How to downsize your stuff and simplify your life

Posted on Oct. 22, 2015 by in Living

Don’t be a hoarder! Simplify your life

We may not like to admit it, but most of us have too much stuff hanging around our homes. There’s a fine line between curating a beloved collection and hoarding all your possessions. If you want to eliminate the clutter culprits, here are some excellent tips to help you conquer your pack rat tendencies.

Don't get overwhelmed, just get going

If you're drowning in mountains of excess stuff and don't know where to start, the idea of a full scale clean-up effort tends to feel daunting. But putting off the problem won't make those piles disappear. Waiting for “the right day” to start is a mistake, because even when that day comes, it's easy to find another excuse to avoid the job. So just get going, one small step at a time. Even if you can't tackle the whole job all at once, try getting rid of a few things, say an old pair of shoes or a shelf of books. Build up slowly if you have to: eliminate one item on your first day, two on the second, three on the third, and so on until you're making a daily dent in the mess.

Sort and categorize your stuff

Another way to make the job easier is to break down the clean-up into bite-sized chunks. Room by room, closet by closet, shelf by shelf, work your way through all your possessions. Try grouping things together for easier organizing. That way, you can cull your book collection, sort out your sporting equipment, and donate gently used clothes in separate steps. Consider each item and put it into one of 4 piles: Keep, store, trash and sell/share. Donate unwanted items to a local charity organization, or earn some extra cash by finding a buyer online.

Memories mean more than mementos

Items of personal value are often tough to give up because we associate them with positive moments from our past. Ultimately, however, all those things are just reminders, nothing more. Sure, they're rich in sentimental value, but the hard truth is that they're generally useless. Getting rid of that medal you won in high school, or the souvenir you picked up on a long-ago ski trip, isn't going to erase your special memories of the experience or the event itself. It's the memories that really matter.

There's no denying it can feel like a sacrifice to say goodbye to a special item you've held onto for years. But once it's gone you’ll find a certain amount of liberation too. The freedom that comes with lightening your load makes every future decision on whether to get rid of a personal item easier and easier. If you really want to see something again, take a digital photo of it. That way, instead of a bulky box of bygone objects, your memories can be kept alive in a pile of pixels that don't take up any space at all.

Get objective about your objects

Sometimes, an objective viewpoint helps us see how certain items don't have a place in our home. Try asking a friend to help sort through some stuff, and invite their input. Being told how impractical or unnecessary an item seems to someone else might be what you need to hear. If you're working alone, imagine that you're sorting through someone else's stuff, not your own. Looking at everything through a dispassionate pair of eyes will simplify the decision on whether to toss or keep.

Stick to impersonal items if you're struggling

Some of the stuff we keep has no sentimental value at all. If you're really struggling to relinquish piles of personal heirlooms, try cleaning out your kitchen, bathroom or garage instead. Old bottles of shampoo, extra snow shovels, and those plates that never get used can all be cast off without worry.

Got tips for downsizing your stuff? Share them with us.