Common downsizing obstacles (and how to defeat them)


Halfway through the second week of our current Jump Off the Ladder challenge seems like a good place to talk about downsizing. Many of us have, at one point or another, wanted to downsize our possessions and felt that the task was daunting. Here are a three common obstacles we face, and how to talk ourselves out of them:

1. Fear

This is possibly the biggest challenge we face. Every excuse to not downsize, from “I might need this one day” to “What would so-and-so say if I don’t keep their gift?” is potentially rooted in fear. We fear that we won’t have what we need when the time comes. We fear that we will offend others. We fear that we will be making a mistake that will cost us later.

We combat this struggle by reassuring ourselves that we are not at the mercy of our possessions. When we believe that our survival and comfort are not dependent on our stuff, we are free to let go the things we “might one day need.” We are not victims with regard to our things.

2. Sentiment

Sentiment is a tough obstacle to face. Whether it’s the mild sentiment of a commemorative t-shirt or the deep attachment of a wedding dress, possessions that hold our hearts are some of the hardest to let go.

We can better deal with downsizing sentimental things when we focus on enjoying them, rather than hoarding them. If our sentimental things are so wrapped and packaged and encased that we never see and enjoy them, keeping them for the memories may not be worth it. Keep what brings you joy, but don’t white-knuckle things you never get to experience.

3. Peer pressure

Sometimes as we begin our downsizing journey we encounter discouragement and judgement from those around us. Sometimes these dramatic changes raise in others the same fears and pressures we feel ourselves. Our friends can sometimes feel judged or begin to see their lifestyle in sharp (negative) contrast to ours.

When others put pressure on us to conform, we can fight it by reminding ourselves that we don’t need to apologize for our decisions. As long as we are not actively being judgmental or unkind to those around us, their negative reactions to our choices are not our problem.

Which of these have you faced recently? Do you have any good strategies for dealing with them?


Downsizing: Consumables Part 2

First off, I want to thank you all for the kind words and happy thoughts you sent my way while I was sick. You’re all amazing, and I’m trilled to be part of such a fantastic community!

I’ve tackled the behemoth. Here are the before and after pics for your benefit:


And here’s the rundown of what I kept:

8 Sharpies, assorted colors. I use these on my calendar because ink from a pen smudges. I keep my schedule color-coordinated.

4 Dry erase markers – blue, red, black, green. Ditto the color coordination thing. I use my mirror as a dry erase board.

2 Highlighters – one blue, one yellow. The inside of my Bible looks like Dory.

2 Pens – one black for writing, one red for editing.

4 Mechanical pencils. As colossal nerds, myself and three friends use these weekly when we play World of Darkness.

Total: 20 items.

What I didn’t keep:

Any washable markers.

Any color pencils.

Any Sharpies in colors that don’t show up well on the calendar. (Why do yellow Sharpies exist?)

Any duplicates of items in the first list.

I feel good about this purge. What do you think? Would you have kept or downsized anything I didn’t?

Time Capsule Apartment

This is gorgeous. It also raises a big question in the mind of this minimalist. If you had to flee your home, what possessions would you never go back for? What would you never miss?

Sam Brandolini

time capsule apt

Can you imagine fleeing your apartment to escape WWII and never returning? Continuing to pay your rent until the day you died? In 2010 when Marthe de Florian passed away in Southern France, it was discovered she also kept a city apartment that no one was aware of. When entered for the first time in 70 or so years, everything remained just as she had left it. Click on the photo from for some amazing pictures and discoveries!

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Downsizing: Consumables

Jack and I are 14 days away from the big move! Every week we go back through our ever-shrinking list of possessions, weeding out more and more that we don’t need. We’ve made some great headway, but we’re hoping to get the number down even further before the 30th.

One category of items we have found ourselves keeping are things that we have termed “consumables.” Anything that can get used up and replaced on a fairly regular basis is considered a consumable. As a rule, we don’t count these items as possessions. But recently we’ve struggled to decide what fits into this category. Shampoo is obviously a consumable, but what about the loofah? Paper towels make the list, but what about sponges?

One major thing I’ve struggled with is this:


Yep. As embarrassing as it is for this minimalist, I do tend to hang on to drawing/coloring tools. Love me some office supplies!

As I look in this bag, I can mentally find a hypothetical use for every item. I use the pencils to make lists. The colored pencils are for sketching new sewing patterns. Dry-erase markers are for reminders on the bathroom mirror, and the sharpies are for charts and the calendar. Everything in this bag has been used in the last year, and I know that eventually these items will run out or be used up and I’ll have to spend money on new ones. Theoretically.

But if I dramatically downsized this bag, how much of it would I realistically miss? How much would I actually need to replace in the near future? When was the last time I threw away a pen because it was out of ink? When was the last time I used a Sharpie dry? How many times have I bought new pens or markers because I lost my old ones?

Maybe I don’t need to keep so many backups. Maybe I just need to keep better track of my stuff!

What do you think? How far do you think I can reasonable downsize this bag? I’ll post an update with “after” pictures soon!