#Unclutter2017: The Power of 5


A conversation on Instagram last week prompted me to share my growing realisation that 5 is a powerful and useful number for those looking to ‘right size’ their possessions.

Here are a few examples:


I have 5 pairs of shoes in my winter wardrobe:

  • Black work court shoes with a heel
  • Grey casual lace-ups
  • Reebok trainers
  • Knee-high boots
  • Walking shoes

In summer, I trade court shoes for ballet pumps and flip-flops and sandals for lace-ups.

Living in a climate where it’s perfectly possible to enjoy temperatures in the teens one day and below zero the next, it’s useful to have a variety of shoes for all weathers and situations. These shoes cater for all types of events and I simply don’t need any more.

Cookery books

Having cut down the number of cookery books I own, I also realise that I’m nearing my perfect five, as there are six books remaining in the kitchen. There’s just one book on the shelf about which I’m still unsure. I use a small number of its recipes very occasionally but these might be better scanned and saved, so that I can pass the book onto someone who’ll appreciate it more. The remaining few have now been resigned to the “box that will go to the second-hand bookstore”. If I don’t open the box for 30 days, out it will go!

Bags – from small to large

I have one tiny cross-body bag for when I only need to carry my keys, my small purse and my phone. Next size up is a neat, black messenger bag that I use daily. The largest handbag I own is a Dune tote that has seen better days (but I won’t buy a replacement until I have the perfect one!). Next comes a Cath Kidston floral shopper in a wipeable vinyl fabric, followed by a soft brown bowling bag that’s neat enough to carry as hand luggage and perfect for a few days away. And that’s it. And there you have another 5…

The list goes on, but it may be that this handful of examples provides a guide for when you’re asking the question, “What’s the right number?” Answer? Gimme 5!!

Do you have a perfect number of a particular item? Can you count the number of possessions in a particular category on one hand?


4 thoughts on “#Unclutter2017: The Power of 5

  1. Love this concept. Five won’t be the right number for everyone, but everyone should discover the right number for them.
    A rule of thumb I use for bed linen, towels and the like is one set in use, one set in the wash and one ready to go in the cupboard. This was also great for working out how many baby clothes I needed – number of changes per day x 3.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very interesting article! It made me think about the number of cookery books I own. Like you, I only use recipes from a small number of them. I also have lots of recipes that I’ve cut out from magazines. Some of these are in binders and some aren’t. It’s time to have a look through and get rid of those I’ll never use…and to get rid of the cookery books I never consult. Thanks for the inspiration!


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