Rules of Engagement for Downsizing

Truck load

How to Sort through your stuff…

We are downsizing in all areas.  Food, storage, books, CDs, DVDs, electronics, etc….  Even weight!  That has helped with my closet.  My clothes are already near the number I need them to be to fit into our tiny house.  That is great news!  It decreases the trauma of getting rid of the “I think I look good in” category of clothes.  (The Gluten Free, Vegan, Whole Food diet helps with downsizing the pounds.)  I must report that all the areas to downsize are not as joyful as weight. I had a difficult time, and still do, deciding what stays and what goes.  I came up with the Rules of Engagement for Downsizing to help me decide.  I hope it helps you.  This seems to work well for the first and second big passes.  Downsizing needs to be done in steps or separate passes.  The rules seem to work well for every area except Homeschooling.  There ‘s a lot of “unknowns,” especially with 5 children.  The question remains…what of the 15 year old’s stuff will the 3 year old use?

  1. Law of Redundancy:  Larger homes are riddled with duplicates.  (i.e. 2 places to eat, 2 living areas, 2 sets of dishes, there are many multiples in our kitchens)  These are the first things to remove.  Be real, most items in the modern kitchen are replicas of common tools.  For example bread makers don’t really save time, and they certainly don’t save space.  You can make bread with a large bowl and pan.  We make 5 loaves of bread at one time and freeze the extra.  It saves time, money and space.  There are so many other items in our homes that are redundant.
  2. Law of Usability:  If you can’t use it, lose it!  If the primary function of an object is to be useful in some way and it no longer serves that function…relieve it of duty.  You may want to look into a limited future, say one year.  If you won’t be using an item in the next year, make room for other things you need now.  All clothes that don’t fit…pass them on to someone they do fit.  Remember: all things you are hoarding are missing the owners that will use them.  You are impeding progress.  There are people that need the stuff you have, and the stuff you have is in the way of things that you really need.  Move it along…
  3. Law of Reality:  We have a larger capacity for inspiration then we have time on this earth to act.  Be real with yourself and others.  Are you really going to use it?  Just because you have a creative idea, or always wanted to learn something, or love thinking about doing an activity someday…doesn’t mean you should keep it!  There is someone that is ready and willing to act and would be super excited to find your beloved “someday” item at Goodwill.  Holding on to things for “someday” makes your house messy today.
    • Not yours?  Ask the rightful owner if they even want it.  Then return it as soon as possible.  Its place is not in your space.  Many people have to ask others to hold on to their stuff because they themselves are holding on to more stuff then they need.
    • Over Stock:  Really, I can’t think of any item, even in the pantry, that I need to stock-up for a year.  Yet, I have done that.  I have a large family and bulk is a distinct part of my planning.  I do need to start looking at the rate of replenishing.  i.e. How often I go to the different stores and the amounts I really need to have on hand.  Overstock costs space, space costs time (ordering and reordering), and time can never be replenished.
  4. Law of Out of Sight Out of Mind:  If you can’t see it, your mind will make up it’s own assumptions of quantity.  We Americans are good at lying about our excess (I’m included.)  Well, we aren’t really lying, we are just in the dark.  The motive seems to be situational, but the law still applies.  *When you are trying to assess how much you need of something be sure to group all of the like items together before deciding.*  This is very important for clothes.  Find all the shorts in all the areas that might have shorts, or skirts, short sleeve shirts…  Match them up and keep a few extra.  Then get rid of the rest.  We seem to have all kinds of places to squirrel away clothes.  But if you can’t see all you have at once, you really won’t know it, for real, how much you already have.  This law works well with other things as well.  i.e. crafts, kitchen utensils, shoes, dishes, tools…look in your area of greatest interest and you will find the greatest surplus.


Let me know if you have any ideas/rules I could use to help this process that aren’t yet covered.

Coming soon… 5 Lies That Keep People from Freedom of Stuff