I wasn't looking forward to this; I'm not going to lie. I was in denial for the last month that I had excess things. Our two-bedroom apartment in Denver is decently sized, and we don't overuse the space we have, so I felt like this wasn't something I needed to be concerned about. Plus, I didn't think I shopped a lot or had too many things in the first place. Boy was I wrong.
Try to go through your things one day and see if there's anything you don't like or don't use. For me, this yielded two bags worth of clothes and shoes. For you, it might yield just a few items. Start in an area of your house or apartment that you use the most often. For me, it was my bedroom. I have two huge closets that I have managed to fill with work clothes, athletic clothes, clothes for every season and shoes that I never wear. Take out that storage container of clothes that's dusty and take a good, hard look at it.
Go through your stuff again. This time with a different eye. Try on some items that you haven't worn in a while. Is there a reason you haven't worn them? Are they too small? Do they go with anything else you own? When's the last time you've worn them? What image are you trying to portray with the items you own? For me, this was especially tough. I have to actually try things on in my closet? How time consuming! Just remember that you are freeing up space for the best items you own. Getting ready in the morning just got easier.
What are you left with? Are there items you are attached to? Ask yourself what benefit those items have for you. Everyone's staple items will be different. There might be that sweatshirt that you've worn everyday this past winter. Yes, that means you should probably keep it. But if you didn't wear the eight other sweatshirts you own, why are you still holding on to them? If you're waiting for that one day where you're in that one situation to wear them, I hate to break it to you. Chances are that day won't come for a while and that item won't fit or be appealing then.
When you downsize, you should start small and go through several evaluations. Give yourself a few days before each time you go through your things so that you can breathe and not be overwhelmed. Once you get the hang of it, it will be a faster process and you'll be able to toss out items simply because you can't answer some of your internal questions on why you still have those items.
If you are moving into a smaller space, you'll know that you have to take less with you. You won't be able to bring that couch, table, dresser, TV stand or TV with you. I had to face some of my attachments and ask myself why it was so hard to part with them. All of our things are replaceable in some way. You may not get that same couch back, but chances are you're going to be able to find another one down the road that's similar. Don't panic. It might surprise you, but friends and family may take your items on loan if you ever need them back again.
This step only applies if you have lots of time for the process, meaning you're not moving into a smaller space for some time. A good tip I once read said that you should move your hangers the opposite way for the things you wear each day, so that after a month, you can clearly see the items you don't wear. I didn't really have time for that, but I was able to move hangers of items I did wear closer together to be able to evaluate those items farther away. Ask yourself how many dishes or glasses you go through each week. If you're like me, you're probably cleaning the same ones each time, leaving a bunch of items that never get used. What's in your pantry that you've had since you first moved in?
Whether you've reduced your clutter by a little bit or by a whole lot, you're going to feel better. Guaranteed. Your items now have meaning and purpose. It will be easier to get rid of clutter going forward. Also, I have accepted that more space is better. You don't have to fill your closets and cabinets.
Who is this person that wears these things and uses these items on a daily basis? Are you portraying your true self or a version of yourself that you think everyone wants to see?