The art of living a creative & fulfilling life

Alternative Living : How to declutter and downsize your life

Alternative Living : How to declutter and downsize your life

One part of the process that I find often gets missed when people share about their tiny house journey is the downsizing: how do you go from an average house and all the stuff you bought to fill it up with and then go and move into a 7m x 2m room? Needless to say that the process of ‘going tiny’ really does start with a mindset shift.

We’re surrounded by marketing campaigns from every single angle trying to sell us the newest and coolest gear.  As a woman I feel constantly bombarded by sales and marketing ploys that try to sell me things in a way that makes them seem essential to my wellbeing.  It’s really quite nasty, it can get under your skin and before you know it there’s almost a sense of unworthiness if your not wearing the right clothes or have a sparkly new outfit every day.

I started my journey into downsizing when I moved, last minute, to Tom’s home country of Australia in November 2011.  In the space of a few short weeks I had to get rid of a lifetime of stuff and consolidate everything that I wanted to own into a 60L back pack and hand luggage.  That experience was a real eye opener, I got such a buzz out of chucking out (donating) clothes, books, shoes and nicknacks that were just cluttering up my life and weren’t even bringing me joy.  I had left 2 bags of clothes and a box of books at my mum’s house, the final pieces that I just couldn’t bare to get rid of.  What was magical was that when I came back to visit the UK 18 months later, I looked through those bags of clothes and donated 99% of all the pieces to charity; nothing excited me anymore, there was no emotional attachment to anything.

Since then Ive had a number of big chuck outs over the years.  Tom and I move around quite a lot and we have spent large chunks of the last few years travelling, so there’s been plenty of opportunities for me to scale back on the dud purchases that never fit right or just weren’t comfy enough for me to wear regularly.

In contrast, when I first met Tom he had been living out of a day-pack for 18 months.  Tom’s the kind of guy that does his clothes shopping in a few hectic hours once a year.  His clothes and shoes easily fit into one jumbo tub when we’re moving from place to place.  Where as my vice is clothing, Tom’s seems to be antique books.  Let’s just say we’re going to have to build some beautiful shelves in our little home to house his growing collection of antiques!

As the build is approaching closer, I’ve found in myself a new found resolve when it comes to abstaining from purchasing many new things: there’s now q really fun reason to not partake in frivolous spending! I  know that I’m going to have to be disciplined with the belongings that I choose to include in our home, so there really is no better time to start than now!

I’m  lucky that this has seemed to have progressed so naturally for me, with my love of chucking out naturally leading to the desire to reduce the frivolous purchases that I make.  That’s not to say that I don’t get distracted by Sales signs and pretty Gorman jumpers as I walk to work in the cold Melbourne winter!

I know for some people they still find it REALLY hard to downsize and I wanted to share with you some tips and tricks that I’ve picked up along the way to declutter and stop bringing in new items into your life unnecessarily.  So let’s dive in!

  1. Get out all your clothes.  You’re going to create a donation pile and a chuck out pile.  Donate anything that doesn’t fit you anymore or that you haven’t worn in a year. (I know it’s hard but it’s going to be worth it!).
  2. Next chuck out any clothes or undies that are too beaten up to be donated.  If your not choosing to wear them because there are holes all over them, then they’re not doing much for you in your wardrobe!
  3. Look through your remaining clothes and really ask yourself if you love each piece. Do you find yourself reaching for it all the time? Does it fit well, is it comfy? If not, Donate it.
  4. Go through your books, DVDs and music collections.  Chuck out anything that you haven’t used in at least a year.  If you haven’t listened to that album, pass it on to someone who’ll appreciate it.  Consider uploading your music to a hard drive or computer then selling the original.  If you’re not reaching for that book you read already, recommend it to a friend or sell it on Ebay!  See if you can sell good quality pieces, if not just donate them.
  5. Don’t forget your makeup and beauty supplies, they really can take up a ton of space!  Do you have makeup that’s over a year old? Check the use-by date as it probably is out of date and should be thrown out.  Chuck out any pieces that your not reaching for, unused cosmetics could be given to friends if you think they’d like them.  Do you really need 8 different body moisturisers? Pick one and chuck the rest.

So the next step is really to start monitoring what purchases you are bringing into your home.  The first step is really just to be open with ourselves with our buying habits and a great way to do this is a spending log.  There are great apps that you can download on your devices such as ‘Dollarbird’ or similar where you can log in any purchases and choose different categories.  I find doing a week or two of money logging is such a great motivator for me to naturally adjust my spending habits.

You might also find that you are spending as a way of ‘self-care’, rewarding yourself with some retail therapy.  I certainly find myself doing this and a solution that Ive come up with for myself is to take myself out on dates instead! A chai latte in a pretty little coffee shop is far more enjoyable and relaxing then queueing up in an H&M Sale line to purchase that shirt thats 50% and looks sort-of-nice.

Something else that I have noticed that I do is purchasing more than one of what I love, like buying 2 pairs of the same jeans for example.  When I find something that I love the internal hoarder in me thinks ‘grab another incase you loose it!’, when really I only need one pair of the same jeans.

I feel like Im only really skimming the surface here and that there’s so much more that I want to write about this topic, but Ill leave it there for now.

Until next time!

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