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10 Things You Need To Discard To Downsize Your Life Space

10 Things You Need To Discard To Downsize Your Life Space
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Two years ago, I downsized my belongings so I could move into a studio apartment from a two bedroom house. It sounds impossible, right? Especially when you consider that I’ve had most of these belongings since childhood. I’m not exactly a pack rat or a hoarder, but I couldn’t stand to get rid of things that were still useful, or had emotional meaning to me.

Once I started eliminating belongings, it was impossible to stop me! I cut my belongings down to a manageable amount—so much so that I was able to move all by myself, with just one pick-up truck. It was an incredible feeling, and I’ve been able to keep my life space clutter-free since then. I highly recommend this type of purge for everyone, whether you’re downsizing or spring cleaning. Donate these items to friends or charity—don’t throw them away!

1. Clothes you don’t wear.

Everyone has clothes they’re saving for a special occasion, or for losing ten pounds, or just in case you find the right shoes. Stop thinking like that! Most people wear the same ten to fourteen outfits over and over and over again—and that’s okay! You don’t have to wear new clothes each time someone sees you. Be honest with yourself and admit you’re never going to wear that shirt that’s a size too small, or those pants that hit above your ankle, and get them out of your closet. Once you start pulling a few items, you’ll be able to really assess what you wear and don’t wear. If you’re in doubt, try wearing these clothes! See if they’re comfortable and look good. If they do, move them to the front of your closet so they’ll stay in rotation.

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2. Books.

This one was hard for me because I’m a huge book nerd. I love owning my favorite books, and I can never resist picking up new-to-me books when I find them for a dollar or two at a used bookstore. As a result, my five bookshelves were crammed with books I’d never read. Just like with my clothes, I found myself going back to the same books when I wanted to pick something from my shelf. I made myself start reading books I’d never read, and found that, more often than not, they weren’t good enough to keep. The library received many boxes of donations from me! Now I only buy books I know I want to own. The rest I get from the library or read on a tablet.

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    3. CDs and DVDs.

    Getting rid of CDs and DVDs seems like a small step, because they don’t really take up a lot of space on their own, but when you have massive collections, they take up way too much room! I’m not a big movie person, so the only DVDs I own are a few favorite TV shows and movies. I could have still gotten rid of them, though, and watched things on Netflix, or rented from the library or Redbox.

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    As far as my CDs, I put most of them on my computer so I could listen to them on my iPod. The only CD player I have is in my car, so I don’t really have a need for physical CDs anymore—I just need the music. Again, I couldn’t get rid of my favorites, or the ones with really cool album art, but I downsized greatly in this area.

    4. Sports and musical equipment.

    I had taken three months of guitar lessons, then never picked the instrument back up again. Why did I still have a bulky acoustic guitar in my house? I just couldn’t get rid of it, because you never know—maybe I’ll get the urge to pick it back up and miraculously remember everything I learned ages ago. Um, no way. I sold the guitar and greatly preferred the cash. If I ever want to learn again, I can rent one from a music store. Same with sports equipment – rent it when you need it! Of course, if you’re on a team or play the keyboard nightly to unwind, don’t get rid of your equipment and instruments. Check and see if renting your necessary equipment is cheaper than buying it and keeping it up to date, but trust your gut about needing your own belongings.

    5. Bags and baggage.

    I love purses. I love getting a new purse and transferring all my belongings from the pockets of one to the zippered compartments of another. Then I toss the old purse in a box and keep it. Forever. Sometimes I reuse purses, but more often than not, I prefer to buy a new one. Same with backpacks and laptop bags. How many do I really need at the floor of my closet? I picked out my most used favorites and donated the others to charity.

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    6. Kitchen gadgets.

    Look around your kitchen. What gadgets do you have? A mixer, a toaster, a microwave, a popcorn maker, a coffeemaker, etc etc. I used to have all of those, too, until I lived in a place where my kitchen was the size of a walk-in closet. Then I realized that leftovers taste better warmed up on the stove than zapped in the microwave, and the broil setting on the oven toasts bread nicely. That coffeemaker is still vital, but cutting down on other appliances that just had one use opened up the counter space for my coffeemaker, as well as plenty of room for prep work when cooking.

    7. Items from the past.

    I was hanging on to a lot of keepsakes from elementary school, past trips, and long ago relationships that didn’t have any emotional significance for me anymore. If you look at something and can’t remember where you got it or why you kept it, you can probably get rid of it! And sometimes getting rid of reminders from a past relationship will make you feel lighter, even if it was just a small envelope of pictures.

    8. Decorative knick-knacks.

    You don’t need cute little porcelain figures all over your shelves! I know people have collections—I collect vintage cameras, and it seems like every guy I’ve ever known collects unopened superhero toys. You don’t have to get rid of something that has value to you, but don’t collect just to collect, and don’t decorate with clutter. Use your collections as decoration by putting them in the empty spaces of your bookshelves, or above your cabinets in that space that is never used.

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    9. Unused furniture.

    I used to have a couch, three arm chairs, a love seat, and a bench seat. I never had enough company over to use all of those seats, and I had my favorite chair and rarely tried a new location on my own. I got rid of a lot of that seating, and it made the room seem three times as large. Not to mention it’s way easier to move two armchairs than it is to haul around a couch! If your furniture is just for decoration or making a room look full, seriously consider getting rid of it and keeping only what you use.

    10. Things bought in bulk.

    When I lived in a 400 square foot apartment, I bought things as I needed them. I’ve stuck with this habit ever since. I used to buy paper towels and tissue in bulk, which meant I needed room to store what hadn’t yet been used. It is sometimes cheaper to buy in bulk, but if you buy only what you need, when you need it, then you’ll just be spending the money necessary to get what you need.

    Featured photo credit: Lara604 via flickr.com

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    Last Updated on July 21, 2021

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    More on Building Habits

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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