One reason paddleboarding is so popular is because it meshes so well with our hustle bustle lives. SUP, for the most part, is what I call a grab-and-go sport, like trail running and road cycling. You can do it just about anywhere at a moment’s notice if you already have a board and the gear. But how can we apply this streamlined approach to all our pursuits—paddling and otherwise? An Italian economist is the unlikely source of some great ideas about how to declutter your garage, gear closet and life.

How to declutter your gear closet—and your life

My neighbor keeps track of how much his car costs him per month. He spreadsheets fuel mileage and repair costs. He uses this data to project how long it will be before repair bills and failing fuel economy dictate financial prudence and replacing his Yaris with a newer model. Based on his projections, he then starts squirrelling away cash so when the day comes he has accumulated enough to cover the full purchase price. He is a freak of economics and likely the only one in the country who does this.

SUP is what I call a grab-and-go sport. You can do it just about anywhere at a moment’s notice.

For the rest of us, it’s unlikely when the time comes to buy a new truck or upgrade to a carbon race board we’ll have a chubby piggy bank to take to market. No sir, we’ll up and drive to the car dealership and choose a model offering a low interest rate and manageable monthly payments. While a few paddlesports dealers arrange financing it is certainly not the norm. So if a new board strikes your fancy, please allow me to offer some helpful financial advice along the lines of Pareto’s Principle.

Refocusing on what matters in 3, 2, 1. | Feature photo: Cory Leis

While Vilfredo Pareto didn’t own a paddleboard, one could assume the 1890s Italian economist probably spent some time standing and paddling the canals of Venice. Pareto is famous for observing 80 percent of income in Italy was received by only 20 percent of the Italian population. With the help of a management consultant Joseph M. Juran, Pareto’s Principle has evolved into what is now simply called the 80:20 Rule.

In business, 80 percent of income often comes from 20 percent of clients. Farmers get 80 percent of their pumpkin yields from 20 percent of their seeds. You get the idea. This popular financial management tool is also the war cry of personal life coaches marching us toward simplicity.

Putting Pareto’s Principle into action

When I realized I get 80 percent of my fun from 20 percent of my stuff, Pareto and I started cleaning house. Hello Craigslist. Goodbye snowboard. Goodbye lead climbing rack. So long, dirt bike. I sold off 80 percent of my seldom-used things and took this money and reinvested it in the 20 percent of the activities I enjoy more, and more often.

I decluttered my gear closets, my garage and my life. Now I feel less guilt and I enjoy what is left because I’m using these things more. Because I’m paddling more often I’m in better shape, and my skills and confidence are higher. And I’m happier because I’m spending more time surrounded by enthusiastic people who are having as much fun as I am.

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So, here’s my advice to you. Make a list of the perfect boards and equipment that will make your dreams come true. Then make a second list of everything you can eliminate from your home, garage and your life so you have the time and money you need to live those dreams.

Paddling Magazine Issue 65 | Fall 2021

This article originally appeared in Paddling Magazine Issue 65. Subscribe to Paddling Magazine’s print and digital editions here, or download the Paddling Magazine app and browse the digital archives here.


Refocusing on what matters in 3, 2, 1. | Feature photo: Cory Leis



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