Declutter Your Life

posted in: Sailing, Travel | 2

“The secret of happiness is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” – Socrates


Downsizing from a 2000 sq ft house with a yard and large patio to a 550 or so (indoor) sq ft. boat is a big task. I should also mention that we have land and a half built home in Vieques as well. In the longer term plan, we will be finishing the building of our home and shipping some of our belongings and building materials. In the interim, we need to condense and purge our family’s “stuff” to all fit uncluttered aboard a boat and store the rest.

In the past year or so I have become hugely aware of our human ability to accumulate a ton of things we don’t need or we hold onto for sentimental reasons. I have had this recent urge to declutter and let go of things that I have been holding onto for years. Things I have boxed and moved with me from home to home. I have already purged a ton of things but plan to let go and release a lot more.

Piles of things accumulate especially up high in my home to be out of toddler reach. My brain literally cannot focus with clutter in the environment. I have to clean, declutter, and organize in order to be able to work and be productive.
I have moved a lot over the years and each time I am reminded how much it sucks. I also find it liberating in that it forces you to go through the dark corners of closets and cabinets and lighten the baggage we lug around through life.
Something I read some time ago about minimalist living really spoke to me. The idea of increased freedom by owning less possessions to haul around, clean, and organize is very appealing. The idea that we come into life with no-things and will leave this life with no-things speaks to me. The only “things” that really leave this life with us are the experiences we have and relationships we nurture. I am trying to remember that the memories and sentiment of tangible items are really inside of me and logged in my memory, they are not attached to an item. And when considering purchasing a new item I try to ask myself if I really NEED the item.
At the same time, I am a girl that is very visual, and basically I really like beautiful “things”! I am an admirer of “things” from architecture to furniture down to shoes and scarves. Tomas is very handy and is pretty obsessed with tools, gadgets and machines. He maintains our economies retail sector through online purchases and in Home Depot. And he packs away things in the garage like a squirrel harvesting for the winter. Our two babies have increased our amount of “things” enormously. Despite efforts to implore simplistic Montessori and Waldorf styles in our home, we have nonetheless acquired a lot of toys and baby “things”.
On a boat there is the obvious storage issue. Other considerations are weight (an actual limit and the more weight the slower you move) and water (it is a moist and humid environment and salt water is not friendly to most things). Artwork, photos, non stainless or aluminum metals in particular don’t hold up well against the salt.
Amongst a long list of items we are doing on the business side of things, we are beginning to sort through our “things” to determine what we will sell, give away, and haul along. And if feels like a really big, overwhelming, and not fun job.

The following are the methods we are using to downsize, evaluate, and organize what stays and what goes.

1. Anything not used/worn in 6 months goes.
2. Asking ourselves- do I love this, need this and/or can’t live without it?
3. Using 4 bins- sell, donate, keep, NEED aboard.
4. The I (or someone else) one-day may need these- items need to go.
5. The hidden clutter- needs to go. Junk drawers etc.
6. Sentimental memorabilia- keep a few must haves, take pictures of the rest and let the rest go.
7. Once packing starts- color and number markings on the boxes. (Ex. Boat boxes labeled with blue, #1 boxes- kitchen, #2-bedroom, etc. House- blue #1- kitchen, etc)

Onward towards a lighter and less cluttered future!

2 Responses

  1. Adriene Nolasco

    You have inspired me to de-clutter myself! I have been doing a little here and there but that’s it!

    • Someone also gave me a tip to let go of one item a day (that adds up over the year and is pretty effortless) and anytime you bring in a new item to get rid of one.