Since starting to learn more about minimalism, I've come to accept that (for me, in any case) it's not going to be a quick transformation. It's going to be a slower, relaxed process; something that I can do at my own pace. I'm going to enjoy taking small steps towards a more minimalist lifestyle and I'm loving how my home is already starting to feel less cluttered and more spacious. I'm sure it has a positive effect on my mood, too...I'm definitely able to relax more when I can look round and see clean surfaces without piles of books and clutter. Our home is still a work in progress, but this is what I've learned in the last two weeks.
1. Realise you've got to start somewhere. If it's a job that you're not relishing then set yourself a time limit. One of my cluttered places was my car. I set myself 30 minutes to declutter and hoover. It's not perfect, but it's a lot better, and it's a step closer to where I want to be.
2. Enjoy your progress. Although decluttering your stuff takes time, celebrate your progress. Once you've decluttered that shelf, that cupboard, your car or your bedroom, then enjoy it. It's now going to be a lot easier to look after and this in turn should offer you more free time to enjoy the things you love. Hopefully it'll start rubbing off on other family members, too. After clearing out a whole pile of books in our living room, I was pleased to see my daughter had done the same in her bedroom. She'd even organised them for me - those her brother would be interested in, those for the charity shop and those that were only good for paper recycling.
3. Using our library has had two benefits. Firstly, we always have something pretty current to read without having to pay for it. (Anything that encourages my kids to read is a big bonus!) Secondly, we get to return them and avoid cluttering up our bookshelves. Simple!
4. Selling my stuff. There are so many ways to sell online these days (eBay, Facebook groups, Gumtree, your local auction company) that I decided to see if I could earn money from my clutter. So far I've netted about £60 and I'm putting it into a savings account for Christmas. I'm setting myself a target of selling at least one item per week...surely, I can manage that?
5. Visualize bigger projects - what are your goals? Personally, I want to redo my bedroom. The previous owner painted it pink, but I love imagining white walls, and a large print on the wall.... by Christmas I want to have created a peaceful, calming room that I can enjoy.
6. Be mindful of what you're bringing into the home. I don't want to spend hours sifting through piles of mail, CDs and outgrown clothes to simply keep adding to the clutter by bringing more stuff into the home. I'm starting to be more aware of this. If I'm offered a free brochure or sample in store, I politely decline it if it's of no real interest to me. In stores, if I've been buying simple groceries, say milk and bread, I'll not take home a receipt because I know (a) I'm not going to need it and (b) I'm working on keeping my purse uncluttered! If it's a larger purchase, several stores now offer to email you the receipt instead, so I do this where I can.
7. Declutter your time as well as your stuff. Use the extra time your simpler lifestyle affords to do things that you and your family truly enjoy. Don't busy-up your schedule just because you have more free time. Reclaim your days off to do things you truly enjoy doing.
As you can see, I'm very much at the start of decluttering my home. I look around, and I still see areas that need tackling. We certainly have excess bedding (how many blankets does a family need?), excess clothing and a very cluttered saucepan drawer that I need to sift through. Not to mention a shelf that contains a number of uneaten Easter eggs, in May, how did that happen? My goals for the next two weeks? Just to keep on going, one step at a time....I'll get there, in my own time, and that's fine.
Are you interested in minimalist living and finding a simpler lifestyle?....I'd love to hear about your experiences and any tips you can share in the comment below.