks almost the same as before! Well I walked back into the house with an empty storage bin! It was very noticeable!!


The ‘high’ that I felt that day was incredibly powerful. I started to seek out that feeling and test myself on letting go. It suddenly became a lot easier to go through my belongings and decide if I really wanted to keep them.


I call this the back-of-the-cupboard test. Next time you are doing some decluttering, ask yourself, is this going to sit at the back of the cupboard in every house I live? Of course, I keep things that have a practical use and I still keep some childhood mementos. However, I find this test really helps me to distinguish what I really want to keep.


So, tell me, what's in the back of your cupboard? Do you ever look at it? Does it have a function? What purpose does it serve sitting at the back of the cupboard?


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Melbourne Australia