How to Reduce In Four Easy Steps

how to reduce

It’s spring. And with spring often comes a clean out of some sort. We have been busy here at my home.

In January, my husband and I set some goals. One of them is to reduce the number of things we own. How about you? Have you made any goals that have to do with rightsizing, downsizing, or just reducing the number of things you own?

In the case these are one of your goals, you have come to the right place. I am going to share with you four steps to reducing the stuff in your life!

How to Reduce – Step 1
Quit buying more stuff. 

Until you know what you have, don’t buy anything new.

Until we have gone through each space in our home, my husband and I aren’t going to buy another thing. Unless it is absolutely necessary. For example, I have eliminated the things in my closet I no longer need, use or love. I had to. I lost 40 pounds! However, that doesn’t mean I am going to go out and buy a whole bunch of new things.

One reason is that I have another 20 pounds to go. Until those pounds are gone, I am going to do as little shopping as possible. And that shopping will be done at consignment and thrift stores if at all possible. In my line of work, I see what people discard from their closets. There are some pretty nice items headed to these stores.

The other reason is that I want to be very conscientious about what I am putting in my closet. Just because I have space in my closet, doesn’t mean I need to fill it. I am seriously considering using Project 333 as a guideline for my new wardrobe. It is an amazing lesson in how to reduce the number of clothing pieces we own and buy. It’s going to involve more mixing and matching, and fewer items in my closet. I am ok with that. It just sounds so much easier to me.

When I think about it, I am just going to continue to shop at consignment and thrift stores. More about that in Part 2 of this series.

How To Reduce – Step 2
Let go of things we no longer need.  

What we need is so open to interpretation. Consider a need vs a want.

  • Need: something you have to have (eg. shelter, food, water, clothing)
  • Want: something you would like to have (eg. a mansion, caviar, bottled water, name brand clothing)

I am not saying get rid of everything that doesn’t fit the criteria above. Or that we can’t live in a mansion. In order to do some of the things we want to do, we will need things to do them with. If I play volleyball, I am going to need a volleyball and protective gear. I don’t need 4 volleyballs and 3 sets of safety gear. I may want them, but I don’t need them.  

How To Reduce – Step 3
Let go of things we no longer use.

I decided to quit volleyball. I no longer need either a volleyball or protective gear. I can pass it on to someone else that might need it. Maybe for you its woodworking tools, or maybe kitchen gadgets. As you go through the reduction process, ask yourself this question. “When is the last time I used this”? If it’s been several years, I would consider letting go of that item a good example of how to reduce.

How To Reduce – Step 4
Let go of things we no longer love (or maybe never loved).

As we get older, our priorities and thought processes change. Something we loved in our 20’s may be a burden in our 40’s. Or, the thing we loved no longer brings good feelings. Or maybe we never really loved them at all. These are the things we need to let go of.

As I was going through some photos that had been my dads, I realized I didn’t even know the people in the photos. They were photos from his years in the military. In reality, I didn’t really love the photos. I loved that they had been my dads. I had only been keeping them because they were my dads, and because I have so very little from him. However, the photos didn’t create good feelings. Having them created more of a feeling of obligation and maybe disappointment to my dad. But, my dad isn’t here and I can hear him say “Cindy, just get rid of the dang things”. So, I did. That’s an entire bin of things I no longer need to store. And one less bin my kids need to go through when I am gone.

Once you have reduced the number of items you own, do your very best to keep it that way. I am so excited to live a life of less. I have collected so many things over the years. Remember, I am a recovering pack rat! Most of the things I purchased I really wanted but needed very few of them. Don’t get me wrong. Many of these things I enjoyed. Some I wish I had thought a little harder about.

Stay tuned for Part 2 in this series. It’s going to be all about Reuse.

Until then, pick a room, any room and get busy reducing!

Let me know how things are going in the comments below.



Other posts that might be of interest to you

Overwhelm|Causes and Cures|Too Much Stuff

What’s Up in the Packrat World


2 Comments. Leave new

Deanna Roberdeau
March 31, 2018 4:00 am

I really worked hard on this last year. We had a garage sale and made $1,300! I still have some paperwork I can purge and a few boxes in my attic that have hidden treasures (ok, memories) that need to be gone through. We are also thinking about retirement and right sizing along with the…do I really need this, or can someone else benefit from it more than my closet. ?

You must have worked really hard on reducing. That must have been one heck of a yard sale! It does seem easier the older I get to let go of most “things”. Memories are hard…