Decluttering – Your Bonus From Your Tiny Home
Decluttering is a huge advantage of tiny home living. However, to declutter we have to sacrifice many things we believe are essential.
In this post, I wrote about my own experience when the decision to move to a small home was made for me. I had no choice in the matter. That made it easier, but I had no time to think about it or plan my decluttering exercise so it was a nerve-wracking experience.
In talking to people about tiny home living, one of the most frequent concerns is how to manage without all the “stuff” accumulated over the years.
That might be one of your first thoughts too.
It’s partly a generational thing. I have observed that if you are a younger 30 something – a millennial or late Gen Yer, you are probably less attached to material things than us Baby Boomers or early Gen X ers. You are also more likely to be concerned about the environment, and rampant consumerism, more aware of the concept of minimalism or a minimalist lifestyle.
If you are in that group, you are probably well on your way to decluttering your life, whether you are planning to move to a tiny home or not.
Decluttering for older generations
Unlike my experience, you might have the luxury of looking around your conventional size house where you are living now.
You might walk past cupboards or closets full of clothes, bed linen and curtains from your previous house that didn’t fit this one but you couldn’t bear to part with “just in case”. Your kitchen cupboards are probably full of crockery, pots and pans that haven’t been used in years. Odd cups, saucers and plates, survivors of tea sets or dinner services which were casualties of childhood clumsiness, enthusiastic, young kitchen helpers or domestic differences of opinion.
Attics, basements and garages are wonderful hiding places for forgotten toys, tools, old clothes, baby carriages or prams and photographs. Things that were put aside to be fixed half a lifetime ago but slowly got buried under yet more broken things awaiting repair.
Rarely used glassware, pots, pans and small electrical appliances tucked away “in case the kids need them when they leave home” can accumulate quicker than you realise.
Books, magazines, old business papers yellowing away in boxes years past the 5 or 7 year mandatory retention time for accounting requirements can fill enough boxes to sink a barge.
Where to start
It doesn’t matter where you start, just that you do.
You will find it easier to work through one room or storage area at a time. You will almost certainly need to do it in cycles.
Because if you try to completely finish decluttering a room or the whole house, in your first attempt, you will be fighting the natural hoarding instincts that got you cluttered in the first place over every item you pick up.
However, if you start with a fairly light purge, you will find it fairly easy to throw out stuff in the “I had been meaning to get rid of” category.
That would include things like the broken vase Aunt Sally gave you as a wedding present which got broken when your now teenage child learned to climb furniture as a toddler. You kept it with the best sense of family loyalty but have known in your heart for years that it was beyond repair.
If you work through your house, garage, storage sheds and wherever else you have been hoarding stuff one room at a time, you will get used to the idea of letting go of stuff you don’t need.
To help you make the choices you need to ask yourself three questions:
- When did I last use this?
- Under what circumstances could I need it in the next year?
- Is there a real, practical or sentimental reason for keeping it?
If you haven’t used it in the last two years, it’s not something expensive or highly customized that you use for a once in 5-year event or activity and it doesn’t have the sentimental value of the last remaining photograph of your parents, then it should go.
Unless it would be very expensive to replace, if you do not expect to use it in the next year, it should go too. Storage facility owners get rich by charging homeowners more each month in rental than the replacement value of the contents.
The next cycle
No matter how strict you think you are in your first cycle, it’s almost certain that you will not throw enough out.
Do the same exercise again, get tougher, stop justifying keeping things you know you should discard.
Some people can do a great job of decluttering in two cycles, a rare few in one. Many need three or more attempts.
The simple but brutal alternative
Here is the simple 3 step process.
- Find your new smaller or tiny home.
- Move what you consider absolutely essential into it
- Sell, give away, donate or throw away everything else.
That might work better for you.
The rising cost of houses, shortages of land for building, job insecurity and slow rate of wage increases will all cause more people to live in smaller or tiny houses.
Dwindling resources and the need to protect the environment will put pressure on all of us to consume less.
Decluttering will help us adjust to these realities.
I have given you some ideas to start your own decluttering. For more ideas, it’s worth reading this book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up by Marie Kondo. (Amazon affiliate link)
It’s time to start decluttering.