It’s been more than two years since I began blogging about minimalism and intentional living (and over four years since I began my own ‘Clearout of the Century’).
So, what I have learned in this time?
You have to be relentless in your pursuit of an uncluttered life. Even if you’re being intentional about what you bring into your home or work space, other people still give you stuff. You also acquire stuff.
Stuff (of all kinds) lands on your doormat most days. This is a constant truth, no matter how vigilant or mindful you may be. Just as nature abhors a vacuum, so ‘stuff’ will seek its way into your home like a weed filling a crack in the pavement.
Decluttering is an ongoing de-layering process
I always describe decluttering as though you are peeling the layers of an onion. Once you’ve removed the outer layers, you may need to maintain some momentum to keep that sense of lightness and freedom that you’ve begun to enjoy.
So, when a charity collection bag drops through your letterbox, go to your ‘goods out’ drawer and fill it ready for collection.
Your needs change over time
You’ll remember that, back in the winter, I took the decision to go ‘car free‘. Instead of carrying a leather tote bag from car to office, I switched to a rucksack, also using my handy cross-body bag for my purse, bus pass, phone and so on.
Have I used my trusty leather tote? Of course not. And I’m not going to, so I’ve listed that on eBay. You need stuff to function, but if it’s not being used, let it go.
Things need a consistent home
Recently, I have been helping clear the home of a relative who has died. I was struck by how similar the contents were of many of the drawers that we emptied. Why hadn’t there been one drawer for X and another for Y? The answer to this will never be clear, but this experience taught me that:
- Having one location for similar things means you won’t forget what you already have and end up buying duplicates (or triplicates!)
- You’ll maximise the space you have if you keep similar things together; they sit well alongside each other in the drawer (especially if you store them using the KonMari method)
- You won’t lose important documents, keys or information if you have a single place for items that go together. Check out my 3 S’s of Paperwork for some ideas about how to approach this.
Labelling avoids confusion and saves time
This reminds me. Keys must be labelled!
How often do you rummage through a drawer and come across a key for something…. but what? Label those keys, keep similar ones together (i.e. window keys) or use a distinctive key ring that everyone in the family recognises for a particular door or cupboard.
Go ‘all out’ or potter about – it’s up to you
For our recent foray into familial decluttering, there were 6 of us working consistently to a plan. In the space of a few hours, we went all out to declutter 3 downstairs rooms. If one of us had been doing it, you can imagine that this task would not only have been daunting; it would have taken a whole working week. In fact, I spoke to a colleague of mine who had been doing a similar task in her parents’ bungalow; it had taken her 20 whole days…..
Since you may or may not have 5 family helpers on hand at any one time to declutter your home, I recommend the slower route. Pottering about the house can achieve very good results, but in a more mindful or leisurely way. American cousins, I believe you call this ‘puttering’. Whatever – you’ll achieve your goals and enjoy seeing your space free of clutter.
What you own really does own you
Whether it’s a work outfit that needs dry-cleaning or a car that needs fuel, new tyres or its annual service, the old adage is true: what you own owns you. The less you own, the less you have to worry about.
I can’t tell you what a joy it’s been to walk to the bus each morning, hop on, read my book or catch up with colleagues, then simply hop off on reaching work. Earlier this week, for my 5 mile journey, the bus arrived in Kenilworth at 07:41. I was on campus at the University where I work at 07:56. Brilliant! No need to find a parking space, no need to worry about traffic. Wonderful!
Minimalism impacts positively on other areas of your life
Whether it’s money, personal development, living in a more environmentally-conscious way or helping others, adopting a minimalist lifestyle can really make a difference in all areas of your life.
As I have written in previous blog posts such as this one, external clutter can point to something going on in your life beneath the surface. When you find you are able to let go, it’s possible to discover that living a life with less can really mean a whole lot more.
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