As I have begun to prepare for a move across the country to Portland, I have come to this conclusion. I don't want to move one single thing that I don't like, need, or want. That combined with the reality that we may very well be living in less than 1000 square feet of space in Oregon, made me take some drastic measures in the area of STUFF MANAGEMENT.
I have a house, three kids, a small business, a dog, and a husband who liked to collect as a child. This means that we had lots of stuff. I was overwhelmed and bogged down by managing it all. I emailed a friend looking for some pointers on how to win this war. She has more kids and lives in fewer square feet than we do so I knew she had to have some sort of method to help her cope. I have to credit her for some of the suggestions I'm about to give to you.
Two garage sales, several trips to goodwill, and lots of craiglist sales later here are some suggestions to win the stuff war.
1. Don't decide what you want to keep first and then where your going to put it. First, decide where you will store something, and then only keep what will fit.
Here's an example. I was keeping ALL of D'arcy's clothes to pass down to a (crossing my fingers) future sister. And they were all so cute, it was really hard to part with them. So I set a goal. Everything I was going to keep had to fit into 3 containers which meant that about half of what I had had to go. This helped me immensely in the sorting process. I eventually made another goal of getting it all down to 1 container!
Here's another example. I went from a toy room to a toy closet. Besides very big items and craft materials, all the kids toys had to fit into our hall closet. I made two or three passes through their toys before I finally achieved this goal.
2. If you haven't used it in a year, get rid of it.
This applied to the bikes that Stephen and I had as teenagers. We moved them down to Texas, and they had sat in our garage for four years without once being used. Oh, but maybe someday.... If the day ever comes when I really want to ride a bike, I'll go on craigslist (which is where we sold them) and buy one.
3. How many mugs, washcloths, hooded towels, clothes, shoes, and lotions do you really need anyway? Keep your favorites and get rid of the rest.
4. Reign in sentimentality.
I have a duvet cover that I made when Stephen and I got married that we used for the first four years of marriage. Will we ever use it again? Probably not. But it has all the factors for misplaced sentimentality. First, I made it. Second, we used it during a memorable time in our lives. Does this mean I should store it in our linen closet until I die? NO!
5. If you are keeping it in the hopes of one day fixing it...then fix it already or just get rid of it.
This applies to the shelf that I bought at a garage sale at least three years ago that needed screws worth $1.50 in order to hang it. Well, I finally went out and bought those screws!
This also applies to the stack of clothes that needed mending. One shirt had sat in this mending pile for four years. I decided it wasn't worth my time and energy and got rid of it.
Don't be held hostage by your stuff any longer!