Ghalimi scale

The Ghalimi scale is a measure of how many things you own, according to the Reduce, Rent, Refine principles. This is a logarithmic scale, for which the lower the value is, the better it is. If you own 47 items or less, your measure on the scale is 1. If you own 76 or less, it is 2. At 123 items or less, 3. At 199 items or less, 4. And so on until 3,571 items or more, at which point your measure is 10.

  • 1 — 47 items or less
  • 2 — 76 items or less
  • 3 — 123 items or less
  • 4 — 199 items or less
  • 5 — 322 items or less
  • 6 — 521 items or less
  • 7 — 843 items or less
  • 8 — 1,364 items or less
  • 9 — 2,207 items or less
  • 10 — 3,571 items, more or less

Here is the formula I used to compute these numbers:

c = φ g + 7

In this simple formula, c is the total count of the items your own. φ is the golden ratio (≈1.618033988), which I picked because I was looking for an exponential basis around 1.6 that would give me a gentle progression between a few dozen items to a few thousand. And g is the level on the Ghalimi scale.

From there, I added an offset of 7, so that any count below 50 or so would return a level of 1. The rationale behind this offset is that it is unlikely that anyone could lead a productive life in our modern societies while owning much less than 50 items (47 on my scale).

Diogenes of Sinope owned only three items: a clay wine jar, a robe, and a stick. If my scale were to be followed, a modern-day Diogenes would own 47, and I can’t wait to meet this refined individual.

Once you have counted all the items that you own, you can lookup your score on the table above, or you can use this reverse formula, while rounding results to the nearest integer:

g = Log(c) / Log(φ) - 7

Today, I completed the inventory of all the things that I own or plan to acquire soon. What is my count? 243 items. That puts me below the 322 mark, which means that my measure on the scale is 5.

To come up with that number, I followed these fairly simple rules:

  • A pair of shoes counts for 1, because they can’t be used separately.
  • A small kit like an emergency kit or a sewing kit counts for 1.
  • A case that came with an item is not counted (e.g. shaver case).
  • A charger that came with an item is not counted (e.g. phone).
  • Consumable supplies like cosmetics or food are not counted.

On my inventory, I indicated the container for each of the items that I own. My goal is to fit everything beside my bicycle and hanged pieces of clothing (8 of them) within a Gerstner tool chest. And all these things (including the bicycle and the clothes) should fit within 2 cubic meters, while occupying only 1 square meter of floor space. More than ever, less is more.

In this inventory, every item is tagged with a status:

  • Owned means that I currently own the item and like it
  • Refined means that I own the item but plan to refine it
  • Considered means that I do not own the item yet

I also indicated which model of the item I am currently owning, or planning to acquire within the foreseeable future. This curated list is by no means a recommendation of what one should buy. Instead, it is a way for me to reference the best item that I could find to address a need that I have, within the limits of my financial means.

At 243 items, I can reasonably aspire to get to the next level, by getting rid of 44 items. Beyond that point, I don’t think I’ll be able to get down to 123 items, unless I become totally sedentary, which is definitely not something that I aspire to. Therefore, the challenge would be for me to stay at or below 199 items as my needs evolve and my financial resources improve over time (hopefully).

I can’t tell you how good I feel right now…

Update: I am now at Level 3

Check less.best for implementing the approach.


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