Are you paying monthly fees for storage space elsewhere to hold your extra belongings that don’t fit in your home? Have your vehicles lost their home in your garage to stacks of storage boxes? Have you filled a bedroom with dressers and bedside tables that are full to the brim? Ever buy a handsome bookcase to display a few tchotchkes only to awaken one morning to discover they’ve multiplied? Our family certainly has been through seasons where we’ve had to shift things around and take up more space that we’d like to, but it’s a good idea to let go not only of items but also the storage space that’s not serving a good and timely purpose.
I’ve chosen to hold on to my preserved wedding gown, some of the kids’ keepsakes, and a few photo albums, but we recently were able to free up additional space in our home and garage before moving by thinning out our holiday decorations and other stored items.
After you’ve released the obviously unnecessary items, turn your attention towards making these tweaks to improve your home environment:
- In bathrooms, keep only the essentials (toothbrushes and soap) on counter tops, and the rest can go in the nearest drawer or cabinet. Make it a family habit to put all toiletries away after getting ready in the morning.
- Bedside tables can be a real problem. I have to intentionally make sure mine doesn’t become a place I tuck away anything in our bedroom I am too lazy to put away – like medication, papers, or books I read and should re-shelf.
“Many wealthy people are little more than the janitors of their possessions.”
– Frank Lloyd Wright
Consider selling your non-essential side tables, dressers, and other furniture or consoles. After we did this, the money we made went into savings and I have less to vacuum around and dust off! The kids were excited to see some of the pieces go, because it created more floor space for them in an area where we play board games.
Take a minute and walk through your home in your mind. Are there any unnecessary furniture items?
While you’re taking stock of your home, consider these other coaching questions to help you process the amount of things you might be unnecessarily taking care of these days:
- Have you ever wanted to have people over but couldn’t because the house is a mess? I’ve certainly been in that situation (especially when my kids were toddlers), but I was so buried in stuff that I didn’t realize I could change things if I really wanted to. Even when I had designated places for my kids toys, the storage was rarely used. The American dream seems to be increasingly bigger homes, and yet bigger homes mean more work. If you do live in a sizable home, keeping an intentional check on not bringing in extra things can make it quite manageable, thankfully.
- Ask yourself if you’re willing to live in smaller square footage for the sake of your value of sharing your home with others. Otherwise you might continually be in the middle of a value conflict, torn between using all that energy and feeling grouchy to get the house back in order and sharing a meal or cup of coffee with friends in your living room. I’d guess that seven out of ten times stuff wins out.
- Face the facts: even if we buy a bunch of baskets or bins to hold all the kids’ toys and our craft materials, there’s likely still too much of it. Can you bear sticking it up in the attic for a month to see how many times you have the need for it? Schedule a reminder on your phone, and if you’ve not needed it in 30 days’ time, move it from the attic to the recycling bin or to your car’s trunk to donate.
- My mantra over time has become more stuff = less peace in my home. When I purchase something that won’t be used up in a relatively short amount of time (unlike food or toiletries), I try to get an item out of the home to maintain the peace. Needing more storage feels like I’m trapped by belongings. Who really wants their stuff taking charge of life?
- Storage space in a home is similar to bags, luggage, or purses – the more space we have in them, the more we naturally fill them up.
- Could your garage use a make under? Invest the time in creating a simply organized garage instead of filling it to the brim with items you rarely use.
- My kids’ crafting items can get out of hand really quickly, especially after a birthday or holiday when they’re given new tools or kits. We have room for 6 plastic storage shoe boxes in the book closet, so they’ve chosen the items they love to use most and distributed them among the 6 boxes. The construction paper and larger supplies are stacked underneath the boxes, within the kids’ reach. The best part? When they run out of something, we can put it on a list of items to ask for when the next holiday comes up.
- Know that no one will force you to live in a tiny house. I happen to be living in my largest home ever at this point in life. But we are committed to not filling up the space that’s unused right now. It requires care, however, as having extra storage around can lead to stockpiling.
- Just in case usually means just a waste. Is there anything you’re holding on to just in case you might need it?
- In Western culture, we love to abide by the unwritten law of “more is better”. To keep up, many of us build larger closets and rent storage units to hold our stuff. Would minimizing your wardrobe free up mental energy every day that’s best put to use on other decision?
Would you like some help in your battle against storage? I’d love to work with you. Take a look at my client services page.