We’ve talked about what minimalism is (to me) and why minimalism is something we should incorporate into our lives, but we haven’t talked much about HOW. I’ve expressed my concerns that, by focusing on the decluttering process, proponents of minimalism contribute to the misconception that minimalism is only for the privileged, which is the reason it hasn’t been the focus of my blog, but I think it’s time to discuss some of the things I use to help me declutter.
Categories, not areas
One thing I have personally found very helpful in decluttering the excess from my life is to concentrate on categories, not areas in a home. For example, I would concentrate on “clothes” rather than “closet” because there are also clothes in the drawers. I would concentrate on “office supplies” instead of “desk area” because there are other areas that have office supplies. This may not work for everyone, but I find makes it easy to see what I have across the entire category and get it all together.
An idea that is often promoted by the Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, is that if there’s an item that hasn’t been used in the last 90 days, and won’t be used in the next 90 days, it should be minimized. (Exceptions for seasonal items like winter clothing, etc., which will obviously be worn again when weather permits.) It doesn’t have to be 90 days–set a time limit and stick to it!
Would I buy this again?
Out of all of the tips and tricks to minimize the excess, my very unminimalist husband finds this the most helpful. Go “shopping” and contemplate whether that item would make it into the shopping cart today.
This is a test I find particularly helpful. Pretend the moving vans are outside. What is worth the effort to pack, load up in the van, and unpack?
I have minimized about 7 carloads worth of items from our small condo and I think about how much time, money and effort it would take to transport those carloads and carloads of items to the next place we move to had we not minimized. 7 carloads of stuff we don’t really care about that we probably would have just mindlessly moved.
If minimizing clothing is a struggle, turn all the hangers around. As each item is worn, turn that hanger the opposite way. In 3 months/6 months/1 year, consider donating what hasn’t been worn (With the exception of seasonal clothing that you know you will wear when that season comes back around).
Above all, remember: Minimizing and decluttering is to simplify and reduce stress in our lives. If decluttering is stressing us out or giving us anxiety, something is wrong in the process. We should try our best not to compare our houses to other people’s or whatever mental image of “minimalism” we have.
Most importantly, though, is to make a commitment to consume mindfully. Implement a shopping moratorium. Maybe a week or a month. Maybe try a whole year. After that no spend period helps identify spending triggers, spend more mindfully going forward. Ask for consumable gifts or simply the gift of presence. The best way to declutter is to control the amount of clutter coming in going forward.