Countless books, blog posts, seminars, and even videos have been created advising people how to declutter their homes or shed their extra belongings or even how to take the steps necessary to become minimalists. I know this because I’ve read and watched many of them. There are at least a dozen TED and TEDx talks alone that deal with “stuff” and that’s not counting YouTube channels (not individual videos, but entire channels each with dozens or hundreds of videos), magazines, websites, forums, and newsletters. How to deal with our stuff is an extremely popular topic in modern society and lots of people have found the solution.
I’m not sure we’ve found the perfect approach. I do know that we both believe in the need to reduce the amount of stuff we have and now, as you know if you saw our last post, we have to shed at least 90% of what we own so that we can move into an RV later this year. Going from a medium sized home to a tiny living space in the course of a few months is a major adventure – and we’re documenting it in the hope that others might find inspiration in their life.
The Size of the Project Doesn’t Matter
How much stuff you want to shed varies from person to person. Maybe you want to reduce what you own because you’re downsizing to a smaller home or anticipating a major move and don’t want to pay to haul everything to the new one. Maybe you want to change the way you live, simplifying your life or adopting a philosophy of minimalism. Maybe you just want to get rid of the clutter in your life while still keeping the majority of your possessions. It’s a spectrum of needs and goals.
The steps of de-cluttering are the same for all of us. How much time we spend on each step – how deep the de-cluttering goes – that’s the only difference. You may spend a few hours or a few days ridding your home of the excess objects that are getting in your way. Someone else may take a few weeks and significantly reduce their possessions. We’re looking at a process of several months to do an extreme amount of shedding – while doing other things to prepare for the road.
Get Started NOW
In the coming weeks, we’ll be discussing the various philosophies and methods for de-cluttering or simplifying your stuff and your life and offering tips for sorting and disposing of things. Perhaps the most important piece of advice we have is that you need to commit to making a change now. That means getting rid of at least one thing right away. Today. As soon as you finish reading this blog post would be the ideal time.
We’re serious. If you take just one step, you’ll be more likely to take another and another. If you put off throwing out that first thing, you’ll be less likely to do anything later – and what comes later is a lot harder than what we’re asking you to do today.
If you’re like most people, esp. like us, you already have stuff that you’ve been planning to throw out or give away. It’s been sitting in a corner or maybe even gathered in a box or bag in the closet and it just hasn’t quite made it out of the house yet. We call this the low-hanging fruit of the de-cluttering process. It’s the easiest stuff to eliminate because it carries no emotional or mental attachment.
Here’s a few of the things we’ve eliminated this week as part of our low-hanging fruit step:
- Clothing & accessories that we had been collecting to donate
- Papers that we had put off shredding
- A few small household items we’d set aside to donate
- Some broken appliances and random electronic cords we’ve been meaning to recycle
- A bunch of glass jars and plastic containers that we were either going to reuse or recycle
- A bunch of unused checkbooks and duplicate checks from old accounts
- A bag of socks that never got darned and other clothing that would be classified as rags
All in all, we have donated or recycled 80 things this week. For most people that would be a lot. For us, it’s a good start. We’re not suggesting you have to do even a fraction of that number. Even one item will be enough to get you started.
Please don’t feel like you have to start sorting your stuff right now. We didn’t. We had all those items already grouped together to be dealt with “sometime.” I’m sure if you look around your home you have at least one thing that falls into that category – maybe a few. Get those items and remove them from your house now. Put them in the trash or the recycle bin or load them into your car to be donated or recycled appropriately. For instance, we take electronics and small appliances to Best Buy for recycling and our bank has a policy of destroying old checks for customers. With a little bit of research, you can find the proper way to dispose of practically anything.
Here’s a few more things in your home that might qualify as low-hanging fruit:
- Expired food in your pantry, fridge, or freezer
- Expired medications
- Expired makeup, sunscreen, or body care items (yes, these things have expiration dates)
- Magazines you’ve been “meaning to read”
- Items you’ve been “planning to donate”
- Broken electronics, extra cords, old remotes
That’s just a small list to get you started. The goal is to find one thing – or a group of things – that are easy to identify, easy to access, and easy to remove from your home. If you plan on a full de-cluttering, you’ll visit each of these categories in depth at a later time. For now, it’s about what’s easy.
Later this weekend we’ll be releasing a video that shows you our low-hanging fruit and what we did to dispose of it. You’ll be able to find it on our YouTube channel and we’ll be sharing it on our Facebook, Twitter, & Google+ accounts.
So what did you get rid of today? Feel free to share pictures of your low-hanging fruit – or ideas you have for other items that fit in this category – with us on social media, #radicallyreducing.