Whether you live in a mansion, condo, or room, you are a landlord. Your space is your real estate, your stuff your tenants. Are you an inadvertent slumlord?
One of the first indicators that you’re running a slum is overcrowding. My sister laughs when I personify inanimate objects, but I take my landlording seriously. I want happy tenants.
Your stuff needs elbow room, space to breathe. You can’t cram twelve tenants in a space meant for six and maintain a high property value.
Intuitively we equate spaciousness with luxury, high value. You can have that sense of spaciousness wherever you live. It’s not an issue of size, but ratio.
Sure, you can rent a storage unit, essentially an “apartment” for your stuff. You can let it camp out in a storage pod in your driveway. Some hoarders who can afford it actually buy a second house just for their things. But that won’t take you out of the slums.
The Magic of Ratio
You can use the magic of ratio to create more space right where you are. Ratio gives you the ability to create space simply by reducing the number of items you have.
Ratio means making choices. The smaller your space, the less stuff you can keep. On the upside, you save money and surprise yourself by how much you don’t really need. You spend less time maintaining and more time living. It’s freeing to live within your means.
If you’re feeling cluttered, you are probably living a little slummy, a little below your means. But you can start upgrading your property today. It won’t cost you a thing.
Identify one space in your house you would like to be clutter free. The living room is a good place to start because it’s a public space and not that much belongs there.
The Bare Minimum Vision
What do you do in your living room?
If you have company, you need seating, lighting, and maybe a place to put a drink.
If you watch TV, you need a TV and remote.
That’s it. Bare minimum. Catch the vision.
Box it Up
Books, DVDs, CDs, and video games? Box up whatever you don’t use regularly. (Be honest: how many times would you watch the same DVD in a week? Do you really need it at your fingertips?) Corral anything else in one area for now. We’ll deal with them in another post.
Box up keepsakes, tchotchkes, knicknacks, whatever you want to call them. You know what they are. Don’t worry, they’re not going anywhere; you can look at them later. Also, don’t get bogged down labeling and sorting. This is not an exercise in organization. You will be able to find it later.
The Big Clean Out
Maybe you can keep a couple of cushions, some coasters. Everything else is extra. If you can, move everything else to a different place. If you have an idea of where the stuff belongs, put it there (toys in bedrooms, coats in closets). At this point, don’t worry too much about putting stuff away. Just get it out of the room.
If you come across anything you can throw or give away, do it right then. Designate two bags for the purpose and fill them. Be ruthless and don’t look back. Call your local Veterans Administration or other charity that picks up donations, or drive to your nearest Good Will. Don’t leave the bags sitting around for longer than a week.
Work as quickly as you can, and keep the momentum going. If you’re not sure about something, just move it for now. Don’t waste any time deliberating. This is not a thinking exercise. Don’t think — just do.
Step By Step
Maybe your stuff to space ratio is too small to do the big clean out. Start with the sofa and the floor around it. Then move to the coffee table. Keep expanding your space.
Keep it Clean
Once you’ve created space, don’t give it away. It’s as good as gold. This empty space is what gives your space value.
If you’re used to throwing your coat on the sofa, get in the habit of hanging it up instead. If you can’t do that just yet, throw it somewhere else. Do what you have to do, but hang onto your hard earned property value.
It takes a little work to get out of the slums, but you can do it.