Minimalism – Declutter your life

Over the last 2 or so years, I’ve been trying to get rid of stuff. Some of this has come about due to house moves and mainly due to two people moving into a flat together that has no storage. As someone once said to me –

“Storage. That’s what garages, basements and attics are for”

Spare Room Minimilism
The spare room!

Well, I have none of these, but what I do have is a spare room. However, I can now no longer go into the room due to the anxiety I get as soon as I enter.

Part of the lack of unpacking is the possibility of a spring/summer extension when everything will need to be repacked, so we just haven’t unpacked!

What it does show is that some of these boxes have now been in their current state for 18 months. If I’ve not needed the things in the boxes in the last 18 months, then do I need them at all?

As life gets busier and more hectic, people are looking for ways to simplify their lives. One of these ways is Minimalism.

If you’ve not heard of Minimalism, the easy answer is to say it’s about getting rid of stuff. But it’s not just that. As Marie Kondo says in her bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, it is about having items around you that bring joy to your life. Or as The Minimalists would say, things that bring value to your life.

An example of this for me is books. I used to say my most treasured possessions were my books. The books that have been stacked up in boxes for 18 months! What I was really saying is look at all the books I’ve read. Aren’t I interesting? Aren’t I well read? It was really for other people and to make me feel good about myself. I got value out of the books when I read them, but they are no longer providing me much value sitting on the shelf.

Kindles have kind of done away with the need for actual books, which i still love. But I wouldn’t have friends over and then hand them my Kindle to scroll through my library, but that is what I was doing with my books on the bookshelf. Aside – I still enjoy  perusing others books and CD collections.

I only used to enter runs and races that gave me a free technical t-shirt at the end. Do I need another technical t-shirt? How many do I really need? They just get stuffed in a drawer, never to be seen again. I have my favourite running tops. So the answer is no! I liked it at the end of the Ealing Half Marathon where they only gave me a medal, a bottle of water and a banana.

SO WHAT CAN GETTING RID OF STUFF DO FOR YOU?

Too much stuff can create anxiety. Like my spare room. I don’t even know where to start. It can worry you. It can create guilt. How long does the high from buying something new last before the guilt kicks in?

Having less stuff can help you focus on what’s important. Family, friends, your health.  It makes you be more intentional about things. It stops decision fatigue.

It gives you back some of your most precious commodity. Time.  Time to follow your passions.

Getting rid of stuff feels good. When you do it, there’s a sense of relief, like a weight being lifted off you. There’s less other stuff to think about. It clears the mind.

I still want nice things, and it’s okay the have things. But I want one nice thing (not ten) that brings joy and which I can’t wait to wear or use. My bike gives me this. Sadly gets in my way all the time and clutters my hallway, but it’s important to me.

Morzine Snowboarding
Gratuitous snowboarding shot!

I love snowboarding. A passion that comes with loads of paraphernalia that’s either extremely large or bulky. Having it when I go boarding brings me joy and value.

Once upon a time, I kept all my old running shoes, just in case. In case of what, I don’t know. But I haven’t thought about them once since I took about 5 pairs to the shoe-recycling bin.

There’s plenty of further information about Minimalism.

The Minimalists – they have a website, books, a podcast and a film. I highly recommend their book Everything that Remains.

They have plenty of great ideas such as a packing party where you put all your stuff into boxes and then only take out the things you need over the next month and then get rid of the rest.

Or the “more manageable” 30-Day Minimalism Game. With a family member or friend, on Day 1 you get rid of one thing each. On Day 2, you get rid of two things and so on. It soon gets hard and adds up.

The 20/20 Rule. If you can replace the just in case item for less than $20 (call it £15) in less than 20 minutes from our current location then you can actually donate, sell or recycle it.

If it all sounds a bit too much. Start a little smaller. Bring less stuff into your life. Be more conscious and deliberate about what you buy. Do you really need it, or do you just want it? Remember. Does it bring you joy or add value.

Do some digital decluttering. Start by decluttering your inbox. Unsubscribe from all those email lists you subscribed to years ago, never read and delete anyway. Less temptation and less stuff to bother with on your email.

If you are feeling a little overwhelmed and want to concentrate on the important things in your life. Donate, sell or recycle a few (or a lot) of things and see how you feel.

Let me know if you’ve decluttered and what benefits you found!

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