As someone who’s lived in three different countries in the last three years, I’ve learned, out of necessity, to figuratively and literally streamline my stuff.
And I have a pair of denim hot pants to thank.
When I was moving to New York in 2017, I packed a pair of ‘70s style high-waisted Topshop hot pants I’d had since about 2009. This decision was unwise for a number of reasons; for starters they didn’t fit; secondly, I didn’t take into account that I would be spending the next year munching my way around Manhattan, indulging in the delights of the 24-hour McDonald’s on my doorstep along with my penchant for pizza.
So when I was moving back to Dublin in 2018 and packing up all my worldly possessions, I wondered, Carrie Bradshaw style, did I really need to get back into a pair of teeny denim hot pants I had worn with wild abandon in my mid-20s to prove something to myself? The answer reader is no, so I chucked them in the give-to-charity pile, and immediately congratulated myself on letting go of the idea that my life would be better if I could squeeze myself into a tiny pair of shorts from 10 years ago.
Since then, I’ve gone from being the kind of hoarder who used to hang onto tickets to the cinema, school notebooks from when I was 14, and clothes that don’t fit (and all the body-image baggage that comes with them), to a cut-throat clutterphobe, which is why I love the idea of Swedish death cleaning.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love a knick-knack, and continue to save thousands of pictures of things I want to buy on Instagram, but the concept behind "döstädning" (death cleaning in Swedish) is all about streamlining your space and getting rid of the things that are preventing you from living your best life.
Based around the principle of making it easier for your loved ones to sift through your belongings after you die, it is, admittedly, a bit grim on the face of it, but being organised rather than morbid is at Swedish death cleaning’s core, and the best bit? You get to enjoy the benefits immediately.
If you’re busy embracing 2020 and are bursting with resolutions designed to make your personal and professional life better, the idea of planning for your untimely death might fill you with abject horror, but it also might give you the kick you need to ask yourself the all-important question, “do I really need this?”
And if the answer is no, it’s best to get rid of it now, once and for all. I promise, you won’t regret it.