While I don’t recommend downsizing a subsection of items without consideration of the bigger picture, there is a value in completing small organizing projects. Mini-projects may miss the efficiencies and holistic nature gained by the visioning of a larger downsizing effort, but they may be right for you in certain circumstances. They are helpful if you already have a fairly downsized or organized space, only little blocks of time here and there, or aren’t quite ready for an overhaul and need to build confidence and momentum first.
Some of these mini-projects are easily combined or have overlapping rules and strategies. Most of these can take less than an hour.
Coupons: Gather these from all the nooks and crannies of your home. Get rid of all the expired ones and ones you kept for products you don’t typically purchase. Only keep ones for items or stores you use regularly, if you keep any at all. Put the ones you’ll use in an envelope in your car so you’ll never forget them. If you don’t drive, put them in the bag you regularly use.
Wallet: Re-evaluate all of your credit and debit cards. Decide whether you want to move toward a cashless system. Remove all receipts and come up with a maintainable plan for them (ex. throw out ones for non-returnable items, designate a place in your home to store the ones you keep).
Daily bag: Go through all items in it, paring down as much as possible. Then, upon arriving home each day, take out any items that shouldn’t stay in it: water bottles/food items, papers, trash, etc. Hang it in a consistent place. If you have multiple bags, consider reducing to one.
Items requiring special disposal: Research your city’s disposal options. Collect items that are bound for household hazardous waste, e-waste, and bulk pickup. Determine whether other items can be reused at a local creative reuse shop or building material reuse center. Collect old computers and determine if they can be donated, otherwise, recycle. Arrange a pick up for old furniture donations. Donate unused toiletries to a homeless shelter.
Items to mend or fix: While it’s always better to fix than throw away, this is only true if you actually fix the item and it’s not lingering, attached to your empty promise. Collect these items, determine the steps to have them repaired and make a plan for how and when this work will be completed.
Paper filing first pass: Before you start what may be a larger task, break out the first step into a mini-project. Take a cursory view of all your files, pulling out papers that can be easily recycled or set aside for shredding. Determine what tasks must be completed before the next step (ex. ask your accountant about what financial documents to keep, determine where you will get papers shredded, discuss items with your significant other).
That one box: We all have at least one box or bin that is either a bit of a mystery from a previous move, is filled with minutiae, or is emotionally-laden. Overcome the mental block and go through each item in the box. Give items a new home or dispose of them. Hold yourself to the decision-making involved, however laborious.
Junk drawer: I don’t see the purpose in having a junk drawer. It doesn’t hold you accountable to consider an item’s purpose or make retrieving items easy. It’s time to undo and eradicate this drawer from your home. Get rid of the items in it that you don’t need and re-home the ones you want to keep. If it’s helpful to purchase a drawer organizer for the items that remain (ex. if it becomes a drawer for office supplies), go ahead and treat yourself.
Some of these mini-projects may not apply to you, or perhaps they’ve got you thinking about other potential mini-projects. Regardless, see how it feels to complete at least one project. Does it build your excitement to complete more mini-projects? Are you ready to initiate a larger downsizing project now? Do you simply feel satisfied in the moment? Either way, consider it progress toward a simpler life.