In my last post, I talked about the ‘what‘ of minimalism.
This time, I’m going to focus on the tools and techniques of minimalism. The ‘how’ of minimalism is important if you’re going to gain the full benefit of living an intentional life but with less stuff.
This post is long and contains lots of useful links that you may wish to refer to again. Join my community to get access to a free PDF containing a durable version of this post.
So, where to begin?
My ‘Unclutter 2017‘ series of posts back in the New Year are a good place to start.
Throughout this series, we looked at various approaches, as set out below. The links will take you through to previous posts I’ve written on these tactics if you want to find out more:
- The ‘packing party’ – “Box it up” (anything you don’t retrieve from those boxes within the timescale of your choosing can be got rid of)
- Removing duplicates
- The ‘one in, one out approach’ (but I’d challenge you to try one in, two out!)
- Moving on and letting go of things that no longer serve you: Moving On
- Tidying up
- Keeping going through finding a new impetus
- Going electronic
- The 3 S’s of paperwork (how to deal with the paperwork you have to keep)
- And the ever-useful approach of getting rid of one thing on Day 1, two things on Day 2 and so on, known as the Mins Game
These are all practical ideas and I’d encourage you to get stuck in, if you haven’t yet discovered the benefits of decluttering, which is a key tenet of minimalism.
Help! I feel overwhelmed by the idea of decluttering!
Start with your wardrobe
If you feel totally overwhelmed and really don’t know where to start, I always say to start with your closet. Follow my 4-Step Wardrobe Edit process and you’ll immediately appreciate the benefits of an uncluttered space.
Ask for help
It may be that you really need some support, so don’t rule out the idea of enlisting someone to help or even employing a professional declutterer/organiser.
The Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers (APDO) is a useful place to start if you decide to enlist the help of a professional. Some professional organisers will even do the hard of work of taking unwanted items to the charity shop, thus saving you time and effort.
What about asking a friend to help?
This summer, my daughter and I are offering a decluttering service for friends, as part of her fundraising efforts towards her 2018 expedition to Costa Rica and Nicaragua. We enjoy working together and seeing the benefits of our labours and love helping others.
Get an accountability group or partner
Perhaps you need an accountability group or partner. Members of the Midlands Minimalist Community have access to my group in Better, an app developed as a way of harnessing Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies framework to create a better life.
Within Better, I’ve set up a Minimalism and Simple Living Group, as a way for us to interact, find mutual support, ask questions, get answers and (if we need it) get some accountability for our goals.
There’s more than the removal of practical clutter, however. There’s also ‘inner work’ to do.
Embracing a simpler, more meaningful way of life means not only an initial purge of stuff, but also a change of mindset.
This may seem like another hill to climb, but if you’ve already had a taste of the benefits, you may feel ready for some habit changing work!
Courtney Carver’s post But I Love Shopping epitomizes the kind of psychological struggle we go through when throwing off old habits. There’s little point in purging a high proportion of the items you own if you’re only going to re-fill the space within a matter of weeks or months.
Remember your ‘why’
Remind yourself of why you’re interested in minimalism and simple living in the first place. It might be that you’re committed to paying down your debt to get your finances in shape. Perhaps you just want to spend less time clearing up and more time having fun?
Living an intentional life requires a good understanding of oneself. For example, if you know that you spend more money on weekends, plan your time so that you’re not placed in a situation where this can happen.
Don’t be afraid to quit
I heard a quote from Oprah Winfrey recently. She said, “There comes a time in your life when you’re no longer where you’re meant to be.” I found this quite powerful.
Sometimes, saying no or intentionally moving on can reap benefits. I wrote about that here.
Where you are will mean different things to different people, but I do believe that it’s OK to change, to quit, to relinquish that which is no longer serving you. It can be hard to move on because that can mean saying goodbye or ‘au revoir’ to people you care about. But sometimes you have to do it.
Know that your life is the sum total of what you focus on
In her book, Rapt, Winifred Gallagher says, “…. the difference between ‘passing the time’ and ‘time well spent’ depends on making smart decisions about what to attend to in matters large and small.
Courtney Carver echoes this: “Usually time is not the problem, it’s priority.”
Consider these alternative realities
If you are prioritising shopping trips over a countryside walk, both your wallet and your Vitamin D levels will be depleted.
If you are continually moving piles of stuff from one place to the next, your life becomes one of clutter management. Get on top of it once and for all and you create space to do other things; things you’ll enjoy.
If you’re on your digital device 24/7, you’re with other people, but you’re not present.
See what I mean?
An intentional approach to life
Minimalism (in whatever form you choose) is a deliberate and intentional approach. The result creates a sense of lightness and freedom. What we do with that freedom is up to us.
That’s rather exciting, don’t you think?
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