Introduction: A Guide for Simplifing and Minimalizing.

Simplify and Minimalize.
A guide to cleaning up, reducing clutter and material possessions, organizing, and freeing up more open space in your home.

A lot of us live in a commerce based society and we tend to accumulate a bit of clutter. I have spent a good amount of time trying to reduce the clutter that has piles up in my life, and I am going to share with you what I did to help reduce the clutter in my life.

This guide can be useful for those who also in the process of moving and future dorm living college students.

Step 1: Materials

Yes you will need to gather a few things for this project.

At least six boxes or bins, or a way to store things
Bucket, and zip lock bags (optional)

Step 2: Step 1: Set Goals

Set goals on how much stuff you want to have.

I decided that I wanted to be able to stuff everything I own, minus furniture, into my car.

You can set a goal on various standards:

Quantity: Setting a numerical value to how many items you want in a particular category. An example would be, X number of pants, Y number of shirts and so on.

Spatial: This is picking a goal based on how much space you want to free up. An example of this would be like, saying you want X amount of open floor space in your living room.

Volume / Storage: This is the standard I used for my car goal. Saying I want everything I own (minus furniture) to fit into my car, or wanting everything you own to fit into your a few dressers and shelves.

I am suspecting that anyone who wants to engage in this process already has a goal in mind.

Step 3: Step 2: Determine and Set Standards

Determine what it is that is most important to you. Determine what it is you need to live and survive, and what you need to engage in what you love to do. Then dump off everything else, get rid of all that nonsensical stuff that you own.

Set standards or judging criteria on how you will determine what will get thrown away. We have all heard things like "If you haven't used it in a year, throw it away." Use the standards you set to overcome any pack-rat mentalities you may have, or the idea that I might need it later.

I set an all encompassing criteria for everything, the three year rule. If it didn't get used in three years, I gave it the axe. The all encompassing criteria acts as the first wave of judging for what I dumped.

Below that everything got put into categories with its own criteria. When I set categorical criteria they were stricter compared to the three year rule. It was after everything was put through the judging of the three year rule; it then went into that of its individual judging criteria.

Step 4: Step 3: Prepare Your Boxes

Get your boxes ready. You are going to assign each individual box to hold; garbage, standard municipal recycling, for sale, give away / donate, eWaste (electronics recycling), other material recycling, and the miscellaneous stuff box.

The bucket is optional and is for the containment of any chemical waste or any biohazards you might have that you cannot dispose easily, in my case it was old darkroom chemistry. I put each into its own zip lock bag before putting it into the bucket.

I placed all of these boxes in my living room, away from the space of my house I was working on to keep them from getting in my way since I know I will do a lot of moving around.

The stuff box is important. You basically toss everything in there that doesn't really have a current space or storage, or is in limbo of whether or not it gets the ax. It is useful for tossing stuff into that you need out of the way while you are cleaning or moving stuff around.

Step 5: Step 4: I Like My Coffee Black Just Like My Metal

Make coffee and lunch. This can be an exhausting process. No joke.

Step 6: Step 5: Work in Phases

When doing this I didn't try to complete it in one day or set of combined days of work. I decided that I would work over several phases that can be completed in a day. I didn't want to spend a few days with a huge mess all over the place that I would have to move around to go about my normal daily routine. At the end of every day of this project, I would enjoy the space I was able to free up.

Break down your phases in digestible sizes that you can complete in a day and enjoy the splendors of your labor. This is really important, because cleaning your space can seem really overwhelming at times. There are practical reasons for working in phases as well. It allows you time to adjust to you new surroundings and to see if it works or not. At the end of each phase you have the opportunity to evaluate the progress of this project. Don't try to do clear up your house in one day. Start with things like a single room, your collection of books, or pantry.

Here are the phases I worked in:
The obvious phase: Was getting rid of all the stuff you know you want gone. That stuff you look at every day and think, I have to get rid of that stuff.

Zone phases (Multiple phases): This is when you pick specific parts of your living space; such as desk, filing cabinet, kitchen, media and so on. When you do this you go through everything you own within the particular zone and decide how much you really need that particular item.

The furniture phase: This is the point where you look at the various furniture you own and try to see which of them you can do without. During this part of the process I ended up combining, making multi-purpose furniture, such as a loft bed with a desk. I also got rid of my couches and just sat on the floor Japanese style. Also, take this opportunity as you are reshuffling your furniture to vacuum and even shampoo the carpet if necessary.

Step 7: Step 6: Say Good Bye to Your Clutter.

Being the hippie I am, I tried to keep what I could out of the garbage that was going to the land fill. I recycled what I could through the municipal recycling.

Collection eWaste has become somewhat of a business where you pay to have your stuff taken off your hands; I just kept my stuff around until one of the free eWaste collection events happened in my area.

I had a lot of raw material recycling left over when I was done, most of which was scrap metal. That I took to the metal recycling yard and I got cash in return.

The chemical and hazardous waste I kept around until the city did their once a year pick up of bio-hazardous material.

The stuff that was good to sell was put up to be sold on craigslist, I didn't bother with ebay but you might have you resort to ebay if you live in a smaller town. When selling stuff set a sales deadline, in which you eventually just give it away.

Everything else was given away on craigslist, freecycle, salvation army or my friends commendeered