The new year is a great time to resolve to get yourself in shape. But what about your home? When things are ordered and de-cluttered, your environment becomes functional, peaceful and enjoyable.
Recently my husband and I sold our house and gave away about 85% of our belongings. We did not have a financial hardship as our reason to do this. We simply wanted to downsize and start getting serious about our retirement savings. We are now renting an 852 square foot cottage. We had to be very selective about what made the move.
At first I was hesitant about “losing” my things. I put many of my special items in my mom’s basement, unable to part with them just yet. Here’s what I’ve learned: I don’t miss them, and I can’t even tell you what is in half those boxes. Therefore, come May, they are all going into the garage sale or to Goodwill.
So, how can the average person downsize and declutter without moving to a tiny cottage? Here are five ways that may work for you:
1. Look for “repeats.”
These are items you have more of than what you need. For example, coffee mugs. I literally had 27 mugs. How many mugs does a two-person family need?! I‘ve discovered that three is our magical number. Look at your baking dishes and cleaning items. What about holiday decorations? Do you store 30 boxes of decorations but only use 10? Give the others away! It’s amazing the things we keep that we “might need someday.” I’m here to tell you that you won’t miss it when it’s gone.
2. Get rid of “old stuff.”
These are the items that you have around the house that you might not even know you have since you haven’t used them in years. Look at your makeup bag, your medicine cabinet and your wardrobe. Are there items in there that can be recycled? I found a bottle of aspirin that expired three years earlier that was still taking up space in my cabinet, and plenty of clothes that I “am going to fit into again someday…”
3. Think SPACE!
When looking around at your actual living space, less is better. Try to declutter shelves and mantels. Select the best three items, the ones that have the most meaning to you, and take everything else down. Do you have 13 pictures from your kids on the fridge? Make a “frame” where you highlight the “best” artwork on a rotating basis. Your children will still feel their work is admired but it is contained and therefore not overwhelming.
4. Hide it, for now.
Making big changes about de-cluttering can be hard. We all have some really nice things that are hard to part with. So, if you aren’t ready to give your precious things away, at least box them up. Put them in the garage, basement or cellar. Then take out only the items that you truly miss or need to use. If, after six months, you haven’t touched the items in the boxes, give them away. You obviously don’t need them.
5. Adopt a new mantra.
My new mantra is “Everything I need, I have.” My new home has my big bed, my sauna, my husband and my three cats. What else do I need, really? When I focus on the things I have been blessed with (and I’ve discovered that the most precious things aren’t my things) then I am satisfied and I don’t need to buy a trinket to please me. So next time you want to buy that gorgeous, hand-crafted mug, think, “Everything I need, I already have.” Admire the mug, then put it back.
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