How to Minimize Belongings

To minimize belongings, start by doing one small area at a time.

To minimize belongings, start by doing one small area at a time.

It’s often said that starting the process to minimize belongings is difficult. For some people letting go of items is the hard part, and others struggle with not being overwhelmed by sheer work that can be involved in the process.

Here are some suggestions on a taking a healthy approach to the process:

* Start with a plan before you minimize belongings. Write out which rooms you’d like to tackle and order them by importance or difficulty.
* Choose the first room from your list to focus on, then narrow it down to one location in this room. For example, if your closet feels out of sorts, you could weed out the torn, wrong size, and unnecessary items from one area of the closet. Alternatively, you might choose to attack the drawer of makeup in your master bathroom.
* When you’re done with one area, STOP. Your goal is to start small and celebrate the victories. My experience over the years has been one of gaining as much pleasure from minimizing belongings in a bedside table drawer as when we’ve finished minimizing everything in an entire room.
* Take 30 minutes to an hour the next day (or next weekend) and move to a second problem area on your list. This approach will keep you from being overwhelmed while you minimize belongings.

Note: If you find after a few days you’re really gaining momentum, there’s no problem with taking on more than one small area so long as you make certain you’re not carrying it too far to cause frustration. Frustration is most commonly caused by family members not buying into your plan but pushing ahead anyway, wishing you’d not gotten rid of so many items at once, or failing to rest and reflect on your process and wishing you’d thought it through more. The fact is, your belongings have been collecting over time…probably years. In the same way, taking time to process what truly is necessary to keep shouldn’t be crammed into a weekend. Finally, please remember that your purpose isn’t to organize. Buying handy dandy little baskets to hold or hide items doesn’t make them disappear. Owning less does.

For more thoughts on minimizing check out Don’t Get Organized…Minimize!

Dana Byers and her family are passionate about adoption and online ministry, and they sold all they owned in 2007 to live a mobile lifestyle overseas and expand online ministry practices globally.  She’s the author of “The Art of Online Ministry” and recently moved to Oklahoma to become the Community Pastor for LifeChurch.tv Church Online. All opinions shared here are expressly her own.

10 Responses to “How to Minimize Belongings”

  1. Joseph Iliff (@SeekOutWisdom) November 7, 2012 at 9:38 am #

    My mother is a passionate minimizer, with a policy of taking two things out of her house for every one new thing she adds. I’m not quite as passionate as she is, but I’ve certainly come to appreciate the value of space. Stuff can not be enjoyed if it is obscured by other stuff. It needs it’s own space. Taking the “de-thinging” process incrementally is great advice. It requires time and consistency to make it a habit. Thanks for the advice, Dana.

    • Dana Byers November 9, 2012 at 10:02 am #

      Joseph – I’m amazed that your mother gets rid of 2 things when bringing in 1…that’s dedication! I don’t do nearly that well, but it helps me to step back sometimes and ask myself if we need to get rid of some things to have a better balance in our home.

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