Simple Steps to Finally Get Rid of Those Boxes
This one might strike a nerve, amigos. Or three.
But since I can’t see you and you can’t reach me… we gonna get down the nitty-gritty of our containers. Yes, those containers. His, hers, mine and yours.
The cardboard boxes… the plastic bins… the forgotten… the ignored… all of it.
So here’s the question on the awkward table between us: If God impressed upon your heart a move—across town, across the country, to another country—how soon could you pack up and get out?
I don’t want to be known for my stuff. But if I’m in a constant state of avoiding piles, adding more boxes to the rafters and building more storage, it’s probably time to re-evaluate where my treasure (and heart) is.
Yes, I’m talking to myself. It’s a constant struggle and I’m weary.
We recently moved into a new-to-us house with fresh paint and clean surfaces, and I have zero intention of filling every nook and cranny. I want our space to feel open… fresh… uncluttered.
But now that we’ve lived here for two months I realize we’re functioning fine without the remaining 36 boxes, still stacked, mocking us from three different rooms.
Did I say 36? Sorry—I meant 63.
Actually, I got embarrassed and stopped counting. Ugh.
Don’t judge. You know you’d like to see inside this one:
How long have you lived in your house/apartment/condo/trailer? Any bins you haven’t unpacked yet? Any boxes you’re storing because you don’t want to deal with what you might find?
On becomingminimalist.com, Joshua Becker points out some obvious but helpful keys to paring down. “Want a cleaner home? Own less stuff. It works every time.”
He and his wife made the decision years ago to pare down. Sometimes they get asked, “Do you think you’ll always live with a minimal number of possessions?” His response is always the same, “Oh yeah, I’m never going back. There’s just too much joy and freedom on this side.”
Joy and freedom? Si, por favor!
In an interview about stuff and junk, Derek Naylor, president of the consultant group Storage Marketing Solutions, told Joshua Becker,
“Human laziness has always been a big friend of self-storage operators. Because once they’re in, nobody likes to spend all day moving their stuff out of storage. As long as they can afford it, and feel psychologically that they can afford it, they’ll leave that stuff in there forever.”
I’m aware storage facilities are necessary when moving or floating between dwellings, but regularly paying for an off-site location to keep a bunch of stuff I don’t use? Not a fan.
The psychology behind keeping paraphernalia we don’t use fascinates me.
- For some of us, it’s because we have a large basement/attic/garage. If it all fits, there’s no urgency to weed out. (Do you see me raising my hand?)
- For some, it’s because we’ve bought into the American notion that storage facilities are a brilliant idea.
- For some it’s guilt; getting rid of things would disappoint others. (Uhh… raising my hand again.) If you’ve ever contemplated the idea of pitching but then regressed, you’re not alone.
What if sad ceramic clowns come back in style?
If there’s a massive earthquake, my AM/FM walkman will be our only connection to the outside world.
But Aunt Fay made this rainbow throw for our wedding.
If we ever relocate I’m definitely going to need that trash bag of packing popcorn.
National Geographic is educational and I might want to read those articles from 1997 again.
My grandma might write me out of the will if I got rid of that mauve chafing dish.
Now that we’re motivated, we take action. Don’t you dare stop reading here; this is the fun part.
Step 1: Bring box #1 to your busiest, most crowded family hangout room. Location is key—trust me.
Go ahead… I’ll wait.
Step 2: Take out every single item. Yes—all of it. For a fun time with non-breakables, dump box upside down and squeal, “Wheeeeeee!”
If someone asks what you’re doing, tell them you’re searching for your treasure. If you have small pirates, enlist their help.
Since I’ve been walking past this disastrous box about twelve times a day for eight weeks, I started in my bathroom:
Step 3: Crush box and put in recycler. Don’t neglect this step; it’s crucial to your success. If it’s a bin, put the lid back on and take it out to the garage/shed/greenhouse/basement/barn.
Step 4: Deal with your exciting pile until everything has a new home. (Salvation Army, neighbor kid, garage sale, round file.)
Step 5: Recover for an hour. (Or a day.) You did it! Pretty incredible feeling, huh?
Step 6: Grab box #2 and repeat Steps 1-5.
This is not a drill, friend. Please move to your nearest neglected container and begin.
Clear vs. Cardboard
“I don’t like clear bins ‘cause all my stuff looks junky in them.”
I felt the same. If you’re storing junk, then yes—your clear bins will look junky.
Perhaps you don’t think your stuff is junk though, and are thrilled about how your swan candlesticks and Laura Ashley floral pillows look in the bin. But if you’re not using those treasures… donate or sell them. Like, today.
When a friend told me about OfferUp and Facebook Marketplace, I knew I found my outlets. I had 22 items for sale this week, and I’m making way more money than at garage sales. Boom.
Save your bin space for the things you actually use at least on a yearly basis. Like…
- Camping supplies! (If you truly camp.)
- Holiday decor!
- Beach and pool toys!
- Old hacky sacks! (No—not those.)
Here’s my plug for plastic over cardboard, and clear over colored:
- If you ever have a small flood (been there), your cardboard boxes will go from strong to weak in 1.5 minutes. Bins can wade and float.
- Most critters love cardboard but can’t eat through heavy-duty plastic.
- Finding what you’re looking for is so much easier when your bins are see-through.
Now that our weather’s warm I’m ready to pack winter goods and stick them up where they’ll keep each other company till November. So these are sitting in my Amazon cart this week, competing for my new closet:
Wanna take ’em for a spin? Click one and we’ll be twinsies. Click both and you’ll be ridiculously organized.
I couldn’t hear you the first time, so here’s that super fun question again:
If God impressed upon your heart a move—across town, across the country, to another country—how fast could you pack up and get out?
Seriously—without an army of college students packing your place, how long would it take to sift through every possession and get you into a moving truck? Thirteen days? A month? Baseball season?
If your answer lies somewhere between next fall and the next Olympics, maybe it’s time for us both to tackle our boxes like Joshua and Kim Becker did. Did I mention they’re Christians?
Yep–clutter-free, Jesus-lovers who aren’t afraid to let people into every part of their home. What a glorious combo. Much more attractive than locking the door and sucking your thumb in the garage.
“We are not here to possess the world. We are here to show, by how we use the world, that Christ is more precious than the world.” – John Piper
How are you using the world?
How are you using your possessions?
Would you like to send me a picture of your empty box so I can celebrate with you? Feel free.
You can do it! Yes, you can.
Great post! Glad you’re making progress.
I have some work to do. 🙁 I like your step by step process. I will have to try that. Maybe a summer project?????
Miss you guys down here. Glad you’re getting settled up there. Saludos y bendiciones a todos. 🙂
Gracias, amiga. Yes, summer projects are the best–especially when you enlist the help of certain offspring. 🙂 Miss you guys too. You know you’re always welcome to come visit!
Thanks Carrie most of my boxes are old photos working on it. Trying to keep the rooms clean and less it is a challenge. Love you guys
Oh, Erin… old photos are probably my worst storage issue! I have so many good intentions about getting to them someday soon. Good on ya for keeping up with keeping less! Love you guys too.
Hey! I don’t know if it was intentional but finding your blog on Saturday mornings works for me! I can actually read it all the way through with no interruptions. I appreciate the encouragement to de-clutter. I am not a hoarder or a pack rat but STILL have too much stuff I don’t need. I struggle with “I might need that for a project” syndrome. Two things that have been very helpful is: If I can replace it for less than $10 if a future need arises, get rid of it. And the scriptures Matt. 6:19 and 6:34. Not worrying about tomorrow when today has enough to worry about is freeing. The calling of today is what we need to answer and he surely provides Manna each day. Storing up treasures couldn’t be more clear, eh? So I’m calling my oldest brother today to tell him to come get the Encyclopedias that we grew up with out of my garage. 🙂 We didn’t even talk about storing other people’s stuff! LOL
Hey! I usually try to post every other Saturday morning, but sometimes life happens. 🙂 Thanks for reading!
I’m in the same boat–not a hoarder or packrat, but still have too much stuff too. And I deal with the same reasons! I think my desire to be thrifty keeps me holding onto things because I don’t want to waste money buying it again. But more often than not, I would never end up buying it again, so what am I waiting for?
Great verse reminders. So true! Proud of you for calling your brother about those Encyclopedias. Pretty positive you will not miss them! 🙂
1. Our local storage place has a neon sign, “Hoarders Welcome!”.
2. The guilt factor is HUGE. I am getting better about it, but does some things there is that thought of Grama coming to the house and wondering where that gigantic crystal bowl with fruits in relief is. Thankfully my mom and I have has several Frank discussions about all of the ancestral items she has and which I truly want in 25 years when they go. One item. I already have several antiques and Bobby has several of his grandma’s paintings. We’re good and we’re done.
3. Stuff is tearing my in-laws apart. 46 years into marriage and their house, three car garage and attic are so full they built their own storage place in the backyard. Each believes the other has more and is responsible for the mess. Bobby and his siblings tell them over and over, “We don’t want it! Sell it now and it will be worth more than the supposed inheritance from an estate sale”. Soooo hard.
4. I still have too much. Going to find that box now.
1. Oh my gosh, Shelley… that sign is hilarious.
2. Guilt factor is huge for me too. I’m impressed that you already have a plan!
3. Ugh–that’s rough. I’m sorry. I have a friend whose parents were clinical hoarders and it did a number on their family.
4. Me too. You are in very good company. So proud of you! Post me a picture on FB!
5. Thanks for stopping by!