Finding yourself in the unenviable position of having too many things and not enough space can be stressful; even more so when you can’t purchase storage space and have no place available outside. In the recent economic downturn where home values dropped to become less than what is owed combined with a job environment that insured you were living below your needs, many families have had to face situations that they never imagined they would be in. Today’s post is my view on what you can do to make life more livable in a situation that seems unbearable.
- Live a prioritized life: You have to determine the things that are truly valuable to you. Is it more important to keep the old college books or the family pictures? Is it more valuable to have things that may be helpful one day in the future, or things that you need for the day? By taking inventory in your life of the things that you truly find important, you will determine the basis for the following steps.
- Get rid of the clutter: With priorities in hand, go from room to room, asking the questions: do I need this to live for today? Does this item or object have a more sentimental rather than functional value? If I need to replace it, can I ever get it back again? There is a tier or hierarchy that you can use in order to divest yourself of the things that you have; that hierarchy is here: A. Sell the items online via ebay or some other Web based forum. Doing this will enable you to get the most cash for the things that you desire to be rid of. B. Sell the items at a garage sale or at a specialty outlet… bookstores have continued to purchase used books even in the downturn. C. Give to charity. If the organization is a 501c3, then you also obtain a tax deduction. D. Recycle – get some measure of value. E. Burn – at least you are getting the value of warmth from the things you had. Perhaps you could even cook food on the old magazines you don’t need and couldn’t sell. F. Trash – send it to the landfill.
- Assess your current needs: Your goal, after ridding yourself of clutter, is to use the things you have more efficiently. If you don’t have the space to do what you need to, but have a lot of things still around, start re-arranging how you have stored the things you have. For kids, it can become like the video game, Tetris… use your Tetris skills in order to determine better ways of storing the things you have left. Also, maybe you don’t need 20 dresses. Maybe you actually need five. Lose the rest of them, and enjoy the freedom that comes from having space to move.
- Change the positions of furniture to match the current situation that you are in: When you can’t move, if you have gotten rid of cluttery items, maybe you can reposition your furniture. Remember that clutter causes a lack of freedom to move. As living beings, we were designed to move. As Americans, our threshold for a comfort zone with people is much larger than those in other cultures… so the space needs we have may not be the same for everyone in the world. Furniture is only helpful to the extent that you can store the things you need AND recover them easily when they are needed.
- Go vertical: Much of the unused space that we have is actually on the walls. With a little thought, you can transform and hide the cluttery items by (gasp) purchasing a wall mounted cabinet to place them in. Be sure that you have a couple strong arms and a stud finder from which to hang the items you need. You will be surprised at the amount of space you save when you start seeking structural solutions to your organizational problems.
- Change the things you value – remember that even when you have a lot of things, your life doesn’t consist in those things. Value time spent with family doing free things like taking walks, swimming at the beach, etc. instead of doing things that require that you spend money.
- Emphasis on design, efficiency and quality of life over space – face it. You don’t have space. So, make up for the lack of space by focusing on bringing more quality into the space you have. It is amazing what painting walls can do to a room… color can actually be used to enhance the perception of depth in a space.
By taking a few steps back and re-examining why you are doing what you are doing, you will be able to shape your life so that although you are stuck in a certain situation, you don’t have to feel trapped.