Over the past couple of months we have been downsizing like we have never downsized before. Getting ready to live the van life meant we didn't just need to pack, but we needed to go through EVERYTHING! We had to decide what we really were going to need because space would not allow for clutter. Things that you would normally just throw in a box and bring with you because you didn't feel like going through it were not an option for us. Photographs, memory boxes, jewelry, etc. all had to be dealt with. It was time consuming, and at times really freaking hard!
This time around we learned so much about ourselves, and how to make downsizing a little easier. Here is some advice we can offer on how to make going through, and getting rid of, your stuff a little easier.
Start Small: Pick one area, or room, to start with. Don't begin going through other areas until the one you started is complete. Make a list of rooms/areas before you begin and cross them off as you go. Only do one or two areas per day, unless you have a major time crunch and have people to help you. Keeping it to one area per day will help you to not feel overwhelmed, and will help keep things going.
Put Daily Items Aside: When you start going through an area, like the bathroom or kitchen, check to see what you use everyday. We all have our go to items especially in these areas. Get a box and set those everyday items aside first.
Make Piles: Keep, throw away, sell, and donate. For your throw away pile it's best to just have a trash bag in hand as you go. Keeps the mess down, and gives you a feeling of making progress.
Go Through Easier Stuff First: Do the easy areas first. Of course easy is in the eye of the beholder, but start somewhere you know you won't have too hard a time getting rid of things. Kids clothes, pantry, spices you have only used once...
Go Through The Hardest Stuff Last: Anything that you know you have a strong emotional attachment to save for last. Memory boxes, photographs, heirlooms in the attic, et. These items are usually the hardest and most time consuming to go through. Save them to do at the end, so you don't feel too overwhelmed. Sometimes going down memory lane isn't easy, and it can stop your progress before you even begin.
Be Easy On Yourself: Remember this all will take time. You don't have to rush. Remember it's okay to second guess letting go of something. It's okay to keep it. Maybe today you just aren't ready to let it go, but tomorrow you will be. Be easy on yourself.
Give Yourself Alternatives: No way was I going to stop creating art, but having a very large easel and taboret wasn't going to cut it living in a van. It was easier to give up these items because I knew there were alternative painting supplies out there that I could replace the larger easels with. I also knew that I could find a way to make sure these easels went to a good home, so I didn't feel like I just got rid of them. Search out local stores for your items where you can either sell your items, or get credit to purchase an alternative to what you have. I was glad I found a local art store that bought art supplies. They gave me store credit and now I have an amazing, downsized way to create art on the road without feeling like I gave anything up.
Just Do It! Stop making excuses right now and get to it. You don't need to clean the house first, or wash the car. Just pick a small area and get started. Your desk, fridge, bathroom closet, et. Once you start, a chain reaction will happen and it will become easier to keep going.
These are just a few ideas that helped us downsize our stuff over the past few weeks. I'm sure many of you have more tips. Please feel free to share your decluttering/downsizing advice in the comments. We would love to see how others have made progress.