The Number One Way to Simplify Your Life

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Photo by Igor Starkov from Pexels

Is it touching everything you own and asking yourself if it sparks joy?

Is it decluttering one area at a time and putting things where they go right away so you never end up with a living, breathing, “Keep” pile?

Is it limiting yourself to only one hundred belongings that you can fit into a duffel bag at a moment’s notice?

No. Or yes.

The number one way to simplify your life is to do something that works for you personally.

Not everyone has the time to change their life with tidy magic. And not everyone can take on a slow, speed-of-life approach when they want to get it done right now.

Sometimes people simplify, declutter, downsize, or minimize due to the need to move quickly or just because they’ve finally had enough and need to change something in their lifestyle because it’s driving them bananas.

No matter your reason for applying minimalism to your life, the best way is whatever way works for you personally, because everyone’s preferences, speed, and ability levels are different.

If you don’t know where to start, start by researching the different methods available to you and just pick one to try out. If it works for you, great! If it doesn’t, try a different method. This Ultimate Home Decluttering Guide breaks down the benefits of decluttering as well as several approaches to minimizing your belongings.

Benefits of decluttering include:

  • Improved concentration
  • Reduced stress
  • Improved mood
  • Improved sleep
  • Finding things you thought you lost
  • Increased home safety

Some of the Ultimate Home Decluttering Guide’s tips include:

  • Establish a regular time to declutter daily and weekly
  • Get rid of anything you haven’t used in the past year
  • Have a friend or family member help you
  • Ask yourself, “Would I trade inner peace for this?”
  • Create a quarterly schedule to declutter large areas like the garage or attic
  • Try out to-do lists to organize your efforts
  • Learn to declutter your mail as it arrives daily
  • Return borrowed items to their owners
  • Throw away or recycle anything you don’t need
  • Try filling one trash bag per day with donations, recyclables, or trash as a short-term decluttering method
  • Declutter one item each day (throw away or give away)
  • Try the “four box” method and sort things into keep/not sure/throw away/give away boxes
  • Try the “cardboard box test” and pack items away in a cardboard box – if you don’t open it in a month, donate the whole thing
  • Declutter room by room
  • Look for easy things to discard, such as expired food or medicine (call a local pharmacy for tips on disposing of medicine)
  • Try creative organization methods like an over-the-door shelf or hanger, drawer organizers, tension rods, etc.
  • Start in one corner of a room and declutter one area at a time
  • Declutter hidden spaces like dresser drawers and closet bins too
  • Donate clothing that doesn’t fit well or isn’t comfortable (and therefore isn’t worn regularly!)
  • Maximize your storage space
  • Reduce the number of redundant kitchen tools you have
  • Deal with your stacks of paper
  • Donate unused comfort items like blankets if you have too many to reasonably use
  • Teach kids to clean up their toys as part of their bedtime routine
  • DON’T buy organizers before you see the final result of your decluttering and know exactly what you’re organizing
  • Break tasks down into manageable chunks and schedule your decluttering

The Ultimate Home Decluttering Guide also identifies several clutter personalities:

  • People who don’t recognize their clutter
  • People who clear then re-buy
  • The Superman (organizes without decluttering)

If you recognize yourself in these clutter personalities or you’re curious about trying some of the methods described, go check out and bookmark the Ultimate Home Decluttering Guide – it’s a very valuable resource for staying on task with a decluttering project.

 

 

Decluttering the car

It is so easy to make a mess in the car.  You’re driving and eating, driving and talking, driving and dealing with a dog in the car, driving and listening to music… very rarely do we just get into the car and drive somewhere in silence without touching any other object.  Thus, our car gets dirty.  CD cases, pens, change, grain pellets from a drive-through wildlife safari, name tags from old jobs, magnets, newspaper, fast food bags, beverage bottles… these are all things I recently removed from my car.

Get ready for some terrifying before photos.

I solemnly swear to stop using my floorboards as a portable trash can.

The back, where stuff goes to die.

I started by going through everything in my car and sorting it into several categories:

  • Garbage
  • Recyclable
  • Relocate
  • Belongs in the car

Garbage was thrown away, recyclables were put into recycling, and the “relocate” pile was taken inside for its fate to be decided.  But I knew it didn’t belong in the car.  My car is not a docking station for excess stuff.  Things that belonged in the car were organized.  Cords were kept in individual baggies so they didn’t get tangled when I needed them. CDs are in my visor CD-holder (still too many CDs, but at least they are not all over my car).

Now for the good stuff, the after photos:

The front seat, with floorboard garbage magically removed and a bag for trash so I don’t make a giant mess anymore.

Glove compartment! Featuring: Car manuals, GPS and cord (in a bag together), change (in a pill bottle) for parking meters, ziploc baggie with insurance card, AAA card, other cards I won’t need unless I drive somewhere), flashlight, detergent pen in case of spills, and tire pressure gauge. Also napkins (not pictured).

If you think there is still a lot of stuff in my car, wait til you see what I took OUT of my car:

Ridiculous.  Good riddance!

Is your car a clutter magnet?

The clutter of broken promises

This post is inspired by a recent post on Miss Minimalist.

In her post, she describes a baby swing that she purchased because it promised to make her fussy baby nap.  Though she is a die-hard “minsumerist,” she wasted no time parting with her money to buy this swing, this promise of peace while her baby slept peacefully.  Except her baby did not sleep.  Uh-oh.

That swing made a promise to her and it fell short of that promise.

What about the promises we make to our stuff? Or the promises we make to ourselves when we buy the stuff that plagues us?

I have an easel.  Priced at $45 at an estate sale, I took it home for $20.  Oh, the things I was going to paint.  And I have yet to do so, after owning the easel for months.  It didn’t make any promises to me… it’s just an easel.  I guess it promised to hold whatever canvas I put upon it, and it will be able to keep that promise.  But I promised it I would use it and love it and paint upon it.  I promised it a place of honor in my new flat (which it has, even if I never use it). I promised myself I would paint more with this easel.  I have not painted anything in several months.

If you find yourself surrounded by the clutter of broken promises, evaluate them.  What is the promise?  Who made it?  Who broke it?  Can the promise be kept? If not, maybe it’s time to let go of the promise.

If you find yourself considering a new item, evaluate those promises too.
What is this item promising to do?  Can you have that need met elsewhere?  Are you, say, buying an easel, or a new pair of running shoes, when you haven’t been doing any painting or running? Those things won’t make you an artist or an athlete.  In this instance, I think it’s better to work with what you have for now to make sure whatever promises you or your potential stuff make can be kept.

Many promises begin with good intentions.  And it is okay to realize you can’t keep a promise.  But we must be better stewards of our stuff and our lives and our promises and try not to make those we cannot keep (both to people and to stuff)!  We must also beware the pretty promises that stuff makes when it wants to make its new home with us.

Have you made any unkept promises to your stuff?