I planned to write about Tiny Houses this time, but when I sat down with my laptop I noticed the show “Hoarder: Buried Alive” was on T.V. so I decided I needed to address paring down your possessions first and perhaps even touch on how to become a minimalist before moving into a smaller space. The website http://www.theminimalists.com/ addresses the concept of living with less and even challenges its readers to a 30-Day Minimalism Game in which you get rid of one non-consumable item the first day, 2 the second all the way up to 30 on the last day. Most of us could go for even longer without making a dent in our stuff. We don’t live by the K.I.S.S. acronym-Keep It Simple, Stupid.
I’ve moved 28 times and pared down to what I thought was the absolute minimal level of possessions twice. For a year I taught in Japan and lived as the people there do in a tiny studio apartment which with the help of the 100 Yen Store became cluttered, but homey. I wish I’d learned something from their culture, but I retained the hunting and gathering technique of my ancestors. I lived in a travel trailer for several months after my return and in two efficiency apartments before I bought my last partially furnished house. When I made my last move, I pared down again, taking just a few items of furniture. However, I managed to fill my new space and now need to get rid of at least some of the duplicate items, worn out or rarely worn clothes and the knick-knacks that clutter my shelves. Even though I’ve found ways to make it all fit, I feel it’s out of control and just plain messy. Just because I have found ways to store it out of sight, doesn’t mean I need it.
Here are a few tips I plan to employ that you might find helpful.
• 1 In-1 Out-This is just what it says. Every time you bring something non-consumable into your home, you must take something out either by selling, giving or throwing it away. Social media and other websites such as Craigslist and local buy, sell and swap sites allow you to sell or give away items without paying for an ad like eBay and newspapers. Some, such as eBay, Craigslist and http://www.decluttr.com/ have apps so you can stay up-to-date on your sales. Goodwill and other thrift stores are always looking for usable items. Just don’t go shopping while you’re there. A good deal isn’t always a smart deal.
Photo credit: JeepersMedia via VisualHunt.com / CC BY
• Keep Track of your Progress-This can be done with checks on a calendar or if you like apps, try the one for iPhones at https://konmari.com/app/. To find out when it’s available for androids, sign up for organizing consultant Marie Kondo’s newsletter at the same address. With this app besides being able to keep track of your progress, you can get help with decluttering and motivation tips from Marie and her readers.
• Declutter Flat Surfaces-Anything flat can be a convenient gathering place for clutter. When you walk through the door have a place to hang your coat and put down your keys and mail. If you don’t have a closet, then a hall table and hooks can do the job. Tables and counters are convenient junk collectors. Store groceries and other items in their proper place as soon as get home. If you don’t have enough cupboard space, find ways to corral items you use often. Open shelves, bins, and baskets work well. The last two keep items contained, but be sure to not go crazy with too many or you’ll lose things and waste a lot of time searching for them. Try keeping similar items like tools, kitchen utensils, and secretarial supplies in one place or area.
• Throw Away Disposable Items-Most things made of paper can be tossed after use or scanned if you need to keep them. Make sure you back up the items you can’t afford to lose to the cloud or an external hard drive. If you have an electronic device and internet access, you can find most recipes, bills, banking information and other things we used to keep in paper form online. Repurposing plastic containers may save you money, but don’t let your cupboards get filled with containers that aren’t microwave safe or those you don’t use often. Remember to recycle, if possible.
• Buy Multipurpose or Convertible Furniture-One of the greatest challenges of living in a smaller space is to get the most use out of your limited area after you’ve pared down your personal items. Convertible furniture can add additional seating and storage that fits into small places. Pinterest has numerous ideas and more are added every day that go way beyond using cabinets, trunks, and bins.
• Hang It Up-Utilizing vertical space can be a clever way to reduce clutter and creatively decorate. Narrow shelves hung on the inside doors of kitchen cabinets, cubbies under stairs and hooks on your wall can help you stow your stuff. A fishnet holds my favorite shells, souvenir magnets adorn my fridge and artwork and photos from my travels beautify my walls. Décor should be decorative and functional in your small space. Plants provide beauty, food and clean our air.
• Put your Shopping on a Diet-Just as you wouldn’t grocery shop on an empty stomach, window-shopping can be a sure path to clutter. When I shop for groceries I hit the perimeter where the staples are kept with strategic strikes into the aisles with other foods. So when shopping for other items only visit a store to buy something when you’ve already decided how it will be used and where it will fit into your home. Big box stores may be convenient, but the diverse inventory can lead to impulse purchases. If you find something you hadn’t planned on buying, think it over and compare prices online. It’ll most likely be there the next day if you believe you still have to have it.
• Let Go of Gifts and Family Mementos-This is a difficult choice. Keep only the special things that remind you of your family and friends. The ones that brought you happiness and pleasant memories. If they’ve passed away, you want a remembrance. You might want to pick one you can use so that with each use it brings back a pleasurable memory. Photos and videos can be stored on your computer. Reminder-Back them up. You carry family and friends around with you in your heart and you don’t always need a tangible reminder.
I’m going to play the 30-Day Minimalist game and I challenge you to join me. My first item will be an extra bin I’m just storing. Then I’ll start at my closet and work my way through my apartment. If it goes well, I may do it again as a New Year’s Resolution. Since I’ve put this down in writing, I believe I can accomplish my goal and lighten my load for the coming year.
If you have ideas on how to declutter your life, please share them here or on my Facebook page. You can access it through the icon at the top of this blog.
Continue the adventure!