The final part of the minimalism blog series. I’m hoping I’ve given some convincing evidence as to why you should try this lifestyle, but I’ve summed it up in this last blog and also included a little bit on how to get started with your own journey to living with less.
Why you should consider minimalism
The previous blogs in this series have covered a large range of reasons as to why minimalism is so great an idea, so I think it is definitely worth considering. Who wouldn’t want a lovely, tidy house that’s easy to clean, the ease of picking out your outfits every day, the ease of travelling with one bag or even just the money it saves you over time? Minimalism is also proven in some cases to reduce anxiety because for all the reasons I’ve just mentioned, you spend a whole lot less time worrying. Less worry about where things are because you only have your favourite things, a lot less worry about your finances because you’re not spending money on useless stuff, and when it comes to travelling, a whole lot less worry about your bags not making connecting flights or just getting lost because all your stuff is with you in the cabin.
Other benefits to minimalism can include better time management, although I’m yet to achieve this. Time management can be greatly improved when distractions are removed from your life, especially distractions that don’t add value to your life. Minimalism, when practiced to its full potential can teach you self-discipline so that you are able to use your time and space more effectively. A minimalist desk set-up (only having the things you need in sight) can really help to diminish distractions. While you’re working, do you really need your phone nearby with constant notifications and distractions popping up, or could you leave your phone somewhere else or upside down and on silent so that it doesn’t disturb you? If your work requires your phone, by all means it needs to be there with you, however, for me I find it incredibly distracting, so at times when I’m working, such as writing the blogs, I will leave my phone on silent and put the screen face down so that I can’t see the notifications popping up, therefore distracting me less.
You don’t have to be restrictive as I’ve said before but be more mindful and intentional about what you have and bring into your life. Even if you don’t stick to living this lifestyle, in my opinion I think you should at least give it a little go to see how you feel. Whether it’s in an extreme form where you only give yourself access to a few things for a week or something, or if you follow the process to truly minimising your possessions. There are many different ways to be a minimalist and it never has to be extreme or make you uncomfortable; I am in no way an extreme minimalist, I have way more than 100 possessions still, however, it’s my consumerist mindset that’s changed and I hardly ever purchase things unless I absolutely need them in my life (unless it’s wildlife books, but then I’ll still only buy 1 or 2 at a time).
How to start/ The process
Starting your decluttering journey can be tough, especially if you don’t know where to start or how to make the process easier on yourself. There are a number of different techniques out there on the internet, the two most famous being the kon-marie method, or the 30-day minimalist game. The kon-marie method focuses on different categories, rather than different areas and was developed by a Japanese woman called Marie Kondo. There is a book you can pick up which goes through Marie Kondo’s method called “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying”. The book goes through the categories to tidy, the thought process during decluttering, which in Marie’s case concentrates on the idea of your items “sparking joy”, and also organisation ideas for when you’ve finished decluttering. There are so many topics covered in this book that I think it’s definitely a good idea to pick up for yourself if you’re unsure of where to start in your minimalism journey.
The 30-day minimalism game was designed by two best friends Joshua Fields-Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus, otherwise known as “The Minimalists”. This process doesn’t require you to start in any specific area, or with any specific category, but just the number of items you’re decluttering. The game works like this, on day 1, you declutter 1 item, on day 2, you declutter 2 items, and so on and so forth. So at the end on day 30, you declutter 30 items in that day, making this a good challenge to start on the first day of a new month. You then declutter the appropriate number of items each day, you could even go to 31 days on a longer month, meaning by the end you will have decluttered 465 items by the end of a 30-day month, or 496 by the end of a 31-day month. This could be a good thing to do if you kind of know the items you want to get rid of, but they’re all from different categories.
My process of decluttering didn’t really follow either of these methods, but it worked for me. I sort of went room by room, rather than by category as it was easier to re-organise after the declutter rather than moving things to one room, decluttering and then having to re-organise the entire house again. I first started with my clothes, a fairly good base to start for anyone really as clothing tends to have the largest amount of items with the least use or purpose. If you’re anything like me and stopped growing before the age of 13, the clothes just pile up because everything still fits you. In the end, I think I decluttered something like 8 bin-bags of clothes between my house and my parents house. I kept buying clothes that weren’t things I would wear which included dresses, skirts, shorts, frilly and girly tops, pink clothes, purple clothes you name it. If it looked cute and girly, it was somewhere at the back of my wardrobe or chest-of-draws, unworn and unseen for many years. I am now very much aware of what my “style” is, be it lacking in fashionable sense but it’s comfortable and it’s what I like. My style is very much baggy t-shirts and trackies (or cargo trousers), but most definitely my khakis (if only I lived in Africa, I wouldn’t wear anything other than khakis). So knowing my style and what my favourite clothes are made it incredibly easy to declutter, the dresses were gone (I still own 2 or 3 for when absolutely necessary), skirts, crop tops, anything pink or purple, all gone and it’s surprising how much of that cr*p I had. Just think of the money I could have saved by not buying all that stuff I was never going to wear!
I decluttered my shoes next, I think there’s still a couple pairs I’m probably not in need of anymore, but I wear through my shoes fairly frequently because I only have 5 pairs I wear on a regular basis, plus 2 pairs of high-heels for dressing up (plus I’m 5’2” which makes pictures with the bf easier when I add some height), and a couple extra pairs of shoes. Still quite a few shoes, but nowhere near the 35-40 odd pairs I used to own.
So I guess my process is going through a category in a specific area, this means you can work at your own speed without getting overwhelmed by the process. Sentimental items are the hardest category to declutter and most minimalists will suggest decluttering these things last as you will have built up some practice on your general decluttering techniques by the time you get to these things. In my mind, I would say that you should declutter these things when you’re ready, no one else can tell you when to get rid of things or what to get rid of, this is your journey and everyone else should respect that.
Before you start decluttering, remember to set those goals I mentioned in a previous blog in this series, this will really help you to make decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of. But now that you’ve decluttered and have massive piles and bags of stuff to get rid of, what do you do with all of it? For clothing that’s in good condition but not new, donate it, there will be someone out there who will greatly appreciate finding it in their local charity shop; if it’s unworn and still has the tags, sell it, make a bit of money back for that useless item you bought but never used. With most things, selling or donating is a good way to get it out of your house, but keeps it out of landfill. If it’s old paper, get them shredded or send to recycling, only really worn out, unusable, and unrecyclable items should be sent to landfill, although there are many ways to repurpose a bunch of different things and I’m sure in this instance google would be a great help. Try and do everything you can to not send things to landfill as it will really help out the environment, but once you’ve decluttered, remember how tough the process was and how difficult it was to clear everything out of your house before going and splashing the cash on things you don’t need again.
Some YouTube channels I find are really useful and inspiring to watch when it comes to minimalism are:
- The Minimalists
- Matt D’Avella
- Break the Twitch
- Clear Your Mindset
- Heal Your Living
- Simple Victoria
- Marie Kondo