So, everybody knows how much I love the tiny house movement, right? The fantasy of living in a 100 square foot space, getting rid of all my stuff, and cutting dramatically on waste, and on shopping, is something holding a lot of allure for me lately. Some of it, I’m ashamed to admit, is I’m a little terrified of making those kinds of big changes in my life.
So instead of a big change, I thought hard about making a bunch of little changes. Ways I could cut back on my stuff, and simplify my life, before taking the big leap into the tiny house. This is a short list of things I’ve learned to help me de-clutter my life, and dip my toe into the world of the tiny living.
No pun intended, right? I sometimes get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff I need to find a place for.
Not even thinking in terms of cleaning, but simple organization is exhausting for me, and I know I’m not alone.
So a great way I’ve found is to start in a small space.
One corner of a room, one shelf, or one cupboard in the kitchen, and that’s it.
I set a great music playlist going and have at it. Once that’s done, I feel more accomplished, and I can move on to bigger spaces.
My paycheck-to-paycheck life has instilled in me fear about getting rid of anything.
The idea of throwing stuff out makes me really anxious.
Instead, I put four piles on the floor: Keep, donate, give away, trash.
In the trash pile, I put anything I haven’t used in a year, anything that is broken (yes, even if I might be able to fix it ‘one day.’) and expired stuff. I’m ashamed to say I have a habit of holding on to food way too long just because I’m not entirely sure if it’s expired.
In the donate pile, I put the stuff I love, but don’t use. This is full of stuff from years ago, or stuff I’m holding onto for “sentimental” reasons, that is, stuff I don’t love now but used to love, or gifts from people I love that I actually don’t use. Stuff that would be wasteful to throw out, but is a very nice thing to give away. I can feel good knowing it’s going somewhere that it will be appreciated.
The major difference between the donate and give away pile is just that I know someone who could use it. Like old kitchen appliances from that time I really wanted to take up baking and then… did not.
That leaves the keep pile. What do I need to keep?
Choosing things to keep and keeping them there!
I used to be really bad a this. I would give myself a set number like, “I really only need 5 shirts.”
Except that over time, the number would get bigger.
Usually, because I gave something away that I really loved and missed, or because I had a lifestyle change, like a new job, and felt I needed a bigger wardrobe.
Now, I use the ‘joy’ method, which says that anything that truly makes you feel good, is something you need to keep.
Anything that you can pick up that does not immediately spark joy, get rid of. If I can hear myself rationalizing myself into joy, which happens, I know to donate or give away.
The great thing is to have designated areas for each thing. My closet can only hold so much.
If I buy something new, and I have to start moving things to the coat closet in the hall? I have to choose to toss something. It’s tough at first, but I swear it gets easier.
Having a designated space for everything also helps cut down on things like “junk drawers” or catch-all surfaces around your house that tend to pile up full of junk mail, wrappers, random hair ties and other things. If you know where everything goes, there’s no excuse not to put it there.
There you have it. There are many ways to live minimally even when you’re not ready to make a move to a tiny house.
These are only a few of them, but they are simple things you can do right now.