What you’re looking at above is an actual photograph of the storage room I rented earlier this summer. Under all of those boxes, there’s also several pieces of furniture, including desks, a dresser, a bar, and more. This picture is a messier than normal, because I’d recently been going through many of the boxes – but there’s a larger point:
When I had to rent this room, I realized how much of an issue I had with stuff and how far away from the simple life I truly was.
Since then, I’ve been working to change my life and my relationship with things. The most surprising part of all is how emotional of a journey this trip has been. I’m constantly shocked at how sentimental I am about things. There were a few bits of wisdom I ran across that really helped to keep reflecting on during the process:
You can love a person without loving or having to keep the things that they’ve given you.
Really you only need one things for each person living in a place, plus two extra. So if there are two people living together, four towels, four plates, four glasses, etc., should be more than enough.
Things other people had given me made up a large part of the clutter that had accumulated, and realizing that my relationship to that stuff had nothing to do with my relationship to those people was a huge help.
I don’t think I’ve quite gotten anything down to only four of a particular thing, but keeping that goal in mind did help in going from about 25 wine glasses to a more reasonable 8. But the rule makes sense. If you only have four plates, dirty dishes are never going to stack up, because you have to wash everything immediately if you’re going to eat your next meal off of them!
Here are few quick tips for thinking about how to simplify your life:
This one is the most fun because it offers the most reward!
- Some of the higher value items I listed on eBay. This isn’t my favorite method, but it did come in handy.
- Books: As I’ve mentioned before, books are a particular weakness of mine, and I collected many over the years. I was able to sell some through places like Amazon, and PaperBackSwap some others. I would really still like to one day set up a Little Free Library!
- In addition to books, I also had a great deal of success selling old video games that I no longer play.
- Consider having a yard or garage sale. This is a great way to sell all of the random stuff that doesn’t really make sense to put on Amazon or eBay. Encourage people to buy in bulk by offering or accepting discounts. I was able to sell almost everything I put out at my sale.
Consider donating some of your items to local thrift stores – many times they are associated with charities that are raising money, and you can also use these donations for tax deductions if you itemize your deductions.
One word of caution here: make sure you research the organization you’re donating to, as not all are created equal. There are some truly inspiring charities out there, but others have been known to push agendas that you may not approve.
Some stuff just isn’t worth selling or donating. It’s the literal junk that tends to accumulate in our lives, and I think somehow this one can feel the best to get rid of! It’s extremely freeing to be able to recognize something as worthless as it really is. Just going through my drawer of pens and throwing out all of the ones that no longer worked felt awesome! Apply this to as many types of things as you can.
The most emotionally difficult group of things for me to deal with was personal memories and papers. These included things like notes from friends and family members, cards, and even awards dating as far back as elementary school. Some of these things I’ve slowly cleaned out over the years, but I was left with large boxes of stuff dedicated just to this.
For me, this was truly the “advanced” simplifying course. Even though I didn’t need any of this stuff, and rarely, if ever, looked at it, I still found it heartbreaking to attempt to get rid of.
What I finally settled on was digitizing as much of it as possible and storing it on my time capsule, and then getting rid of the original. This was still painful, but just knowing that it will exist somewhere, even if it’s just digital, helped ease the transition. I used a PanDigital Scanner to pretty quickly do the job for most of the papers:
Do you have any tips to add for simplifying life and decreasing clutter?