Take 5, drop 2

A few years ago, when we were moving out of our old place, there was this whole process of “decompressing” all our junk out of the numerous storage spaces in the apartment to sort, cull and pack in preparation of moving.

It was during this time, all kinds of things begin to emerge from the deep recesses of one’s hoarding stash. More nail clippers than the fingers on a hand, old kitchen implements we hadn’t used from when we’d last moved, etc.

It was then I came up with a strategy: “take 5, drop 2”.

Here’s an example of how it works. Back then, we had more tea towels than we needed and wanted to keep. So for every 5 tea towels, pick 3 to keep, and 2 to either give away, sell, or do whatever else. Then, there were too many old plastic cups that we’d hardly used since the previous move – for every 5, keep 3, drop 2; and repeat to taste. It even comes with a nice little mind-trick “at least I get to keep more than half”*.

Take 5, drop 2.

Since then, it kind of stuck, and permeated through other aspects of my life. Overloaded with too many equally^ important priorities? Take 5, drop 2 for another day. Boxing day sale deals too numerous to fit your budget, take 5, drop 2. Have a decision weighing in on multiple stakeholders? Take 5, drop 2.

It is an acknowledgement that we’re not going to get it spot-on every time, that perfection can wait another day, and it’s ok. Its effectiveness goes on to betray the fact that a lot of the “issues” that we face are, in reality, mere First World Problems.


* Strictly speaking, this is not true if you perform the process more than once.
^ It’s very important that the 5 elements are of equal, or very similar priorities. Ignore at your own peril.