If you are like most people you probably tend to keep things you don’t really need, yet build some sort of emotional attachment to. When you make the decision to go tiny or just live a minimalist lifestyle, you HAVE to downsize your belongings or you will quickly be living in a tiny hoarders paradise! But it isn’t just the junk you have to get rid of, there are those items that are truly invaluable to you but might be too much in the way or risk of damage is too great. So how do you decide what to toss and what to keep?
1. First step to downsizing is to prioritize what you absolutely need and use on a day to day basis and put these items aside. When you move into your new space, these are the first items you want to move in, as these are the ones you simply cannot do without. These will be things like work related items, clothes, dishes, utensils, toiletries, medical supplies, pillows, blankets, furniture, and tools or other basic equipment essential for living. This is by far the easiest part, but also contains the most items of any of the steps, so it is a chore to go through.
2. Some things that are now left behind after step one can easily be thrown away or recycled without a second thought, after deciding what is essential. Which leads us to step two, throwing away anything that can now be considered junk. It is important to only throw items away at this point, because at this point we have only set things aside, and we need to begin the emotional process of letting things go. But what do you do with the things you could get rid of but don’t want to just throw away?
3. Have a garage sale or post the items online. If you are like most, then going tiny has something to do with your finances, so you might as well make a little money off of your items before the move. There as so many websites like Cragslist and so many Facebook groups that selling things has never been easier, safer, and faster. Things that don’t sale or you don’t throw away, you can donate or give to friends and family members. This can be a great way to connect with your friends and family if your adventure in going tiny has you hitting the road.
4. This is the toughest step of all, sentimental possessions and what to take and leave. Everyone has items that are priceless in value because someone special gave it to you or because of where you got it or found it. These are the items that hold the most sentimental value and these are the hardest items to leave behind. Some of the items are small enough to make the trip but others have to be left with someone or in storage. I had a really nice globe given to me by my grandmother and with such limited space I had to make the decision to let it go. In my venture to condense these items I had to leave two boxes of my priceless valuables and one box of books with my grandparents.
5. Now we are left with items that we have not deemed trash or sellable or sentimental enough to take or leave with someone. This step can be tricky because you could just throw all that is left away, but you could also sell it for more income, or you could just give it all away. This is a step that will take your creativity but you are now left with all the items you need and just have to find out if it will all fit. If you find out you have plenty of room left over, you can consider taking some of these items with you. But if you find you don’t have enough room or need to get rid of more, then these items will obviously have to go and you will need to repeat the steps until it can all fit in your new space.
Another challenge especially for women are clothes! Reducing my wardrobe was a tribulation to say the least. It took about 5 different times of going through my entire collection of clothes to finally get it down small enough. It is not easy getting rid of that cute top, but when you haven’t worn it in 3 years, it may be time to toss it out. I was so relieved when the clothes I couldn’t part ways with fit into my small closet and drawers after so many downsizing attempts. And one downside of going tiny, is I did have to take a lot clothes off the hangers and fold them so they could fit in drawers and on shelves. But that is an easy sacrifice after you have gotten rid of so much.
All of this may seem a bit overwhelming at first but there is no need to rush the process. I condensed down over the course of 6 months. I focused on one area at a time and even downsized my closet around 5 times. In conclusion, although getting rid of your things can be hard in the end, it is actually a very freeing experience. I sacrificed material possession for the freedom to roam. With our tiny home on wheels we have a new found freedom to spend time outdoors and to create a fulfilled life with travel and nature and you can too!
This story also appears on Hailey’s personal blog.