Most of my life was spent attempting to upsize. I dreamed of a bigger house, more furniture, better clothes and I rarely even recognized it. Then came the day we decided to let it all go. I call it D-Day for Downsize. Downsizing seems ultra hip these days, but the truth is, downsizing means living like most of the other people on this planet. If shrinking your possessions to live in a rolling tiny house is a new idea, you may feel overwhelmed by the process. This article will help you decide which stuff to hold onto and when it’s time to let items go.
The simplest way to downsize is to set a goal. If you plan to live in an RV, determine how much square footage you will have. For this example, let’s say you are choosing a small fifth wheel and will have approximately 200 feet of home. If your stick and brick house is 2,000 square feet (the national average), you will need to downsize 90 percent of your stuff into one of three categories, sell, store, or donate. Whoa...now take a breath cause 90 percent is going to seem overwhelming at first. Don't freak out. Instead of focusing on what you have to get rid of, focus on what you will keep and the benefits you will gain.
Example: I will be surrounded by everything that I passionately love. If I pull a shirt out of my closet, it’s because I look good in that shirt and enjoy wearing it. The dishes I eat on always make me smile. The shoes that I wear are always my favorites. I no longer own anything that I do not enjoy.
Too often we add items to our lifestyle because they are convenient, not because we love them. Downsizing is all about surrounding yourself with joy and removing anything that weighs you down.
Step #1 - Work through your house one room at a time. Don’t move from place to place. Stay in one area of the house until you complete it regardless of how long it takes.
Step #2 - Divide items into LOVE, TOSS, CONFUSED.
Step #3 - Once you have everything divided into three categories, go through it all again. Which items in the Toss Pile could you sell? Place them in the FOR SALE pile. Which articles in the Toss Pile should you donate? Put them in a donate box. Which items are garbage? Immediately put them in a trash bag and take it OUT of your house.
Look at the items that you love. Have you used them recently? Divide them into three categories. HISTORY, DAILY, SOMEDAY SOON. If you have a special memory or history with an item, place it in the HISTORY box. If you use an item daily or weekly, and that’s why you love it, put it in the DAILY bin. If you are keeping an item for the future, place it in the SOMEDAY SOON box. At this point, you can assume that everything in the SOMEDAY will be going into storage. The daily will be traveling with you. The HISTORY will be staying in limbo while you decide what to do.
Finally, look at the confused box. Now you have to go with your gut. If you don’t feel a passion for an item, assume you can get another one later if you need it. Move it into the appropriate toss pile. If you are still confused on an item, move it into your SOMEDAY pile for possible storage.
Step #4 - If you feel unmotivated, set a timer and work in one area for a limited time as fast as you can. At the end of your 30 minutes (or whatever time you set on the clock), walk away and close the door. Focus on your accomplishment and not on your to-do list.
Step #5 - After you get through your entire space, it’s time for a second go around. You will find that some of the items you thought you couldn’t live without now seem like extra baggage. You will also decide that many of your items should just be donated. Take some time to choose a charity you feel good about helping. The more connected you feel with their cause, the better you will feel when parting with personal items.
Step #6 - Don’t forget your friends, family, and neighbors in need. Many people don’t have the assortment of goodies that you do. Ask yourself who would benefit from your couch? Who would appreciate your dishes? Giving your possessions can be a joyful process. You aren’t losing things; you are blessing others. If you focus on the ability to provide, you will enjoy the downsizing process all the more.
Step #7 - If you struggle with hoarding, downsizing your life will at first be difficult. You can overcome this challenge by asking a friend to sort things with or for you. Choose someone who has no problem tossing items. You need an unbiased opinion that will push you forward.
When my husband and I finished our initial downsize, we went from two commercial business buildings and a house to a 12 by 14 storage room and a 400 square foot motor coach. It took us six months of full-time sorting, but we did it. When we came back a year later, the items in storage looked way less appealing, and we were able to give even more of it away.
In the 14 months that we have been living in our RV, I can honestly say I haven’t missed a thing. It’s shocking to know just how few items we need to be truly happy.