It’s often said that knowing how to minimize belongings is difficult. For some people letting go of items is the hard part, and others struggle with being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work that can be involved in the process.
You’ll often hear people suggest making one big sweep to toss 50% or more of what you own. I’ve done that. I’ve actually done more than that before. In 2007 our family moved overseas for a few years and funded the initiative by having an estate sale to sell nearly all we owned: a 2,500 sq. foot home full of items and a minivan. Nearly all of our belongings were tagged and sold in the matter of one day. Even our kids’ backyard playset was disassembled, carried away, and sold! We came back to a shell of a home that evening: no car in the garage, no beds to make, no furniture to dust, and one check in our hands to fund our dream.
But that isn’t for everyone. And I’ll admit it was an unusual approach. 🙂
In any other situation in life when I wanted to minimize my belongings, I’ve taken a more focused approach to make sure I do my best to remain self-aware throughout the process so I don’t wind up donating many things I actually use.
Here are some suggestions on a taking a healthy approach to the process:
- Start with a plan before you minimize belongings. Write out which rooms you’d like to tackle and order them by importance or difficulty. Sometimes starting with the easiest area or room will help you build momentum to move on to more difficult tasks.
- Choose the first room from your list to focus on, then narrow it down to one location in this room. For example, let’s say you’d like to have a minimalist closet. If your closet feels out of sorts, you could weed out the torn, wrong size, and unnecessary items from one area of the closet. Alternatively, you might choose to attack the drawer of makeup in your master bathroom.
- When you’re done with one area, STOP. Your goal is to start small and celebrate the victories. My experience over the years has been one of gaining as much pleasure from minimizing belongings in a bedside table drawer as when we’ve finished minimizing everything in an entire room.
- Take 30 minutes to an hour the next day (or next weekend) and move to a second problem area on your list. This approach will keep you from being overwhelmed while you minimize belongings. Maybe you’d like to tackle that photo collection next instead of a room? Give it a go, if you are feeling up for it. The last thing you want, however, is the sense that you’re being driven to let go of things that you will later regret having done.
Note: If you find after a few days you’re really gaining momentum, there’s no problem with taking on more than one small area so long as you make certain you’re not carrying it too far to cause frustration. Frustration is most commonly caused when roommates or family members don’t buy into our plan but we push ahead anyway, later wishing we’d not gotten rid of so many items at once. Frustration also comes from failing to rest and reflect on the process and wishing you’d thought it through more.
The fact is, your belongings have been collecting over time…probably years. In the same way, taking time to process what truly is necessary to keep shouldn’t be crammed into a weekend.
Finally, please remember that your purpose isn’t to organize. Buying handy dandy little baskets to hold or hide items doesn’t make them disappear; owning less does.
Would you like some help on your journey to minimize belongings? I’d love to work with you. Take a look at my client services page.
For more help on minimizing things in your life, check out: