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The Art of Letting Go: 5 Simple Tips on How to Get Rid of Your Stuff

We, as Tiny Housers/Simplistic Living Enthusiasts know what it takes to shed the extra layers of possessions that were accumulated over the years from living outside of our means. Though, there are others who find mountains to face when it comes to getting rid of their possessions – whether they literally be mountains of stuff, or figuratively, mountains of attachment that need to be overcome.

So, to facilitate the process of parting with ones belongings, I’ve compiled a list of five common-fare tips on how to get rid of your stuff , or in other words, move mountains.

Tip #1: Get Organized

You would love to downsize your belongings and clear up space, but where do you start? First off, to aid in the commencing of getting down to downsizing business, it helps to have most everything organized. No, not in the sense of keeping your soup cans’ labels facing front first on the shelf, an extra roll of TP within arms reach of the commode, or making sure Friday’s undergarments are not worn on a Wednesday.

It’s favorable to be organized in the sense that all kitchen items remain in the kitchen, bathroom to bathroom, bedroom to bedroom, ect. That way, when you are prepared to start, you can tackle one room at a time with vigilance. It will also make the space more manageable to make piles of what to keep, what to sell, what to donate and what goes into recyclable/waste.

Tip #2 Consolidate Consciously

This is one of my all time favorites in the process of downsizing. When items are consolidated, not only does it give you a fresh eye as to how much space you can clear up (which inhibits motivation to keep downsizing), it also gives you a frame of reference to some of the excess items you were holding onto.

You can start consolidating by paring down all of your bathroom items into only a few drawers, designating a few cupboards/drawers solely for your kitchen cooking ware, and strictly keeping only half of the closet, if even a full one, for harboring your most-worn apparel.

Consolidating is not about stuffing your drawers and closets with the mind-set of ‘if it cannot be seen, it does not exist’. It is about freeing up the space that is there, inside and out. So to say, the space that your eyes are not visually accustomed to on a typical, day-to-day basis.

The great thing is, once items are consolidated, at some point you begin to realize that you can let go of even more.

Tip #3 Soul Search

This is a tricky one. You may ask “How does soul searching have anything to do with getting rid of my material possessions?”

When you really start letting go of things, you will realize that there may be items you are having difficulty in parting with. This is a normal part of the process and is the opportune time to stop, reflect, and really look within yourself to start pondering what you really want out of your life.

What kind of real value have these items brought to your life? If these items were nonexistent in your life, would everything come to an end? If you had one year from this day to live, what would you want to do with that time, and do those items have any part in that equation or hold any personal value in that aspect?

Looking inside and asking yourself questions like this will help you narrow down what is truly meaningful in your life, and what is vital for maintaining it. You would be surprised that most of the time, it is never about material possessions. You may even learn a few new things about yourself in the process of letting go, which can be so revitalizing to the soul.

Tip #4 Keep it in The Family

Let’s say, you got rid of a lot of stuff. You feel great. You pondered life’s complexities, and in general, you have let go. But there are still items – little trinkets of treasures you just do not want to part with. That’s completely okay. It doesn’t hurt to keep a few valuable sentiments in your life, as long as you don’t feel suffocated. Because, that is the point of downsizing – to alleviate that uncomfortable ‘drowning’ feeling, among other things.

If there are items that you don’t really want to hold onto, but would rather like to know that they are going into good hands, then keep it in the family.

Now, when I say keep it in the family, this pertains to friends as well. Because, friends are our family in a sense now aren’t they? Give it to someone in your close, tight-knit circle that would love to be the new bearer of said item.

I call this tip a catch 22 because some of the items that you have acquired over the years, that you no longer want to hold onto, were more than likely passed down with the sense of ‘keeping it in the family’.

Tip #5 Practice Being Resourceful

Letting go and parting with possessions is a long journey to non-attachment. One that I’m still on. We always have to watch ourselves. To catch those urges of wanting to make those mindless, impulse purchases. Temptation is everywhere. You see something at a yard sale and it is only one dollar so, why not? Why not? Because that is exactly how you start back at square one with accumulation.

Since downsizing, I’ve adapted a resourceful mind-set. When it does come down to making a purchase, I ask myself these types of questions: Is this a necessity, or an item that is vital to maintaining my life? Can I use this in the event of an emergency? Is it multi-functional and will it still be useable 5, 10, even 15 years from now? If I purchase this to use now, can I re-sell it later when I no longer need it? And in that case, can I find this in good condition, pre-owned? Asking these types of questions helps keep me in the now, and has kept me on the straight and narrow – away from old, conditioned ways of thinking.

And of course, when it comes down to it, there are always the eco/wallet-friendly factors of re-using, recycling, and (as stated above) buying pre-owned. We are downsizing here people – if we are striving to live in a clutter-free household, why would we want to clutter up the number one living space to every living creature – Our Planet?

And, at the end of the day, always remember to just breathe. And look up. I cannot personally speak for anyone else, but looking up at the sky, the sun, the moon, and the clouds kinda puts a whole lot of things into perspective for me.

On a much-needed road trip in the Spring of 2012, we stopped to enjoy a few relaxing days in Pismo Beach, headed on our way back down to LA from SF.

It was the off-season, not a whole lot of people around, layers of fog accumulated densely along that tiny reserve of the California coast. The bellowing tufts of grey clouds that slowly relinquished day in and day out were heavenly.

The chilly night before the morning we left, we sat on the balcony close to midnight, three flights up, of the ocean-front hotel we were staying in, taking it all in. The crisp, salty air misting us from every direction. And in every direction was limitless ocean.

Within that tranquil moment, My babe glanced over at me, and asked “What’s going on over there?”

I turned and gazed happily at him, smiling. “Just thinkin’ ’bout the planets, man.”

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Keyra is a resourceful practitioner of simplistic living, and a Tiny House enthusiast. When she is not enveloped in the throes of writing, she is either staking out the best parks in LA at the whim of a toddler, in the kitchen perfecting homemade Ghee, or lost within a book, or two.. or three. Keyra and her family currently reside within the throbbing heart of The City of Angels. She would be honored and delighted if you stayed in touch with her at www.simplicitycat.com
{ 17 comments… add one }
  • Meg & Joe January 20, 2013, 9:50 am

    I just keep a simple rule. If it does not get touched at least once a month, it’s trash. My only exception is my snow shovel in the summer months. Easy.

  • Laura Norcross January 20, 2013, 4:49 pm

    Welcome to Tiny House Talk! πŸ™‚ Great tips!!! I do most of these on a constant basis and it has made my things less and less each time around.

    • Keyra January 21, 2013, 12:22 pm

      Hello Laura, thank you! It’s a pleasure to be an active part of this little community. I find myself following these tips on a constant basis as well. πŸ™‚

  • Tim G January 21, 2013, 10:59 am

    More! More! (tips that is, not stuff!)

    • Keyra January 22, 2013, 5:04 pm

      Perhaps a continuing segment, ‘part 2’ will soon follow!

  • [email protected] January 22, 2013, 8:32 am

    Just found your blog and I love it!! It is difficult sometimes to purge; but it’s incredibly necessary to begin the process of simplifying. Great post!

  • Carolyn B January 22, 2013, 10:43 am

    Great timing on your article. My landlord just renovated my kitchen cabinetry and all storage areas are now smaller than they were. GGRRRrr! Seeing this article helps me breathe while contemplating the thought of what to pare down to in the new cabinetry.

    Also, welcome to THT.

    • Keyra January 22, 2013, 5:17 pm

      Thank you, Carolyn. I’d say the kitchen was easiest for me in regards to getting rid of excess stuff. And, don’t get me wrong – I LOVE to cook. There is a saying floating around that the ‘best chefs can make due without a fully stocked kitchen’ or what would be considered fully stocked to the average person living in western/1st world civilization. I’m currently in the phase of switching out certain items like measuring cups and a colander (if I’m even keeping) in lieu of its collapsable form. Once we get settled into our next tiny environment naturally, I intend on cooking in the ground with coals using clay bakers and a ceramic tandoori oven type apparatus.

  • heather January 23, 2013, 9:58 am

    my first step into down sizing is using lower case letters…just kidding.

    I love this site and I am a believer. I have too much stuff! Oddly, when I was first married and for about the first 15 years of that journey, we had a daybed as a couch, two Adirondack style plastic chairs as living room seating. And, no nick nacks or adornments. Oh, if you could see me now. I am not a hoarder but I have great attachment issues. With this being said, the information I have obtained from the site has started meaningful thought on downsizing and tiny homes. I really like the solar design, version 2. I am very impressed with all aspects of this way of life.

    One question has come to mind. Which of the tiny houses is best if you need to move around?

    I thank you for your insight and generosity. How true it is that life is a journey and if you engage you will continue to learn.

    • Keyra January 23, 2013, 6:32 pm

      Hi Heather,
      As part of my downsizing, I have also taken a lot of things down from off the walls. I love it! It really helps me maintain a clear head. When I’m out in the world, and experience a busy day, I want to come home to a Zen environment. Somewhere where I can relax and let my mind settle down.
      The great thing about Tiny Houses is that you can customize yours in the building process to accommodate your individual lifestyle – along with it being relatively affordable and moderately graspable to learn to do yourself.
      A TH on wheels would perhaps be the way to go if you like to move around a lot. There are so many websites and forums where people share their experiences, designs, journeys in building and living in Tiny Houses that you will become inspired in regards to what would be practical for you.
      I agree that life is one big, crazy, beautiful journey! πŸ™‚

  • Gregory January 23, 2013, 7:57 pm

    This is a good topic about downsizing. I have been on this subject for a long time and I’m still doing the “downsizing” at this moment. One of the first things I noticed myself was that I no longer need any of living room furtiure. I had ridden all sofas, chairs and tables that are not foldable, even cabinets too. All I need to sit when watching TV is my van rear seat on floor. And to eat my meals is my little folding table. That’s it.

    My bedroom contains only my twin sized bed and one dresser. Same with my kitchen stuff – not much.

    I need to figure what to do with my personals which they are now in a 5x5x5 rental storage unit. Most are books and stuff. I’ll get to that after I have move back to Vancouver B.C.

  • SJ February 21, 2013, 6:50 pm

    I’d love to hear ideas about how to downsize but get some value from the “stuff”. Becoming a merchant on EBay seems a bit much, but I know from experience that a yard sale won’t bring in value on many types of items, such as books. Or maybe I’m missing something. I’m not looking to get rich on my stuff, but as I head to less income would like to recoup some of the $$ I spent not so wisely. Experiences?

    • Keyra February 22, 2013, 12:28 am

      Hi SJ, great question! I experience similar feelings when I’m in the process of letting things go – I want to try to recoup the monetary loss.

      You are right, eBay can be a bit much. Especially if you are not familiar with how their system works. The bummer deal with selling on eBay is that not only do they take a percentage of your profits, Paypal does too (I don’t know the percentage off hand and it’s not too drastic, but I do feel that it has gone up over the years). The items I choose to sell on eBay are items I think multiple people will bid on. For instance, I flip toddler and baby gear on eBay like no other. But that’s just an example. eBay’s interface is smooth once you get the hang of it and you’d be surprised at how all those small digit sales rack up into a nice lump sum.

      I always go to craigslist first in hopes of flipping an item for some dollars – it is free and easy. With my books, CDs and DVDs, I sell on Amazon (unfortunately, they too also take a commission). I know there are book selling websites such as Abebooks where you can sell and ship your reads as well.

      There is also a website called Kijiji which looks like eBay now owns it and is considered to be the eBay Classifieds. I dabbled on Kijiji in Canada about five years ago and don’t remember eBay being affiliated with it but times do change.

      I don’t do yard sales. This seems to me to be more of the archaic way of selling your stuff with the world of the internet at our fingertips. And I feel that pretty much sums it all up to… selling it all via the world wide web!

      I hope some of this helped! – Keyra

      • Keyra February 22, 2013, 12:36 am

        If anyone else has any other successful experiences flipping their belongings for some cash in any other way aside from using online avenues, please do share!

        SJ – I’m sure there HAS to be other ways of doing it. I’m just programmed and familiar with doing it all online (selling items, that is) πŸ˜‰

        Meditate, expand your mind and try to think outside the box for ideas. Do you live in a small town? Perhaps hold an impromptu type ‘estate sale’. Are you a part of a local community of any kind? Let people know you have certain items for sale through word of mouth. Barter items for services or fresh produce from a garden… these are just my ideas, but the list can go on..

      • SJ February 22, 2013, 11:00 am

        Thanks for the ideas. I saw that abebooks has an option for selling the books to them — I’m going to sort and see what I might have that is worth some money. I have had some luck with Craigslist in the past. Several years ago when I was moving cross country we went to a weekend flea market that was worthwhile, but the local flea market here doesn’t attract many folks although maybe the novelty of our items would be appreciated.

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