Downsizing: take your time

Downsizing: take your time

Many people try to approach the new trend of downsizing with frenzied exuberance, making huge piles of things to throw out or give away. They’re trying to quit materialism cold turkey. But you don’t have to get rid of everything you own, and you don’t have to downsize in one day. It’s better to take your time and really think about what you’re doing and, more importantly, why you’re doing it. This will help eliminate any post-purge regrets.

I was fortunate when I moved into this 360 square foot apartment to be in possession of only half of my possessions. It happened to be the useful half. The other half – those things I didn’t use every day – was in storage in another state.

Whilst I was separated from my belongings, I barely pined for any of them. I could’ve been happy retrieving only my electric bike, hula hoops and deluxe edition Scrabble. However, once I laid eyes on said belongings, the heart palpitations started. How could I get rid of this shawl my grandmother made me? What would I do without this decorative thing? How will I live without this random object?

Before shipping, I was able to weed out about 10 boxes of stuff. There were some hard choices, and when in doubt, I shipped the items so I could decide on their fate at a later date when I wasn’t under a time crunch. In fact, I can barely remember, after only a week, what most of the items were that I left behind.

Already, I’ve opened 7 of the shipped boxes. They seemed easy to integrate into my space. My kitchen cupboards are few but are not bursting at the seams. I had room for additional items, and I still have room to spare.

As I’m opening boxes, I’m continuing to assess each item’s worthiness. I will continue to do this over the next 6 months until I feel everything has a comfortable place and does not make my small space feel cluttered. As a designer, I appreciate empty space and the peace it provides. I don’t want all my walls or floors to be covered in stuff. My mother used to say, when encountering a cluttered space, “There’s no place to rest my eyes.” I want to leave space in my apartment to rest my eyes that is not filled with chaos.

Downsizing and minimizing is a process that goes on and on. It takes practice and a continued desire to have more peace in our lives. We make regular decisions about new items to bring into our space and which items to take out. The goal should be to have a quantity of things that does not overwhelm our senses or take up too much of our time and energy.

Thinking about bringing the remaining 14 boxes of stuff into my apartment is overwhelming, but I savor the challenge of getting everything I own into this one tiny space. It means I’ve let go of my attachment to stuff and decided that I only need what fits comfortably in this apartment. In a few weeks, I should have found a space for almost everything or at least have in my head how I can organize things. But in the meantime, it will take up hours of my precious time to get it all sorted out.

Don’t rush your downsizing goals. Give yourself time to experience it, get emotional about it, and envision a future where you are living more freely without being chained to materialism. Everyone is moving at their own pace in life, and you should move at a pace that’s comfortable for you. Cold turkey isn’t always the way to go.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *