Decluttering by Identities

Decluttering is a great way to start the new year. Detoxing your home and getting rid of items that weigh you down can be really refreshing and allow you to be more productive in other areas. Whilst this sounds easy, most people will often find they start to clean out old things and find themselves slowing down to reminisce or rediscover items they forgot they had, which can often lead into a ‘I might use that in the future’ mentality.

Navigating this mindset can be hard, but Lisa Bronner has come up with a fool proof way to make sure you don’t find yourself sitting amongst the same unwanted items next year.

She says “Whilst decluttering I experienced a sudden moment of clarity.  I opened familiar drawers, and instead of seeing familiar stuff, I found identities I have had in the past. Identities I thought I wanted to have in the future. Identities I feel I ought to have now, but don’t. Over time, I realised had collected a lot of supplies for these mostly-idle identities. This idea of identifying identities gave me a strong framework to apply to the objects in my house. “Is this item part of who I am today, or will it be part of my certain future?” If not, out it goes”

Making a list of these identities can not only be beneficial for your home, but also your mindset. Choosing one hobby or exercise can help streamline your thinking so you don’t overwhelm yourself with trying new things, or carrying on with something you don’t actually enjoy anymore. Here are some of the identities Lisa applied to herself:

  • I am a feeder of a family. (Keep the useful cooking gear, spices, cookbooks.)
  • I am a doer of laundry. (Keep the baskets, drying rack, cleaners.)
  • I am a maker of lemon marmalade. (Keep the canning gear.)


  • I am not a repairer of electric trains. (Out goes the broken train, idyllic though it sounds.)
  • I am not a reader of books about English Renaissance or the Reformation. (I was once, I enjoyed it, but not for the past 20 years.)
  • I am not a maker of from-scratch pasta. (Out go the two never-used pasta makers.)

Before setting out on your decluttering journey, perhaps take the time to write down your identities, and refer to the list when you’re unsure about throwing away an item.

Remember also that just because you may not relate to a certain identity anymore, there are plenty of people out there who will, so gifting items to willing friends or charity is a great way to ensure your items have a new lease of life.