There is no reason I should own as much stuff as I do. I lived in the same bedroom for the first 22 years of my life, where I couldn’t accumulate that much stuff and then when Nigel and I moved to Ontario 17 months ago, we barely filled up half of a U-Haul box. Yet I feel like I am constantly finding things that I don’t need and feeling like I have too much stuff.
I quite often have a pile of things ready to go to the nearest thrift store, but this January I decided to really tackle all of the stuff that I no longer needed. I found this document from the blog Pick Up Limes that was a 30 Days to Minimalism guide.
This guide was amazing. Not only does it include regular areas of your home such as your closet, Tupperware drawer, and desk, but also electronic things such as your email Inbox and subscriptions, and the apps on your phone. While each category is a day you can do a few at once, or spread them out over longer than a month.
Each morning Nigel and I would look at the item for the day and we would be ruthless. It helped having both of us because we could push the other person to get rid of things we were just holding onto because we may want to use it one day. Sometimes we really got into the swing of things and didn’t want to stop.
After the month was over Nigel and I had collected over 4 big garbage bags of items to be donated, plus tons of recycling and garbage to be removed from the house as well. Though we don’t think we have a lot of stuff I was surprised with how much we really didn’t need.
Though the month of decluttering is over, I have a few things in motion so that when we move again in a few months I can decide what else doesn’t need to come with us. These are also my tips and tricks to help you minimize what you own and really enjoy the things that you have in your life.
- Closet: when I went through my closet I turned every hanger backwards, then when I wear that item of clothing it can go back to the closet the right way around. This is a very obvious way to show me what I wear and don’t wear and it is hard to argue with the facts.
- “Use up” bins: In different areas of my house I have bins of things I want to use up first such as little bits of tea or makeup I don’t use enough. This ensures that I use up what I have before I buy more as well as helping me decide if I should get rid of the item. If I am not using it even when I keep it right in front of my face, it isn’t serving its purpose.
- Keeping a clean inbox: I am a little controlling about my inbox and I believe it helps keep my life a lot calmer. As soon as an issue is dealt with from my email I either delete it or move it to a folder where I can access it later. Only continuing items (an event I am going to next week, a package that is currently in the mail, or a sale that I am actually planning on checking out) get to remain in my inbox. This means I can find what is relevant quicker and don’t get bogged down with things that I don’t need.
- Take time away from items: I left a good amount of books in my old bedroom, knowing that I didn’t want to cart them across the country and this Christmas I had my chance to look at them for the first time. Guess what, I donated probably 75% of them. These books that I thought were so important I never thought about once in the 16 months I was away from them so obviously I didn’t need to keep them around. If there are things you are unsure of, pack them away out of sight for a few months. If you think of them and feel a desire to use it you can keep it, but if you never think of the item give it to a better home.
- Don’t keep things “just because”: If you keep telling yourself that one day you will use this dish, or make that recipe, or wear that dress and it never happens, just face it, it never will. All it is doing is creating clutter and making your space less inviting and welcoming to you.
- Don’t then go and fill up the spaces you made: The point of decluttering isn’t to make room for more things, but rather to curate what you do have into a condensed collection of items that you do use regularly. If later on you realize that there is an item that would be used all the time and would improve your life and the space you can then go and purchase that item, but only after finding significant need for it.
My life has become very transient and because of that I have realized that I don’t need to rely on stuff as much as I thought. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have a full closet (Nigel can definitely tell you otherwise) or enjoy finding things for my space, but I try to use everything that I do own, because if I am not finding a use for something I would rather it be with someone else so that they can.