Today is your lucky day. I’m going to share with you 3 easy steps that will help you effectively manage your journey on minimising your possessions. We must remember that doing this is a big deal. It will be difficult… it will take a lot of your time and can become very emotional for you and even bring you to ask deeper questions. This task requires a strategy.
Whether you’re implementing a marketing strategy for your business, managing your financial goals or tackling the possessions in your home, these 3 key steps will stop you from making foolish decisions that could have been avoided and will make you one happy camper.
Step 1 – Create an inventory
This is a crucial step when trying to implement big changes in your life. If you don’t know what you have, how can you effectively decide what plan of action to take? It would be almost impossible to do so. The first step then is to write down all of your possessions; make lists for what you have in each room if that helps break it down easier for you. This will take a long time to do and it will seem tedious but you’ll be thankful for it in the end!
Step 2 – Segmentation
Once you’ve created a list of what you have (in each separate room) you can segment these possessions further into 3 types: something along the lines of “What I need/want”, “What I don’t need or want” and “Maybe”… call them what you want but make sure you avoid putting everything in the maybe category. If you can’t decide then by all means do so but think long and hard about how often you use the item as well as the potential risk of getting rid of it. With my own experience I’ve generally found that the Pareto Principle (Only 20% of our possessions are used 80% of the time) to be quite useful so keep that in mind. This may not be the case for you though… always remember that this is all down to what works for you! Don’t go overboard because others have got rid of a bunch of stuff you use.
Step 3 – Implementation
This is undoubtedly the hardest step but the most important thing to remember is to take it at a pace that best suits you. Getting rid of your possessions too fast can be a shock to the system so start out slow and once you’ve comfortable and think your “don’t want” segment was correct then you can pick up the pace a bit! You can get rid of them in any way you like. I’ve found that creating an Amazon seller account to be quite profitable as well as made full use of the surrounding charity shops. If you have a lot of items then maybe car boot or garage sales would be more suited to you!
What to do with the “Maybe” list I hear you say? Well what I found was a very useful technique was to box up everything that I wasn’t sure about. I put the box away (attic or garage will do nicely) and after 6 months I came back to the box and found that I didn’t use the majority of the items in there. If you’re still worried about whether or not you’ll need the items then you can leave them in that box for a little longer or if you’re brave enough you can get rid of them all together. A useful tip that I received from Niall Doherty was that if it cost less than £20 then getting rid of it makes sense because the risk of needing to buy it again is very minimal. However, if the cost of the item is significantly larger then I suggest you hold onto that item because the financial risk becomes greater.
Hope these tips prove useful to you as they have done for me! Feel free to share your experiences or other suggestions to help those who are ready to make the journey of freeing themselves from their stuff.
It has been a while since I’ve told you how I’m getting along with trying to scale down my possessions and whilst it has been very slow recently, I think I’ve got into the full swing of finally letting go those items that just seem to linger in the “oh I’m sure I’ll use it at some point” zone. I think we’ve all got those items that just sit in the drawer doing absolutely nothing (especially in kitchens!) and they can be incredibly hard to take the courage to let go of these items.
Since December 2010 I have started to sell my unwanted stuff and after 9 months I have made a total of £2606.54 and I still have a lot of items listed in my Amazon inventory. I could never have imagined making so much from my stuff and even though it’s a fraction of what I must have originally spent on all of this stuff it’s good knowing that someone can make the most of the items I no longer care for.
Sometimes I worry about whether or not going about being a minimalist the right way. Some items (such as my clothes) I have been able to donate them to charity which I feel positively good about; especially since these are essential for people to survive. However, I do wonder whether or not the DVDs or CDs I’m passing on is just pushing my problem of clutter onto someone else. What if I’m facilitating someone else’s mindless consumption? I suppose all I can do is have a little faith that the item they buy off me is getting a lot of use and that when they are done with it they will pass it on to someone else who would enjoy having it. But I suppose I’m doing it so why wouldn’t they?
I think I’m going to start going down a different route, though. I have donated the majority of my books to the library and I think that donating CDs and DVDs there too might allow more people to use items that they would only really use once in a while. I think it’s important for a society to share the fruits of this world especially if we are going to move from a consumer society towards a more sustainable way of life. We certainly don’t need millions of the same item that everyone has but barely uses 99% of the time; it doesn’t make sense does it? I understand that this paradigm is slightly utopian and we may, in fact, never reach such a state in which people can integrate so well with each other but we can still seek to move in that direction.
I have only recently discovered the wonders of Cardiff’s new Central Library and I hope to use it frequently over the coming years. It’s vast collection of books, spacious reading areas and facilities makes it a wonderful place for anyone of any age to enjoy and I believe that it’s something worth improving; and for added benefit, it’s an incredibly sustainable building!
So this is my gift to the people of Cardiff; 50 DVDs and 50 books. I admit, it’s not much, but if we all donated a little bit then every one of us can enjoy the things in life that we want to enjoy and knowing that we directly contributed to it makes it all the more worthwhile.
Do you constantly feel you’re living with too much? Do you never have enough space for the things you really love? Or maybe you’re starting to feel as if your developing an unhealthy relationship with your possessions?
About 6 months ago I felt completely overwhelmed with the amount of stuff I had accumulated over the years. I realised that in some instances I started to let my possessions become more important to me than my own well-being. I can recall countless times when my siblings would want to borrow an item of clothing or a DVD to watch and I would allow them to (the majority of the time!). But whilst this item was in their possession I would fret about whether or not they were taking care of it correctly or if it was damaged and would look at the space of where it should be and would feel as if something was missing. I would then become very obsessive and pester the person if they were finished with it or not.
These sort of instances happened more often than I would like to admit and I realise now, after my phase of decluttering, how irrational these feelings really were. I had so many DVDs that I hardly watched any of them (in fact it made it increasingly difficult to choose something to watch) so it wasn’t to do with the fact that I wanted to use them. I realised that my DVD collection had become an obsession – something to show off to people whilst they were over.
This needless worry and fretting needed to stop. I had decided that I have too much stuff, which I no longer have use for and it was time for me to part with it. But how do you take on such a challenge? With over a thousand items or so to get rid of, it can become overwhelming just thinking about where to start. Well here’s how I did it:
- Tell your friends and family what you are doing – This is a crucial factor about making this work. If you become open about it then people are interested in how you’re getting on and it makes it more ‘real’.
- Separate tasks – I wrote down what I needed to do and sorted out my tasks out into different subheadings. The first was getting rid of my text books, and then my clothing and then CDs/DVDs. This can help you get a little bit of focus when you’re starting out. After then, when you’re more comfortable and into the swing of things you can start doing them all at once. Make sure you make piles for things you want to keep, things you’re unsure of and those which you want to get rid of.
- The internet is definitely your best friend – Some things are just too difficult to give away to those close to you (and sometimes it’s better to not give away your stuff to people in the same house as you as you land up getting it back some way or another). The internet helps you branch out to the rest of the country (and the world!), the greater the potential pool of customers you have the easier it is to sell. Using large and reputable companies such as Amazon or Ebay allows you to keep track of supply and demand (in order for you to get a decent price for what you’re selling). These sites also provide a large traffic of customers to their websites so it won’t be long until you have your first sale!
- For certain items charity shops are best! – Sometimes it’s just good to let things go and give them to those that need them to most, free of charge. Alternatively, you could choose those charity collection bins you see in supermarket car parks. I used these to give away all of those clothes that I had which didn’t fit me or I simply didn’t like anymore (Just remember to check if they are wearable first! No one wants your clothes if they are torn up!) I would like to take this opportunity to thank my housemates and my brother for helping me carry all of those black bags full of clothes. I couldn’t have done it without your help! . These charity bins usually give your clothes directly to those in need in countries that are poverty-stricken, so what are you waiting for? Spread some wealth and joy
- Constantly evaluate what you’re doing – Remember, if you’re wanting to declutter don’t think you need to get rid of everything all at once! Start slow and constantly re-evaluate what you’re doing to give yourself clarity. Once you’ve started to get rid of the stuff you know you don’t like, take a look at the maybe pile and see if you feel you need them anymore. You’ll find, for instance, in six months time after making the ‘maybe list’ that you really don’t need any of the things or you’ll find out that some things you really need in your life so you can move them over to your essentials list. Remember that your needs change, so don’t be afraid to change keep something. This isn’t about all or nothing. This is about scaling down your items to a size that is workable to you.
Soon enough you’ll be into the swing of things and it becomes an easy task and you’ll start to think to yourself why you even collected so much stuff in the first place. I found out that the most important things that belong to me are my friends and the experiences we create together. Owning all of those DVDs didn’t make me happier, it just distracted me from what made me truly happy. You’ll find yourself making a fair amount of money that you can use on the important things that make you happy
But my decluttering phase isn’t over, I still have a lot to go through but I’m pretty sure that I’ll be able to give my DVDs to those who really want them. It’s just a matter of time.
There’s more to come in the following weeks so just keep your eyes peeled to see how things get on!