You’ve likely heard this mantra for years: live with less. But living with less is easier said than done. The accumulation of stuff often erodes the joy, pleasure and fulfillment you could otherwise get out of life. That’s because possessions eat up precious time, energy and money you could spend on doing the things you love. 

If you’re like most, this cycle will persist until you wake up one day, and it suddenly hits you. You no longer have a life – and probably haven’t for some time. Your home and belongings have become your life. 

But there is hope. By living with less, you can enjoy more of what brings you true happiness and fulfillment. That may mean going to more concerts, plays and sporting events. Or perhaps it’ll free up your time and money to travel, pursue hobbies, get physically fit, volunteer, or spend more time with family and friends. 

And so how do you reach that end-goal and reclaim your life? For some, experiencing this awareness is a no-brainer. They come up with a plan and move full steam ahead. But for most of us, it’s a more arduous process. We may feel tied to our possessions and be creatures of habit, even when they don’t serve us well. Fortunately, there are ways to ease the transition.

First, create a budget and account for everything you spend on. Don’t forget all the maintenance costs as well. Also, make a list of the amount of time you spend shopping, cleaning, organizing and maintaining your possessions, including your home. Then add a second column to each list and note how much time or money you can save by living with less and a smaller home. Also, make a list of what you could do with the extra time and cash that would bring more joy to your life. Next, set a goal to eliminate a specific number of possessions on a daily or weekly basis. Once you begin purging, if you have the urge to eliminate more, go for it.

Also, decide the best methods for disposing of your things, so you feel good about it and stay motivated. If you could use the extra cash, box things up for a garage sale, or sell them online. Also, consider rehoming items with family and friends. Donating goods to a particular charity or family in need might even make you feel better about parting with them.

Once you begin purging, work room-by-room so you can keep track of what you’ve already done. This will help you see your progress, and you can experience the feeling of one less room that owns you.

As you sort through your belongings, ask why you’re keeping each item. If you’re storing it ‘just in case,’ haven’t used it in a year or more, wouldn’t buy it now, it doesn’t hold sentimental value and doesn’t bring you happiness, get rid of it.

After you’ve gone through your entire home (including yard, shed and garage), make another round. You’ll likely find many more items you’re now comfortable eliminating.

Finally, once you’ve successfully freed up a ton of space in your home, plan your next step. You may no longer need so much space. Consider a smaller home or apartment to save even more time, energy and costs. Most importantly, enjoy your newfound freedom and make a conscious effort to live each day to its fullest.

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