Making Less More
Lori and I live in 303 square feet (28 sq. meters) of space. To give that some perspective, most building codes require a two car garage to be at least 400 sq. ft (37 sq. mt.). Beyond what we have here, we have half a dozen 4 cubic foot bins stored at our son’s place. Everything we own fits in that total space.
Is living small difficult? No. Actually, it’s very liberating. Lori is fond of telling people she can do a thorough cleaning of the whole house in under an hour. We have care, upkeep, and repairs just as we did in a large home, but on a much smaller scale. Maintaining our stuff takes very little time or money, leaving more time and money for other things.
Our small space has forced us to think about every item we own. When we were in Austin after our first few months on the road, we looked to see what we hadn’t used since we left home. Most of those few items were jettisoned as unneeded and taking up valuable space. Our rule on clothing is any item brought in must be offset by removing an item. One in, one out isn’t a firm rule for every item, but in general, we can’t add much without getting rid of something. Being forced to think about what I own and what I want to buy is a good thing. It makes me think before I buy, and it has caused me to appreciate what I own more. Another interesting change is how we think about things. More and more we consider how items can be used to bless others, including facilitating time with others. My possessions are becoming tools to be used rather than treasures to be hoarded.
You’d think having less would cause us to hold onto what we have more tightly, but this had not been our experience. We’re finding it easier to hold what we have loosely. Having less doesn’t make us stingy, it makes us more generous.
We’re that learning less really is more. I would wish the same blessing on you, but unless you move into a very small space it will require some thought and self-discipline.
- Look at what you own and ask yourself what you haven’t used in the last year. Give serious consideration to getting rid of those things.
- Go to your closet and turn all the hangers around the wrong way. When you put laundry away hang it the right way. In a few months look at the hangers still backwards – these are the clothes you don’t wear.
- Before you buy non-consumables, ask yourself what you’d be willing to get rid of to make room for the new item. You don’t have to follow through, but the thought process will help you see things differently.
- Ask yourself why you keep things you don’t use. What do those things mean to you? What does having those things mean to you? Do you dislike any of what you learn about yourself?
- Look at what your children have. Are you teaching them something harmful? Have you attempted to show love by giving them things? Do they have so much the don’t value anything?
- Think about how much time and money you spend maintaining your things. Cleaning, fixing, storing, sorting, moving around to find other things, and so on. If you had fewer things, what could you do with the time and money you’d gain?
Less is more because when we have fewer things we are better able to focus on what really matters: people.
~ Paul – I’m XY and I got less stuff!