Living with Less


This time last year we were climbing threw boxes upon boxes of stuff we never used in our storage room. We knew moving in with family over 150 miles away meant we were going to be putting the majority of our things in storage. I remember looking into that room, and being overwhelmed by the amount of stuff we had. Let's be serious, I didn't even know what was in there! That's when we made the decision to downsize our belongings. We did it like we were ripping off a bandaid: so quick that we didn't feel the pain until it was all over. In the few weeks we had to pack everything up for the move, we were able to reduce what we owned by half. And. It. Felt. AMAZING!

Where to Start

Make a list! If you've read my other posts, you know I love to write stuff down. This is no exception. When we were moving I made a list of all of the major problem areas I needed to downsize - storage room, office files, clothes, kitchen stuff, etc. This made it easy to focus on one room at a time, and we could do it together as a team. That made it a lot less stressful, because I didn't have to worry about what my husband thought about this item or that item.

How We Did It

The one thing that really helped keep was to make piles, so I could visually see what it was going to keep, donate, and throw away. You could also have separate bags, boxes, or totes, too.

My goal was to never have the Keep pile be the largest one. This made it more of a short-term game for me. It also made me feel like I could stop whenever I needed to. So, instead of downsizing all my clothes, which is very overwhelming, I'd only focus on a couple drawers in my dresser at a time. A few minutes/hours/days later, I'd work on a couple more. Then, within a week I had gone through all of our clothes, and could check that off the list.

Since would only work on one room at a time, we’d try to only spend a few days on it and work on it together. If I wasn't sure if something was a Keep or Donate, I could ask Jay. Something that really helped us was if you picked it up, you had to decide what was going to happen to it. We didn't have a "I'll make a decision on that one later" pile. You made the decision then and there.

After we had everything separated into piles, we had to get rid of our Donate and Throw Away piles. We took the clothes and housewares to the GoodWill down the road from our house. For the car-sized throw away pile, we called 1-800-GOT-JUNK. For a small fee they came and loaded everything up from that pile. They sort through everything and determine what can be recycled or donated, and will dispose of the rest. Honestly, they were a life-saver, and I would recommend anyone who is doing a lot of downsizing gives them a call.

Ways to Maintain It

For me this process was addicting at first. Once the "newness" of it all wore off it got more and more difficult to keep it up. Now that we have cut our belongings by half, I do find myself forgetting to go through everything regularly. There are a few things I do throughout the year to help though.

Every winter I try to do a better job organizing our house, and take the time to go through our stuff again. I mean, if I'm going to be cooped up in the house, might as well be productive, right?! For example, I refolded all of our dresser clothes using the KonMari folding method. This meant I had to go through everything in the dressers, and you can bet your socks I found a couple bags worth of clothes to donate!

Also, you need to learn to tell friends and family "No Thanks" when they offer things that you don't really need, and ask yourself, "Do I really need this?" when you're shopping. I've found that this really helps reduce the number of "Misc." boxes we have stored away.

Now don't feel like I'm saying you can't treat yourself to something new. Instead, when new things come in, old stuff goes out. Your child got a dozen cool presents for their birthday? Well, happy birthday, kiddo! Now take the time to help them go through their toys and find at least a dozen toys they don't use anymore to donate to kids who would love to play with them. Maybe you're buying yourself three new shirts for work. Good for you! Now donate at least three that you don't wear anymore. I found this to be the best way to keep up with this process all year long!