The March of Trash Spotlight Scorecard, which you can download from the March of Trash challenge page, invites you to examine your possessions one by one, as if you had a spotlight that you could shine on one possession at a time. The scorecard is particularly relevant for the possessions that you haven’t been using. Anything you have that you don’t use is clutter, but different things can be clutter for different reasons. A video cassette recorder, to cite one example from my own house last year, can become clutter because it is obsolete technology, because it no longer works, or just because you’ve forgotten you had it. Maybe all these reasons apply. On the scorecard, you can check off the difference between one kind of clutter and another.
Clutter also forms categories according to what you do with it. Most should be thrown away, but a working video cassette recorder, for example, can be given away or sold. One that is not working can be recycled or repaired, depending on the condition it is in and how likely you are to use it after it works again. The scorecard lists most of the common destinations for clutter you’ve identified. Pick the destination that minimizes your cost and effort while find what value there might be in the item.
Using a scorecard encourages you to evaluate each item in the same way. Having a method that you apply encourages you to make consistent decisions about your stuff, ensuring that you are getting rid of the least useful things you have.
The name Spotlight Scorecard also serves as a reminder of the perils of the Spotlight Effect. When you pick something out and focus your attention on it, that makes it seem more valuable than the things around it. Just remember that this is an illusion, and the same effect will make the next item seem to take on extra value when you turn your attention to it. The Spotlight Effect cuts both ways; the “valuable” clutter in the spotlight will be forgotten again almost as soon as the spotlight moves on.
The March of Trash challenge this year is to fill out a scorecard for at least 30 items, an easily manageable pace of one item per day for the rest of the month. That’s not a lot of clutter, but it is enough to notice the difference, and it is a large enough exercise to create the clutter-busting habit.