I only use the larger bedroom of this apartment-mansion for storage. It doesn’t have an overhead light and I’ve intentionally avoided plugged in a lamp to access things at night. I only use the room for seldom-used things or things I know I want to keep, which helps me focus my downsizing efforts on the stuff in the living room area. Without a dedicated “safe zone” space for downsizing, I might feel like keeping everything.
I am writing this essay leaned up against my dishwasher, looking at my cluttered freezer full of magnets collected over the years, with the soft thudding of the neighbor kids screaming, yelling, and running all over the apartment just past this wall. They were quiet for a few weeks after the police were called. Now they’re back at it. But what’s actually more stressful than that is all the noise from these magnets and decorations.
Three days after I donated enough donations to fill my trunk, I couldn’t remember what I donated as I was filling out my tax information, and in some small way, I think that’s great. My attachment to the old gloves and perhaps remaining school supplies was so minimal that my memory had wiped clean their existence from my former possession. Once I would have mourned the loss of stuff, now I enjoy the free space.
“You don’t really want it. You’re just spending money.” I’ve, fortunately, lived a life where I’ve never been without money or food. That shouldn’t be a luxury, but it is. The more I drive around the desolate city I’m contracting in, the more I ask myself: What if I had no disposable income? What if I couldn’t leisurely buy two packs of gum just because? What if I thought like that, but positively, going forward?
Just because you don’t own a particular set of songs doesn’t mean you hate them. Just because you enjoy another set of songs, but don’t love them, doesn’t mean you should keep them- no matter how little space they may take up. Just because you love a particular set of songs doesn’t mean you need to own them, especially if you only listen to them about once every few years. It’s OK to sell albums.
Over half of my possessions are in miscellaneous boxes. One box I had in my bedroom had a blanket, socks, and underwear, so it went into my bedroom, but below that were plastic and paper bags. It didn’t take me a half hour to sort through, but combining all the mental energy it cost me thinking about it, wondering how it got to be so bad, and dedicating the time to fixing it exceeded 30 minutes.
Not everything you own is valuable! After donating another trunkful of things to a thrift store and with the apartment clearing up nicely, I’m beginning to learn to accurately access how much value an object has to me in terms of aesthetic, nostalgia, utility. After I donate another miscellaneous amount of furniture, I can then set up shelving dedicated to queueing up items for review. Not everything needs to be cut, but everything needs review.
Having learned my lesson about materialistic mismanagement, I now have certain places in my living room for clutter in certain stages. This rack is the final stop before items go out for donations [soon: sales]. I’ve said my “goodbyes” to everything on this rack, so it’s easier to get it out of the door. There’s a nice psychological side effect to having a shelf like this: I compulsively want to fill this rack with stuff.
If there’s one piece of practical advice I can give: Keep everything important in unique boxes. The most unnecessary pain surrounding this move was having all my important documents in one area, then another, then… where did they go!? If I could estimate the number of hours I lost because I needed this document or that within one month of moving… My fatal mistake was leaving everything in open boxes, free to shuffle freely around.
My ideal apartment isn’t this one. Everything from the big things – like the neighbors – to the small things – the floor is uneven and I don’t like many of the aesthetics. Getting to a more ideal apartment will require me to figure out what possessions I can edit out. This apartment is also too big. I just want somewhere big enough for me to write, store my prized possessions, and work or entertain the occasional guest.