Tag Archives: Downsizing

Sorting Small Items

After we moved across states we found we were not as organized as one would like.  Similar or same items were in various boxes and places.  To continue our downsizing we first needed to get rid of duplicates and unnecessary items.  We had a shelf I began filling with boxes purchased at Michael’s which I labeled with various titles such as light bulbs, remotes, hair supplies, etc.  These were various things that would end up throughout the house which slowly began to be grouped together.  I found the different colors and patterns helped me find the right box quickly in addition to arranging them alphabetically.  As an item was dealt with I’d make a different label.

I used my coupons of 40% off on a weekly basis to amass my collection.  Eventually all items in these boxes were dealt with and they went on to hold and organize other things.  Now only a few boxes remain.  The photo was taken in 2012.

I really liked this system and it did help me to whittle down the small loose stuff.

I blew up a photo to read the old labels and thought I’d list them here to give you an idea of how I used them (I could get 3 lines on a label, I list them horizontally here):

Cell Phones, Cell Chargers, Cell Headsets

Clothes Pins

Crochet and Craft, Etc.

Film, Tapes, Etc.

Flash Drives, Scan Discs, Floppy Discs & Drive (<— old huh!!)

Garmin GPS

House Phones and 2-way Radios


Kodak Camera

Misc. Business Cards, Etc.

Monster Cables



Office Supplies – Misc. Staples, Etc.

Pens & Pencils

Rechargeable Batteries & Chargers




Sony Direct DVD



USB Cables

Zippers & Elastic

Plus 2 blanks for misc. sorting.

So whatever you tend to have a lot of and is small makes for a good label.  This helped me find missing parts to electronics and other items.

Then you kind of duplicate this system using bigger boxes for other items one needs to deal with until one day you can put the sorting away and move the few items left into your tiny house.


Downsizing: Chameleon Bookshelf Tool

Step into my world … the continual changing of the items held in the physical space of my home.  It’s part of the Journey To Getting There and the “there” is fulltime RVing.

2 Bookshelf Downsizing Sorting Space

Bookshelves for sorting to downsize.
Sorting shelves for condensing and dispensing.

Above is my normal bedroom mess and ongoing downsizing project.  I’ll be doing a video shortly and even if that video is taken tomorrow you will likely see a significant change in the appearance of the above.  It is continually changing as  items are dealt with.   What goes on the shelf primarily represents items I would like to bring if I have the space, but it also holds items which I am in the process of disposing of.  For example, the top shelf holds a box of photos and slides I want to scan as well as a CD collection I am transferring to flash drives.

Bins Versus Bags

On the left next to one bookshelf you’ll notice some plastic bins which are currently holding clothing .  I discovered that flexible  cloth or vinyl bags will hold so much more than ridgid stackable bins.  And the best bags I found for holding large amounts – such as every top a woman owns in one bag, are called weekender bags.

Weekemder Bag and In-line luggage photo.
Pink weekender bag next to in-line tier luggage on couch.

Target online has been carrying a good selection of women’s weekender bags.   For the men I found some good-size duffle bags on Amazon that show promise.  Aside from clothing I am using a weekender bag for my sheets and a Trader Joe’s Bag for dish towels and such.  Insulated lunch bags are good for small electronics .  The variety of patterns of bags makes it easy to find what one is searching for.  Learning where things are now is much easier then learning on the road.  Some things will be transferred to cupboards but the change of seasonal clothing is still likely to be stored in the RV bin until needed. The ability to fold the  bag material down to conserve storage space is a plus.

Why am I packing so far in advance of going?

The two largest pieces of furniture we own are a long maple dresser and a two-piece maple hutch with glass shelves on the top portion.  These two items can hold a boatload of items and clothing.  Things that would stay hidden and not dealt with.  Things one isn’t even sure of what one has because it is hidden or just sitting on a shelf  or in a drawer and forgotten.

By removing these two items now (1) we have plenty of time to sell the pieces instead of giving them away on moving day and (2) we are forced to deal with every single item now and get it over with.  I’ll be doing videos showing various ways I have packed items to make it easy to function with now and to make take-off time a piece of cake.

In the meantime, my best advice to you if you are on the same journey, is to save boxes, bags, etc.  to use as you downsize.  One single item might end up in 5 different places as you find it fits better elsewhere then where you put it last week.  Dealing with your stuff over and over makes you realize :

  • if you need it or not
  • if it is convenient to get to
  • if it is in a place you will find it later

And finally, the number one reason to deal with your stuff well before your trip is to realize how much you are willing to give up or not.  You might have your eye on the low price tag of that single-axle cute red and white trailer but find you need more than 800 pounds of cargo weight and a bit more storage and start shopping for a dual axle that will accommodate you. and what you want to bring besides food, water and clothes.   Then you will know if your tow vehicle is adequate.

Journey To Getting There: CDs and DVDs

Saving space with CDs by trashing the plastic cases.
Trashing the cases and condensing the music.

Entertainment on the road is helpful, especially when weather outside is not user friendly, and if you are like me music is a frequent friend even in good weather.  Being now in our 60’s, our album collection was long ago disposed of but our CD collection is pretty good size.  While playlists are fine and great there are times I want a CD either to play from start to finish or put it on the song I want to hear.  Part of the Journey To Getting there has been digitalizing our music so it is one of the things on the list that periodically I pick up the project and work on it.

Probably most of the younger generation already have the majority of their music digitalized as they likely bought it that way.  Not knowing when I will finish my project the first thing I did was cut the music collection down to a size that fits in a bin I can cover and measures about 12′ x 17″ and about 8″ high.  I did this by removing all plastic, folding the paper album cover and content info that comes with, and placing in quart zip baggies.  Not one baggy per CD but pretty much A through Z with the CD’s placed alphabetically.  There are a few bands that get their own labeled bag such as, say Boz Scaggs or The Beatles who have several CDs.  So one bag with 5 CDs takes up about as much width as one CD plastic case.  Thus I quickly downsized my collection to  at least 1/4th of it’s original size.

Should I not finish my project before we are ready to pack and leave, the collection is ready to come with us.  Continuing the project would be one of those things to do when it’s raining outside and we are inside and bored.  Ideally, I would digitalize all the albums before we leave and give our collection to someone we love because we are going to travel without a storage unit to return to.

DVD cases are even larger but our movie collection is handled in the same way.  Knowing that we were going to be taking this trip we have been collecting movies that we like for some time, taking advantage of those $5 and $7 finds in the WalMart bins and ordering others we cannot find online through Amazon (where else can one find “Enemy Mine” or the documentary “The Afterlife Investigations, The Scole Experiments” if not through Amazon resources – our bookstore only stocks what they think we want to buy and their thinking kind of sucks.

I looked for a couple of years for a portable stereo to bring with.  I know the trailer will likely come with a bluetooth/mp3 player but I want it all and settled on a Samsung GIGA with remote that plays it all, including CDs, radio, bluetooth, mps, has dual flash drive inputs.  It is one of the items that I should not bring with because of the room it takes up but it is one of the items that I will find a way.  Wayne is going to build me something that keeps all 3 pieces together so I can easily move it and I’m going to make a waterproof cover for it.

Currently the movies are in an insulated Trader Joe’s bag for easy moving around and keeping it probably 10 degrees cooler.  I’ll either add reflex insulation to my CD box or transfer the CDs to a similar insulated bag.  As we don’t yet have the RV we will be traveling in we’ll wait and see what works best for the situation.

Flash Drive Filing System
Character flash drives provide a great filing system. Marvin Martian on top stores rock out Rock N Roll while little snowman on the bottom keeps our Christmas music.

I love those characters that are molded around flash drives.  I currently have Snoopy, a green singing frog, Batman, Batwoman, an Owl and Marvin Martian.  These are great for sorting what you are looking for.  For example, the frog has books on tape (he also has a microphone).  Snoopy is most of my music.  Marvin Martian is rock out Rock & Roll, a snowman keeps our Christmas music. What is nice is that the pickup has flash drive input for the stereo.


Journey To Getting There: Downsizing

The stuffed animal is 2″ high, the flowers 3″ and the doll 6″ Wayne gave me the dolll after I gave up two beautiful porcelin native american lifesize babydolls. I gave him the miniture stuffed animal and tiny crystal like flowers when he had surgery. All 3 items together are likely smaller than one glass flower vace would be to store.

Although we had been quiet for a long time between September 2016 and present time we have been quite busy working on the goal.  Both of us have known since the late 1970’s that one day we would retire and take off and we’ve known since the late 1980’s that we would do that together.  Too bad we didn’t know about downsizing back then as we continued to gather and accumulate for both personal and business lives.  We started to get serious about it in 2007 and find it surprising how long it can take if one is environmentally conscious instead of calling in a dumpster.  We’ve had several businesses along the way which accumulated left over inventory so along with things gathered through age we had some best left in a storage locker.

Gradually our thinking changed and we cut way back on the buying knowing we would likely have to let it go down the line.  We thought more about purchases than we ever did before.  Sometimes even little things were converted to the cause like a hospital stay gift of a 3″ stuff animal in lieu of the usual pillow size square inch hog of stuffing.

After a move across state lines we thought we had given away everything except what we might need but that was a lie.  Sometimes creative people surround themselves with tools to work with and in our case it was lots and lots of toys with a variety of subject matter to flit from project to project instead of diving seriously into one or two things.

As the time to retire comes closer and closer we tend to make quicker decisions about what will go and what will not.  And our plan is to experience true freedom by not being tied to a storage unit which will require returning to now and then and moving at least once down the line.  This summer will see the letting go of maple dressors and living out of suitcases for a year.  Bigger items will be let go of than the those of past.  And our pile for October’s Earth Day continues to grow as do the donation boxes.  Soon the garage will be cleared out for Garage Sale Day and hopefully the Class B will be out of the driveway with a new owner.

The Journey series will be comentary on our journey towards our take off day.  We continue to put in place our web links and information so that we will have them handy when we are on the road.  A lot of them will be handy for many of you so enjoy!  (And subscribe!)