Author Topic: Any minimalists done a packing party? Looking for tips.  (Read 1706 times)

red_pill

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Any minimalists done a packing party? Looking for tips.
« on: July 31, 2019, 07:14:35 PM »
Have any mustachian minimalists here ever done a full blown packing party?

For those interested, a packing party is a decluttering technique advocated by The Minimalists where you box up literally everything in your house.  Everything.  Then, as you need things you unpack them.  After a given amount of time, you have clearly identified the stuff you don't use.  Apparently the results are usually shocking.

Extreme? Yes.  Effective? I would think so.

We are thinking of giving it a try.  We are very low on the clutter scale as it is, probably already having eliminated 60 % of our stuff since finding out about minimalism a few years ago. But we are looking for an experiment that creates the potential to find a way of living that would be hard to arrive at through continued iterative culling of stuff.  Our thought is we could try it and worst case scenario we end up unboxing everything and keeping it all and wasting a bunch of time.   But the best case scenario is we dramatically change how we live and open all sorts of doors that our "stuff" prevents us from doing - downsizing, digital nomad lifestyle, extended travel...who knows.  Maybe the time investment is worth it to potentially discover a fundamentally different way of living.

Has anyone ever done this before ?  Any tips or suggestions ?


SunnyDays

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Re: Any minimalists done a packing party? Looking for tips.
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2019, 10:17:10 AM »
I've heard of this approach, but haven't done it myself.  However, you might want to check out the show "Consumed" on Netflix for a pretty radical way of doing just this.  The host helps families who are drowning in stuff by cutting their entire house to the bone all at once, putting all the rest in storage. Think: couch, beds, table, one dish and set of cutlery per person, etc.  Of course, this forces them to live entirely differently, and at the end of the time (2 weeks?), they're allowed to put back whatever they want into their house.  Usually, at least 50% of the stuff never makes it back in, because the families realize they've been happier without it all.  Loved that show!

dcheesi

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Re: Any minimalists done a packing party? Looking for tips.
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2019, 11:40:42 AM »
Keep in mind that it could take up to a full year to identify all of the things you use. Many items are seasonal, and others are only needed once in a blue moon, but are really good to have in that one scenario. This should be somewhat obvious I would think, but I thought I'd mention it, since some of these schemes you read online include arbitrary time limits like 3 or 6 months.

merlin7676

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Re: Any minimalists done a packing party? Looking for tips.
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2019, 12:19:08 PM »
DH, roommate, and myself recently had to do this. We just sold our condo so had to box up 90% of our stuff for the showings and open houses and staging.

Already being a minimalist, I didn't have a whole bunch to start up with anyway but for everything that I did, I will be giving it a seriously hard "second look" when I unpack at the new house to really see if I "miss or need" the stuff that's been in the boxes for the past 2 1/2 months.

I suggested this to both the DH and roommate that they do the same thing. 
DH is all for it and although he's not a minimalist, he is open to the idea of getting rid of more stuff.

Roommate on the other hand is a horder and borderline OCD. Just trying to get him to box his stuff up was a challenge.  A good example is a actual record player that he had in his closet for at least the 4 1/2 years I've known him. Never once had it come out, been used or played with. I suggested donating it and he acting like I suggested sacrificing a puppy or something.
Even stuff that DH and I didn't box up and marked for donation he'd grab. We had to "rescue it" back to the donation pile b/c "I can use it sometime" or "I'll find something to do with it" would come out of his mouth.

Thankfully he's getting his own place now so I don't have to live with him anymore. Frankly I don't know where he's going to put all this stuff and I dread the first time I'm over at his new place visiting (he and the DH are best friends).

RyanAtTanagra

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Re: Any minimalists done a packing party? Looking for tips.
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2019, 04:46:07 PM »
If you've already cut over half your stuff, I don't know that you'd get a lot out of the boxing technique.  You'll end up with a lot of things boxed that you still don't want to get rid of, like tools and camping gear.

There are other things you can do, like if you're wanting to downsize, then pick a room or a closet and pull everything out and leave that space empty.  Now the rest of your space is more cluttered, so start another culling cycle until it's back to where you want it.  When you have an entire bedroom in your 2 bedroom apt empty and you're still comfortable, then downsizing to 1br is easy and painless.

Or, if you're like me, I hate having to move things around in a cabinet or closet, or pull things out and set them aside, to get to something I want.  So I declutter each individual space so things aren't crammed and are easy to get to, which can be a pretty difficult decluttering bar.

Even stuff that DH and I didn't box up and marked for donation he'd grab. We had to "rescue it" back to the donation pile b/c "I can use it sometime" or "I'll find something to do with it" would come out of his mouth.

Thankfully he's getting his own place now so I don't have to live with him anymore.

I've lived with people like that, it's.... crowded.  So glad to not live with pack rats anymore.

thesis

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Re: Any minimalists done a packing party? Looking for tips.
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2019, 12:24:47 PM »
I have mixed feelings on approaches to de-cluttering like this. I'm sure it's effective in a way, but it doesn't consider every scenario.

For example, I rent a room in a house, and most of the dishes aren't mine, but I keep the old ones I own. I've hardly touched my dishes over the past year, but that doesn't mean I need to get rid of them. I guess I could and that wouldn't kill me, but they have a nice little space in one of the cupboards and I'm no worse off for it. I won't be living here forever, and I really like the dishes otherwise, they just aren't currently as convenient as the cheap-o ones my roommates have.

I tend to reevaluate things over time. I also tend to go through phases of frequently and infrequently using things. Overall, I keep a fairly small footprint and watch out for bloat

afterthedark

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Re: Any minimalists done a packing party? Looking for tips.
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2019, 12:28:30 AM »

We are thinking of giving it a try.  We are very low on the clutter scale as it is, probably already having eliminated 60 % of our stuff since finding out about minimalism a few years ago. But we are looking for an experiment that creates the potential to find a way of living that would be hard to arrive at through continued iterative culling of stuff.  Our thought is we could try it and worst case scenario we end up unboxing everything and keeping it all and wasting a bunch of time.   But the best case scenario is we dramatically change how we live and open all sorts of doors that our "stuff" prevents us from doing - downsizing, digital nomad lifestyle, extended travel...who knows.  Maybe the time investment is worth it to potentially discover a fundamentally different way of living.


It would take huge amounts of effort and Iíve never thought the benefit would justify it. However, over the last decade I have untangled emotionally from most of my possessions, ie if I lost it all in a fire I would be upset about very little Ďstuffí and wouldnít replace most of it. I actually made a list of what I would replace in that and other situations, as it would depend on whether I moved into another building or lived in a van for a while etc.

If you havenít already done that thought experiment it might be a less drastic initial step. Take each of your possible future scenarios, such as downsizing or extended travel, and list what you would keep. You donít need to list each individual book or piece of clothing, but groups with an approximate number.

If you had 10 minutes to evacuate your house what would you grab? If you went travelling what stuff would be worth spending money to put in storage? If it would cost $?? pm to store stuff, how quickly does it become cheaper to donate it all and just replace the essentials when you get back?

Your stuff isnít preventing you from doing any of those things you listed. If you decided tomorrow you want to travel for a year you could make it happen pretty quickly. Donít let stuff be an excuse not to do what you want.

MayDay

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Re: Any minimalists done a packing party? Looking for tips.
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2019, 06:49:45 AM »
I personally can't see bothering until I was actually planning a lifestyle change. I am fairly minimalist and every time we have moved, I have no problem pitching a ton of stuff. But....  Why have an empty room if I'm not moving? Why not keep the guest bed/whatever, as long as it's used at least once a year?

That is what always trips me up from being super minimalist- there is a lot of stuff you use once a year. And if I didn't have the space, no problem. But I do.....

red_pill

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Re: Any minimalists done a packing party? Looking for tips.
« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2019, 09:27:29 AM »
I've heard of this approach, but haven't done it myself.  However, you might want to check out the show "Consumed" on Netflix for a pretty radical way of doing just this.  The host helps families who are drowning in stuff by cutting their entire house to the bone all at once, putting all the rest in storage. Think: couch, beds, table, one dish and set of cutlery per person, etc.  Of course, this forces them to live entirely differently, and at the end of the time (2 weeks?), they're allowed to put back whatever they want into their house.  Usually, at least 50% of the stuff never makes it back in, because the families realize they've been happier without it all.  Loved that show!

Thanks, that show looks interesting, but it isn't on Canadian Netflix.  I watched a few trailers and it looks like it is essentially hoarder voyeurism.... those people are drowning in stuff.  We really aren't.  I'm not where I want to be but compared to the average I'm pretty darn good.  That said, I like the premise...live with just the essentials, and do it long enough to form new habits, and see where it leads.  I'll try to find the show somewhere online. Thanks!

red_pill

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Re: Any minimalists done a packing party? Looking for tips.
« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2019, 10:03:32 AM »
Greatly appreciate all the thoughtful replies.  I see some common assumptions in the replies, though...and these are assumptions that I myself have and am looking to challenge. 

If you've already cut over half your stuff, I don't know that you'd get a lot out of the boxing technique.  You'll end up with a lot of things boxed that you still don't want to get rid of, like tools and camping gear.


I've been thinking the same thing - but, it is an assumption, and probably one that is the result of mental justification because hey, keeping something is an easier decision than getting rid of something, so my brain will try anything to convince me to keep shit and not think about it any more.  I don't trust my brain in thinking this.  I suspect that I use far, far less of my stuff than I think I do, even though we are pretty much low clutter.

The other thing I'm thinking is maybe this will get me past what I call Phase 1 of minimalism: getting rid of unnecessary items, and into Phase 2: consciously making due with less.    For tools, yeah maybe I do use a tool once a year, so it's not purely unnecessary.  But could I make due without it?  Sure, I could rent that tool, or borrow it, or hire out the work...whatever.  Maybe that doesn't make sense for just 1 tool, but if you apply that thinking to 1,000 items then you can dramatically alter your current circumstances and maybe you get to a different plane of existence where those things actually aren't necessary anymore.  Like I won't need camping equipment because we are traveling as a lifestyle.  Or I don't need tools because I no longer own my home.   Does that make sense?  It's like, that "stuff" is only necessary because of the lifestyle I currently lead, and I'm trapped in that lifestyle I lead (or at least less likely to change it) because of all that stuff. 



I guess I could and that wouldn't kill me, but they have a nice little space in one of the cupboards and I'm no worse off for it.


Ah, the "we have space for it so we might as well keep it" discussion.  This is my wife's argument.  What is it hurting, after all?  That's the thing...I think it is hurting us in imperceptible ways.  Every cupboard that has a extra bowl in it, every drawer with the unused knick knack, every closet with the old jacket...the brain has to process all of it.  Or at least mine does.  On the other hand, the empty space is a thing of beauty.  It gives my actual physical joy when I walk into a totally clutter free room.  So, for me at least, I am worse off for keeping unnecessary things. 



Your stuff isnít preventing you from doing any of those things you listed.


This cut like a knife. You are absolutely right. If I was truly motivated and determined there is nothing stopping me from doing lots of things.  And yet I don't...why is that?  Maybe I don't really want to do those things.  Or maybe there is just too much of a jump from my current life to that potential life that it's too scary without certainty that I would like it.

Overall, I feel like trying to escape our normal middle-class North American life style is like trying to escape the Earth's gravitational pull. There is so much weighing us down and it all just keeps getting heavier - the 9to5 job where you are supposed to chase promotions and advancements so you can own a suburban house full of stuff that is supposed to look a certain way.  And that's it, you start playing that game and you get trapped spending 40 years working a job that pays for a lifestyle that is only required because you have that job.  There just has to be a better way.  I'm sure of it.  I know it in the core of my being. 

Could I get free in an instant with some herculean effort?  Yeah, probably.  But it's hard.  And it's scary - everyone else seems perfectly happy being stuck in the black hole of consumerism, so what makes me so sure there is happiness waiting for me outside of it?  My wife doesn't really question the hamster wheel life as much as I do.  She's willing to go along with my weird plans, but with hesitation.

So my strategy is to reduce the rocket blast needed to escape this black hole by gradually but constantly loosening the grip that this life has on us.  Show my wife (and myself) what it's like to not feel as heavy.  Already we feel lighter. But there is more we can do.

The massive reduction in stuff is a way to jettison weight and see a big improvement in a short amount of time. Reducing my expenses in other areas is another. Extracting myself from the desire to keep up with the Joneses is another. 

For us, I think the likelihood of us doing extended travel from the current position we are in is very, very unlikely.  But, if I was staring at a half empty house...well, maybe that decision becomes easier.  Or at the very least we become less tied to our current life and more likely to explore all of the options that life has to offer.



 
« Last Edit: August 03, 2019, 10:07:59 AM by red_pill »

Cannot Wait!

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Re: Any minimalists done a packing party? Looking for tips.
« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2019, 10:22:16 AM »
I spent 5 months living out of my van this past winter in Arizona.   Had a FANTASTIC time.  Got back to my house and was overwhelmed by ALL THE STUFF.  Got rid of all the crap stuffed in drawers, cupboards,  closets, etc and it feels wonderful.  Would recommend you try out one of your daydreams; makes cleaning out pretty easy AFTER you've experienced the benefits of living with less.  So basically the reverse of your plan to clear out and then go - I went and then cleared out!

red_pill

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Re: Any minimalists done a packing party? Looking for tips.
« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2019, 11:34:01 AM »
I spent 5 months living out of my van this past winter in Arizona.   Had a FANTASTIC time.  Got back to my house and was overwhelmed by ALL THE STUFF.  Got rid of all the crap stuffed in drawers, cupboards,  closets, etc and it feels wonderful.  Would recommend you try out one of your daydreams; makes cleaning out pretty easy AFTER you've experienced the benefits of living with less.  So basically the reverse of your plan to clear out and then go - I went and then cleared out!

Wow, that's awesome!  You have confirmed my suspicisons ....STUFF sucks!  Didn't think of reversing order in things.  Hmmm...

mistymoney

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Re: Any minimalists done a packing party? Looking for tips.
« Reply #12 on: August 03, 2019, 12:06:17 PM »
On the one hand, I do try to be a bit minimalist. I think clothes and kitchen gadgets are a good focus for culling for most people.

But - whenever I've forced myself to let something go, I've needed/wanted it down the road. Books, bicycle gear, heavy duty paper cutter (like you used in elementary years!).

And I don't know how most people think and process - but I don't need to box something up to know I haven't used it in 3 or 6 months.


afterthedark

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Re: Any minimalists done a packing party? Looking for tips.
« Reply #13 on: August 04, 2019, 09:31:50 AM »
I spent 5 months living out of my van this past winter in Arizona.   Had a FANTASTIC time.  Got back to my house and was overwhelmed by ALL THE STUFF.  Got rid of all the crap stuffed in drawers, cupboards,  closets, etc and it feels wonderful.  Would recommend you try out one of your daydreams; makes cleaning out pretty easy AFTER you've experienced the benefits of living with less.  So basically the reverse of your plan to clear out and then go - I went and then cleared out!

Wow, that's awesome!  You have confirmed my suspicisons ....STUFF sucks!  Didn't think of reversing order in things.  Hmmm...

I agree with Cannot Wait that trying out some of your ideas before getting rid of stuff might make the downsizing easier. I put my stuff in storage for 18 months while travelling and going back to college and that helped me think about what Iím happy having or not.

That was just the start for me though and another big help was watching many, many YouTube videos of people living those different types of lives you are interested in. There are so many channels of people permanently travelling with one bag of possessions, or living in tiny houses or vans or whatever downsizing might mean to you. It can help focus on what is important to you, because we all have different things that matter to us. It also helps you to realise that there are many people out there that arenít living that Ďnormalí North American life you mentioned. Before the internet we only got to see how our immediate circle and fictional tv characters were living.

It might help your wife get more onboard with getting rid of stuff if it was about the experiences or life you can have rather than focusing on the stuff itself, especially as you say you have the room at the moment.

fidgiegirl

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Re: Any minimalists done a packing party? Looking for tips.
« Reply #14 on: August 04, 2019, 09:46:13 AM »
Where I wish I'd done something like this was when my hubby and I got married and I moved into his already decorated, already furnished small house.  We always felt cramped in there, and ended up moving.  But I've said a time or two that what if we'd removed everything and started from a blank slate, with thoughtfully chosen furniture (not just whatever was free or cheap like he had), less on the walls, painting a different color, etc.  But we ended up moving a few years later.

RetiredAt63

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Re: Any minimalists done a packing party? Looking for tips.
« Reply #15 on: August 04, 2019, 10:12:27 AM »
You might try it room by room.  When my sister had her kitchen redone all the kitchen stuff ended up in the dining room.  As she needed something she went and got it, and stored it in a convenient place.  At the end she had things in the dining room that were only used occasionally and could be stored in inconvenient places, and things that were not used at all and could be disposed of.  Plus the things she used a lot got the best storage spots, so her kitchen was much more functional.

red_pill

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Re: Any minimalists done a packing party? Looking for tips.
« Reply #16 on: August 04, 2019, 06:03:38 PM »
You might try it room by room.  When my sister had her kitchen redone all the kitchen stuff ended up in the dining room.  As she needed something she went and got it, and stored it in a convenient place.  At the end she had things in the dining room that were only used occasionally and could be stored in inconvenient places, and things that were not used at all and could be disposed of.  Plus the things she used a lot got the best storage spots, so her kitchen was much more functional.

That's a great idea!  And way less impact than the full house all at once version.  And a bit less weird than boxing up all of our possessions. Lol  I also like @RyanAtTanagra idea of emptying out a bedroom if scaling down from a 3 bedroom to 2. 

Thanks!  I'll probably apply these when we launch on this initiative.