Recently, in the last decade or so, there has been quite a buzz around the concept of minimalism, and for good reason. For many of us, our homes and schedules might feel chaotic, overstuffed, and lacking space. We’re likely looking for some form of relief in this regard. As with many fads, there are great ideas and inspiration we might want to incorporate into our own lives, but we’re confronted with extreme all-or-nothing examples that might discourage us from making changes.
I could go on at length regarding this topic, so I’ve broken this post down into two parts. Today, I’ll be talking about what minimalism can mean for us in the physical sense - the stuff. In the next post, I’ll talk about what minimalism means for us regarding time and how we perceive and manage it. Minimalism comes up a lot when I’m working with clients, and I’d love to share with you some guiding principles I use to help them on their decluttering and organizing journeys:
It looks different for everyone.
In my opinion, this is the most important thing to keep in mind - think of how boring life would be if we all strived to be the same! Your home doesn’t have to be painted all white, with only one piece of art on the wall. You don’t need a black and white only wardrobe, with a certain number of items to adopt a minimalist approach and mindset. I would like to note that if that’s your style, and you feel like it really reflects you, then go for it! It’s best to just be yourself and honor your own style and preferences - in my opinion, that’s the sustainable approach for lasting habits and a lifestyle you feel good about long term.
Focus on what you have and what you do, rather than what you don’t have.
This is a fairly universal mindset approach among organizers I speak with, as well as the more well-known ones who have published books. It’s helpful to get clear on your natural habits, lifestyle, and preferences in order to inform your decisions on what you’d like easy access to while sorting through everything. Think about your current circumstances. Chances are, you already have everything you need to live a comfortable, healthy, happy lifestyle.
Release the uneccesary to free up space.
Once we’re clear on what we have and what we need to live our ideal lifestyle, we’re able to separate out the clutter. Releasing items that are no longer useful can be very easy for some, while others might be a bit more cautious. There is no “right” amount of items to be kept, and in order for lasting change, you have to do what works for you in this very moment. At the very least, I encourage creating zones within each room in your home for easy access to items you use on a regular basis. With time, and some more evaluation, someone who was hesitant to release clutter becomes ready. I like to compare this to peeling back the layers of an onion, and this sort of approach has worked for many people who consider themselves more sentimental.
Be as intentional as possible when bringing new items into your home.
There’s an ebb and flow when it comes to the stuff in our homes. Each year, there are birthdays, holidays, and special occasions, items that need repairing, and upgrading. It would be considered rude to refuse a gift up front, but we do have control over what we shop for. One useful habit I’ve passed along is keeping a list of things I actually need and then others I want. It may sound silly, but I put things like new sunglasses and a plant stand on my list. I wouldn’t consider these items crucial for everyday living, but they might improve my quality of life a little. Having a list before going into the store helps me stay on track and avoid impulse purchases, which is great for saving time and energy.
Whatever your situation, if you feel burdened by your stuff, I encourage you to continue on your decluttering journey until you reach a balance point. What minimalism means to me in the physical sense is living within a “sweet spot,” where you know what you have, and can reasonably manage it.
Want to pare down but don't know where to begin? I'd love to help! Feel free to reach out so we can problem solve together.