How I Got Rid Of 75 Boxes And Bags Of Stuff

by emily on June 5, 2013

One of the first steps in getting to the next level of simple living is to downsize your stuff. Last year, I promised to do a blog series about the decluttering process I went through, including photos. My apologies. I did not, because it would have required Jerry finding and inserting all the right photos in all the right places, and he didn’t have time. Doesn’t have time now. And I wanted to quit blogging several times last year. So the series never got done.

However, last spring I did give away fifty boxes or bags of items, and sold ten boxes of books to Half-Price Books. And this Thursday, I will be giving away over fifteen more bags and boxes of stuff.

Yes, I know, that’s a lot of stuff. You would get rid of a lot of stuff, too, if you knew you were going to downsize from a 2149 square-foot house to a 1200 square-foot dwelling in a year or two. I want to tell you how I did it to inspire you to the next level of simple living.

Step 1: Ask yourself, If a disaster occurred, which items would I want to save?

Just before I started decluttering, I heard P.J. Jonas talk about this topic on her podcast. At the time, tornadoes had ravaged the area where she lived and she had several neighbors lose everything. So that got me asking, if a tornado were headed our way, what would I want to try to save, and/or hope would be saved?

That question made me realize that we had way too many extra dishes, were hoarding books we would probably never read again, and were storing things (mainly me) that we really didn’t want but were holding onto because someone in our family had given them to us. In addition, Benjamin had a lot of toys and board books that he no longer had any real interest in.

The general rule of thumb is: if you don’t need something, or love something, get rid of it.

Step 2: Go through every item in every room, one room at a time.

You will get overwhelmed if you think about decluttering your whole house. Start with the junk drawer or a closet. Then move on to the bathroom, bedrooms, then the places with the most stuff (typically the kitchen and living room).

Step 3: Sort the stuff.

You’ve heard this before: have three piles, what you’re going to keep, what you’re going to give away (or sell), what you’re going to throw away.

I didn’t do it exactly this way. I didn’t make piles. If I found something that needed to be trashed, into the trash it went. The things I wanted to keep stayed put, and to give away went into a box or bag.

Step 4: Organize what you’re going to keep.

“There is a place for everything, and everything must be in place.” I have made it my goal never to have a junk drawer or dumping area ever again. Every individual thing needs to have a home, and needs to be returned to its home ASAP after being used. After I finished getting rid of the excess items, I reorganized what was left. As a result, I emptied:

  • two closets,
  • two kitchen drawers,
  • the equivalent of a five-shelf bookcase,
  • two kitchen cabinets, and
  • a partridge in a pear tree. :)

I also created much more space in other kitchen cabinets and the master and my son’s bedroom closets (I got rid of HALF of my wardrobe, thank you very much! ;) ). And I filled something like seven or eight tall kitchen trash bags full of stuff that we no longer wanted and was not good enough to donate.

Not only that, but a month or so ago I had to clear out the cabinets under the sinks in the full bath upstairs, for the plumber to do his work. I got rid of everything.

Oh, and I haven’t told you about the bedroom set, and additional queen-sized bed frame, that we sold on craigslist. I am also going to try to sell several smaller items that I think will be of value, like the blood-pressure doohickey that I spent over $50 for and have used probably five times.

Decluttering is work, but I feel so much lighter when the work is done and stuff we no longer need is out the door. I hope this post has helped to inspire you to think about simple living in a clearer light. If it has, please share it with others using the Share Bar above (and TIA. :) )

Stay happy and healthy,


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