Do you want to clear out the clutter that’s been building up in your house, garage, cubicle, or office but have no idea how to get started?
In the beginning of our minimalist journey I felt overwhelmed. My closet was filled with clothes I didn’t wear and stuff I didn’t want or need. Our kitchen had piles of dishes and bills. I could barely park my car in the garage. Our living room looked like a Toys R Us had exploded. I knew I needed to start somewhere but I couldn’t figure out where.
Thankfully, with the help of some books, online resources, and my wife’s unending patience and wisdom we began to navigate our way through the piles of stuff that had collected over the years. We’re still working on it, but we’ve discovered some practical and easy tips that have helped us make progress. Here they are:
Ease into it.
If you’re like me you may be tempted to do everything in one weekend. Most of us, though, don’t have the time or energy to do that.
Start small by picking the area with the least amount of clutter. It could be your desk at work, your inbox, a cabinet in your kitchen, or even a drawer in your dresser. It doesn’t matter. Find an easy win and begin and do a little bit there each day.
As you finish cleaning those areas you’ll find yourself more energized and encouraged to tackle the tougher areas.
I recommend starting in small bursts, like 30 to 60 minutes a day, a couple of times a week.
Don’t worry about how long it takes you. It doesn’t matter how fast you do it, just that you’re doing it. It’s better to get things done over a longer period of time then it is to burn out trying to do everything too quickly.
Big changes done quickly usually don’t last, but small changes over time can create a lasting difference in your life.
Evaluate as you go.
As you go through each room ask yourself if the things in that room reflect, inspire, and enable you to live your priorities or do they detract and distract you from them.
Another great question to ask is, “If I had to move would it be worth it to pay someone to move it?” That question alone helped my wife and I get rid of over 6 van loads of stuff earlier this year.
Ask yourself if the things you want to get rid of are worth selling, giving away, or if it’s better to just throw some of them away. I had bags of old clothes I gave away, but there were some that were just in really bad shape so I tossed them.
At one point we did have a garage sale. We priced every item, but if someone offered us a different price but could take it that day we went with their offer. For us it wasn’t about making money so much as getting rid of what we didn’t need or want anymore. In these situations our philosophy has always been that it’s better to make a little money off something we were just going to give away anyway than to haggle over a few dollars. It also saved me from having to hall it somewhere else myself.
It’s easy to fall into the pit of consumerism and stay there without the help and support of other minimalist-minded people. Gather people around you who share your belief that excess ≠ success. They don’t have to use the label “minimalist” to help you. They just have to buy in to the idea that more stuff isn’t always better.
There are a lot of great resources and communities online right now that can help you. Blogs like Becoming Minimalist, Zen Habits, Be More With Less, and No Sidebar are all great sites that inspire and help me on my minimalism journey. I hope this blog can be a place that inspires and helps you on your’s.
Enjoy what you have.
The point of minimalism isn’t to have less. It’s to make space for what matters most by clearing out the things that clutter your life, detract and distract you from your priorities. The things that you keep should enhance your life and help you enjoy it more. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the things you own. Just make sure they’re the right things.
Encourage others towards minimalism.
Joshua Becker’s journey into minimalism is what inspired me to become a minimalist. As you move forward tell others what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. It may be just what they need to start clearing the clutter from their life and to make space for what matters most.