In modern America, we have become quite the collectors. Our homes are filled to the brim and bursting at the seams. So much so that it’s not uncommon for people to have storage units to house their excess. This blows my mind. Maybe you’re one of these people and you’re tired of drowning in your things. I’m going to give you seven small ways to try on minimalism today.
By now you’ve probably heard the term minimalism, and maybe you’re thinking it could be helpful to you. Well, you’ve come to the right place!
*Note: I’m talking as if you’re ready to do your entire home. If that seems too overwhelming, just apply these same steps to one room or area of your house. Slow and steady wins the race. I don’t want you to get burned out.*
1. Try minimalism by taking care of the trash, right now!
The first step is to take care of the obvious trash or donations in your home. This step should be relatively easy and painless. We’ll get to the hard stuff later.
Go through the house with a trash bag, getting rid of anything that is literal trash; broken toys, clothes and undergarments with holes in it, food wrappers, etc.
Then do a thorough cleaning of hard surfaces and tidying. Tidying might look like throwing everything in one room that doesn’t currently have a home into a bin to deal with later.
This might seem counterintuitive since you’re trying to be more organized but it’s very hard to think clearly if you’re working in a complete disaster.
2. Try minimalism by asking yourself hard questions
Our possessions have become tied to our emotions. As a result, with each item we consider, we are faced with an emotionally draining task. It takes a lot of guts to go through everything you own and assess whether you truly need it or love it.
Downsizing our belongings does not mean we will only have the absolute necessities like I’m sure you’ve seen. You know, the guy on youtube who only owns what can fit in his backpack and the clothing on his back. Yeah, we aren’t going for that on this blog.
We are going for simplifying your belongings, down to a manageable inventory, and therefore simplifying your life.
Here are some questions to ask yourself as you begin this journey.
- Does this item add value to my life? Do you enjoy this item frequently?
- Does this item bring up fond memories or is attached to guilt if I were to donate or trash it?
- Do I want to manage this item? Is it a hassle to deal with? This could be with kids toys that are dumped out but never played with or a piece of clothing that is high maintenance.
If it adds value and is used frequently like your $500 Vitamix, of course, keep it!
If it is truly sentimental and gives you great feelings to have in your possession, like old family photos, keep it! But if you’re only keeping the birthday gift because you’re afraid the other person will be upset, please pass it on to someone else who will love it.
Are you okay with managing closets that are busting at the seams? If you are on top of things, crushing the laundry then, by all means, keep all those clothes!
But if you’re like me, laundry is your least favorite chore. Downsizing your clothes might be right for you. That could mean trying a more extreme approach like a capsule wardrobe or an easier compromise like downsizing your family’s clothes to a manageable amount ie there’s room between your hangers, your drawers are able to shut properly, and you can keep up with the laundry routine.
3. The quarantine bin, a minimalist best friend
Now, I understand you are probably sick of the word quarantine with all that’s going on in the world today but this quarantine is different. You’ll like this one I promise.
As you try minimalism, one thing you’re probably worried about is getting rid of something you actually needed. That’s why the quarantine bin is your best friend.
Let me explain.
A quarantine bin is a box or bag where you’re going to put all the things you think you could live without for this trial period whatever you determine that to be. You’ll put anything you’re not sure you want to keep or toss in here, put it in the garage, basement, or closet.
If during the trial period, you realize you need something, it is easily accessible. The goal of the quarantine bin is to see if you can live without it. Chances are you can. Some people will store several of these bins in a basement and completely forget about it for years.
There’s a lot of truth to the saying, “Out of sight, out of mind.”
4. What you should put in the quarantine bin
So what should you put out of sight?
- Anything you have multiples of
- Clothes, shoes and accessories you’re thinking of donating (for instance, if you’re going to try a capsule wardrobe)
- Extra silverware, serving dishes, cups, plates, kitchen gadgets that haven’t been used, etc
- Children’s toys (children do better with less toys anyways)
- Knick knacks and home decor you don’t absolutely love
5. Organize with all your newfound space
Now that there is a little room in your cabinets, shelves, and closets, it’s time to organize!
Like things should go with like. For instance, the coffee mugs should be stored above the coffee pot. As well as the coffee, sugar, and filters. Pots and pans should go near the stove. Knives and cutting boards should be stored near each other.
In the bathroom, skincare should be with all of its other skincare friends. Your hairstyling tools, hairspray, heat protectant should all be buddied up together. I think you get the picture.
Use big and small bins to help you organize. These can be found very inexpensively at the Dollar Store, Ikea or Walmart or the more expensive route at something like The Container Store.
Decide what kind of bins you need before going. And only buy what you need. This is how we start to cultivate the minimalist mindset. This brings me to point number 6.
6. Slow your spending to try minimalism today
Stop going to the Target dollar section or “window” shopping of any kind.
Cut back significantly or completely nix your coffee shop stops. Coffee can be made delicious at home!
Don’t buy anything unless you absolutely need it, ie food (homemade), putting a roof over your head, etc.
This doesn’t mean you will never spend money on “luxuries” (as my husband and I used to call nonessentials when we were broke newlyweds) again but in order to get yourself in the mindset. Minimalism is more than just clean spaces and neatly organized drawers. It’s about creating a life that is balanced, easy to manage, and gives you the freedom to do what you truly value, whatever that is.
For me, the reason I have simplified my home is to keep some sort of sanity with 3 babies under the age of 4. For example, by not having a huge array of toys scattered in every room of the house, it’s a lot less triggering when the three-year-old is screaming (because he can) and making the two-year-old and the one-year-old cry in tandem. Notice I said less triggering. Still triggering only because of the behavior. Instead of the behavior and the mess.
Anywho, back to what I was talking about. Slow your spending for the week. See where and when you want to spend on things. Most importantly, why do you want to spend on an item you don’t really need?
Are you trying to fill a void? Spending because you’re bored? Spending because you’re with a friend and you don’t want them to think you can’t afford something?
Start asking yourself those questions and you’ll change your spending habits, therefore changing how much stuff you bring into your house.
Minimizing your belongings doesn’t have to take plae over night
I’m a bit of an extremist. I need to take my own advice here. After these steps, your place still may not be your dreamy simplified home. There are layers and layers for most people to go through before feeling like their house is simplified to their liking.
It’s a process.
It will take time.
But you can start enjoying the benefits of simplifying right now.
How are you going to start simplifying today? Let me know in the comments below!
Check out these nontoxic cleaning recipes Use Essential Oils Daily With 3 Easy Recipes while you’re tidying up!