Since covering the “wow” of the minimalist philosophy last post a longtime reader inquired about some helpful tips for downscaling so I thought I’d share some of the “how” behind our journey to live a larger life with less stuff. Before I do however, I must stress that given our different journeys, your mileage will vary accordingly. While the principles are really universal the results you get depend upon your desired lifestyle.
Over the course of our journey, we identified some principles that helped us minimize our stuff to maximize our lives. First, choose quality over quantity by selecting the cream of the crop and getting rid of the rest. In our case we identified our very favorite items, (including shrinking our library from more than 1,500 books to less than 50 today), and either trashed, donated or sold the remainder. I call it the Organizing Olympics: Treasure the gold, transfer (donate/sell) the silver, and trash the bronze.
Second, challenge all your assumptions by imagining a different lifestyle and dealing with your stuff accordingly. Early in our journey, for several different reasons discussed elsewhere in this space, we adopted our personal motto of “minimize to mobilize.” Using this mantra gave us a filter through which to view all our possessions and subsequent purchases. It didn’t happen all at once but over the course of time, we got to the point that we were able to fit all we own in our smallish Nissan Rogue crossover.
Third, leave no stone unturned by thoroughly going through your things regardless of their sentimental value and getting rid of the extraneous. In order to process our belongings, I literally touched everything we owned by going through each drawer, closet, and box one by one. If an item was my wife’s I saved it for her to process, and if I was unsure about an item I set it aside for a limited time to deal with later but there were very few such instances given our guidelines.
In the process of getting rid of about 80% of our overall possessions, I estimate that we donated about 90%, while only trashing about 5% and selling about 5%. We tried to be very intentional about the things we gave away, with most going to family and friends that we thought would appreciate them. As for our library of hundreds of books, we donated the bulk to our local library and the rest to friends and family. We take good care of our stuff so there wasn’t much to trash and the only items we sold were larger ones like furniture and artwork. Try these pointers yourself to live large with less!