It’s no secret that I’m a firm believer in minimalism. In fact, I’ve written a couple of books about simple living and the value of living with less. I love the concept of simple living and minimalism in general. While there’s nothing wrong with having belongings, there’s a certain freedom in simplifying what you have and not hanging onto items out of emotional guilt or childhood trauma.
For me, simple living means I can be in a calm space without a lot of clutter and just have room to be. Instead of focusing on buying stuff and accumulating knick-knacks, I can focus on making memories and spending time with my family.
If you’ve been thinking about taking the leap, so to speak, and starting to live a simpler life by decluttering your home and moving to a more minimalistic approach, there are a few things you need to know before you begin.
First off, start slow. No one is saying you need to sell all of your stuff and buy a tiny home. A few years ago, my husband and I gave away almost all of our belongings (we stored a few boxes with my parents), sold our cars, and moved overseas. The experience was incredible, and getting rid of things wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it was going to be. We both have a flair for the dramatic, though, so don’t think you need to do anything this crazy. For you, perhaps decluttering your junk drawer will be a good place to start. Maybe simplifying your dining room is what matters most. Never think that just because you read stories about people who live with one piece of furniture that you need to be that person. You don’t. You just need to be you.
It’s also important that you be realistic and respectful of your family. If you live alone, you can skip this part, but for minimalists with spouses and kids, make sure you aren’t decluttering to the point of stressing out your family. Here’s what I mean: I have a girlfriend who wanted to do the whole minimalist-living thing. Her husband didn’t. She got rid of almost everything in the house except for a box of his VHS tapes he was saving. She was trying to decide whether she should get rid of these when he wasn’t looking because he never used them. See the problem? To her, these VHS tapes just took up space. For him, they were a collection of favorite movies he’d taken years to accumulate. I don’t know what ended up happening in this particular situation, but I hope that they were able to communicate openly and honestly and come up with some sort of solution that worked for both of them. If you live with other people, don’t declutter their stuff. Instead, focus on yourself.
It’s also a good idea to set realistic goals. What is it you hope to accomplish by decluttering your house? Some possible goals could include:
- Having a more relaxing living space
- Not having piles of books or papers on the kitchen table
- Reducing the number of boxes in the garage
- Keeping the space beneath the beds clear
- Minimizing the amount of clean-up and dusting you have to do
- Having a tidy living room so unexpected guests don’t cause stress or hasty cleaning