Posts Tagged Decluttering

5 Things You Can Discard Today

Stuff. Collection. Keepsakes. Junk. Clutter. Call it what you will and spell it how you may. It is still a four-letter word in the tiny house community. Stuff is one of those multi-description things that has the ability to hold you back, weigh you down, and otherwise keep you from true freedom! In the book Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk writes: The things you own end up owning you. It’s only after you lose everything that you’re free to do anything.

Storage Unit

Yet still, getting rid of stuff can be difficult at best. There has been conversation before about the freedom’s gained by downsizing but for us it was about taking the things we loved so much and sharing them with others. We weren’t actively using them so why not let someone who would use them, have them. Doing so allowed us to have a more peaceful, clutter-free home and helped our transition into a tiny house a much easier one. Hopefully following these tips will allow you to experience the same freedom.

1. Kitchen Drawers

Doesn’t everyone own and use two sets of ice tongs and a minimum of four ‘sporks’ from your favorite Taco Bell? If this is you perhaps you should consider paring down. A good way to do so is to institute a 3-bin system. This systems consists of two boxes and one drawer. First empty out your kitchen drawer into the first box. As you use each utensil place it into the second box. If you need to use it again take it out of the second box, use it, and return it to the drawer. It now warrants enough usage to keep. Anything that remains in box two or box one at the end of a pre-determined time get discarded.

2. Coffee Mugs

Service of four and two for guests. That is pretty much all you need. Beyond that you can purchase mugs for about $0.25 at the thrift store. Then you can use it and discard it again and not feel guilty for the purchase.

Coffee Mugs

3. Receipts

Yes, it is wise to keep gift receipts in case someone doesn’t like something, won’t use something, got multiples of something, or the gift is dysfunctional. However, if the receipts are just general purchases there are more efficient and space-conscious ways of keeping receipts. Consider a program/App like Evernote or a scanning program that typically comes with a new printer.

4. Periodicals

Magazines have become a decorating accessory through the years. No guest room is complete without a stack by the bed and on bathroom is ready for guests without a small library. But if the year is 2015 and the periodical is from 1999 chances are it is out-of-date and of little interest to anyone. Consider changing out magazines and even books with newer, more fresh material that is more enjoyable to read and more current in its topics.

Magazines

5. Electronics

The nostalgia for a Motorola pager is great. All Jedi know that. However, the user for one is non-existent. This applies to Blackberry’s, Razr flip phones, Kyocera brick phone, and Sony Walkmans. De-cluttering is not limited to the kitchen. eJunk is a very real problem and it seems the average family has quite a collection of useless devices. Perhaps the problem is not knowing how to dispose of them, parting with them after such an initial expense, or just said nostalgia, after all. Fight the urge though and gain space back by permanently burying that coveted 5-disk changer that was once so popular.

Your Turn!

  • Do you have a problem getting rid of things around the house?
  • Is your kitchen the first place clutter builds up?

The Things I Miss Most

There are all the good things about living the tiny life and then there are the things that I miss most. Of course, you don’t have to miss these things! It all comes down to design and what you deem necessary to your well-being and happiness in your living space. After nearly two years living the tiny life, here is what I’ve started to pine for.

aofuro1. Long, luxurious soaks in the tub. Yes, I’ll admit it. I love to fill up a huge tub with water and just lay there. At a Permaculture workshop I attended we played an icebreaker game of confession where everyone in the class went around and fessed up about their most non-sustainable guilty pleasure. Mine was a bath.  I know it’s wasteful and most certainly a luxury but I can’t help but crave those relaxing times spent in steaming water surrounded by bubbles! Any time I house sit, the first thing I look for is a tub. I actually looked in to the Japanese ofuro, a traditional soaking tub that you sit instead of lay down in, but I was told it wasn’t a practical addition to the size bathroom we were building. I think it’s a plausible addition to a small space if planned for early on in the design and I would love to see such a tub  incorporated in to a tiny house!

2. Stability in my living situation. We’ve moved our house 3 times in 2013 and while mobility was a plus when we built La Casita, I never saw us moving quite so much. While it is much less of a hassle than moving in or out of a regular home, it definitely has it’s challenges and feeling settled can take awhile.

Acraftroom3. Craft space/room. Not only for working but also for material storage. We don’t have the space in 98 square feet to meet this need. I really pared down my art materials when we moved in to La Casita and while one solution could be to rent a separate space, that’s not a financially viable option for me right now.

4. Comfortable sleeping room for guests. I miss having a space for friends and family to stay when they visit. We used to host people all the time in our other homes but in La Casita folks either have to sleep on an uncomfortable bench downstairs or camp. With winter not far off in Vermont, camping won’t be an option for much longer. Sure, there are nice B&B’s and cozy hotels for folks to stay but it’s just not the same. I love waking up in the morning and making coffee for guests and a plate of popovers! It’s the best!

5. Having huge potlucks in my living room. This was my favorite activityapotluckpicture and what I miss most about living in larger spaces. I love filling a kitchen with delicious food and cheerful, hungry people! While I have found other outlets and friends who enjoy doing the same in their homes, I miss being able to offer that hospitality.

While all of these needs have creative solutions, which I’ve explored in various posts, I still find myself daydreaming of bubble baths and bright, expansive indoor spaces for shared meals and guests. Perhaps it’s just the American in me trying to break free or maybe this is a normal process of living the tiny life. Once in a while you are going to wish for things you don’t have. It’s only human right?

Your Turn!

  • Is there anything you miss most living in less square footage?

Get Rid Of Your Crap

I started watching this video today and was floored by not only how good it was, not only how true it was, but also how much it just resonated with me.  I think every tiny house person should watch this and even non tiny house people.

The quotes that stood out for me is “if you don’t answer this question [what does freedom mean to me] there is a corporation, company or product that is happy to answer it for you”

what does freedom mean to me

Three Things I Am Having A Hard Time With

So in a few short months I am going to be moving into my tiny house and there are three things that I am really having a hard time trying to figure out how I’m going to handle getting into my tiny house.  They are things that I use very rarely, but there isn’t a good option to not having them.  I thought I’d air my metaphorical “dirty laundry” out for everyone to see, and just maybe I could get some ideas from you all.

So the three things things that I have been having a hard time paring down on are

  1. Tools
  2. Camping equipment
  3. Reference books and materials for my job

Going through this list I obviously still need my tools for building my house and I have several smaller projects to do after the house, so as of right now I use them every week, but what about after?  I have quite a few power tools that I’d really like to keep, but there is really no place in a tiny house for all of them.

Capture

Half of my current tools

I wrote about this a little bit in this post and I have been thinking I’d like to build a tiny house office in the near future.  Basically the tiny house office will be for me to shift my job to a work from home job 100% of the time, I think it is important to have a separate space to work in so you can leave it behind when you need to.  My tools take up about 30ish cubic feet right now, so in the grand scheme of things not a whole lot, but too much to pack into the house; they are something that I do want to keep.

Camping/backpacking is one of my hobbies that I have have done since I was 12, I have literally backpacked a few thousand miles with a 40lb pack on my back.  I love the views, the time away from it all, and the time spent with friends.  The gear for this hobby is quite specialized and pretty expensive. As I have curated my “perfect system” over the years I have gotten down my weekend pack down to an impressive 24 lbs including my water!  The trouble with camping things like tents and sleeping bags, you have to store them loosely to not damage them.  Loosely meaning it takes up a lot of space, not ideal for a tiny house.

DSCN1215

Me a 14,000 feet

I’ve thought about selling it and then renting it when I need to, but honestly the idea of renting a sleeping bag that others have hiked all day and then slept in is not something I could handle… pretty gross.  Besides my gear is markedly better than what  they have for rentals around here.

Finally I have quite a few materials, books and other things that I need to do my job.  I am a very big proponent of digitizing things, minimizing, streamlining, but in the end, you need the tools to do your job.  This is an interesting difference between me and a lot of other tiny house people.  To add to the difficulty I am doing two jobs right now, the one that I’m doing and then the one I want to be doing full time.   While there are quite a few that live and work from a tiny house, their jobs seem to lend themselves to it.  My current job doesn’t so this is in part why I am considering building my tiny house office.

So that is my conundrum at this point, I’ve been wrestling with this for a while and haven’t really come up with a good answer.  Thoughts?

photo

Tools of the trade – Permaculture

What do we really need?

Before we even start to think about floor plans or how you will store all your stuff in a Tiny House, we first need to get down to the basics.  What do you really need in this life?  It is often a lot less than you think, but I feel it’s also important to point out this isn’t about living without, we aren’t trying to sacrifice things here, we are trying to find the happy medium.  When we understand our needs, we then can determine the form and function of our house.

I have talked before about symbols of happiness, the idea that we purchase things which remind us of happy things, of our hopes and wants, of our dreams, but they do not themselves bring us happiness.  In fact, internally, I think this actually creates inner turmoil because our desires go unmet.  A perfect example is having a desktop or screen saver of a white sands beach, it constantly reminds us of us not being there, and it doesn’t seem healthy.

So what if we were to adopt a lens to view our world through to determine what bring us joy and contentment.  With this new lens we need to do a shift in thinking as well.  We need to know what things to strive for, to know what things we must pursue, but they should be achievable with hard work.  At the same time, we need to be okay with not having things that we will never have and shift focus to the things we do.

I am reminded of a story about a man who sought the wisdom of Buddha.

It is said that the happiest people don’t have everything; they just make the best of everything.  While cute quotes such as this one may be fun, we are beginning to see there is a solid foundation in truth to them.

There have been quite a few studies that show that too much clutter has a very negative impact on our well-being.  Angus Deaton, Ph.D., a renowned economist, and Daniel Kahneman, Ph.D., a Nobel prize-winning psychologist conducted a study where they were able to determine that people who made $75,000 a year were the most happy of any salary range.  They were able to show that above that figure had no bearing on happiness and in fact, it could decrease because additional stress that comes with that job.

Now $75k seems a lot to many, but I would expect that Tiny House people could achieve this same peak happiness at a much lower salary because your money goes further. It isn’t the amount of money here that matters; it is what it affords you that is key.  At $75,000 you can afford all of you life’s basics, you can have good health insurance, a good house, some money to take trips and still save some for a rainy day.  With a Tiny House you remove the housing from the equation, which is equivalent to many people’s 30%-40% of income; in this case $23,000-$30,000.  So if we adjust that $75k we are looking at $45,000 annual salary which is much more achievable.

One way I help people determine what is important to them is propose a scenario.  Imagine you wake up one night from a deep sleep and flames are curling up the walls, your house is on fire.  You look out the window to see your family and pets screaming for you to escape with your life.  What do you grab on your way out of the house, know that all else will be lost?

There are few things in this world that cannot be replaced: those close to you and things that remind you of times with those people are irreplaceable.

Finally the differentiation between wants and needs is a tricky lesson to learn.  We are exposed to a consumer culture that makes it hard for us to even separate these things.   So this part is a gradual process that many of us still find ourselves grappling with.  It has been taught to us from a young age that accumulation of things is better.  The more stuff we have, the better we are.  The psychology of these things cannot be understated; we need to dig deep into ourselves to examine our motivations.

So hopefully this has let you understand a little bit of what truly makes you happy, what to steer clear of in terms of things that we THINK make us happy and help change our thinking to determine our needs and wants.  Once we do this we are prepared to fully determine our true needs and how to arrange our life to live in a Tiny House.


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