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A Minimalists Manifesto – The Art of Reducing Clutter

 

Have you ever noticed how the minimalist types tend to be a little calmer than the rest, more at ease with the world? They never seem stressed or rushed and always have time to do things that they enjoy.

Well there’s something to be said for that…

Often when we live or work in cluttered spaces, our minds tend to be cluttered also. We may have trouble concentrating, find that our productivity is not up to par and generally our stress levels are a little (or a lot) higher. Not fun.

You see it’s all very well owning lots of stuff. But the reality is that ultimately the stuff you own ends up owning you.

 

Can you relate to any of the following…?

  • You have a garage, but you can never park your car in it because it’s so full of stuff.
  • You often pay bills late because you’ve lost them among all the piles of paper around your home and office.
  • You rent a storage unit for all your extra stuff, but you’ve already forgotten whats in it, (because let’s face it you never have/never will use it anyway).
  • You seem to have a never ending list of things to get done on your days off (sorting out the spare bedroom etc.) and always run out of time for the things you enjoy doing and are most important to you.

If any of these sound familiar (and please be honest with yourself), then this post may very well change your life. I sincerely hope it does.

 

One year in my early twenties I moved house six times. Yes six times. And one of those was to a different country. The sheer amount of stuff I owned at the beginning of that year is laughable now. By about house number three I was fed up with carting everything from place to place. I realised how much of that stuff I hadn’t actually used since House Number One and proceeded to half my possessions. Then halved it again by house number five and once again when moving to house number six.

Since that year I have rarely owned more than a suitcase worth of stuff at one time. A funny thing happens when you start to clear away the physical stuff in your life – it simultaneously starts to clear away the clutter in your mind. You’re priorities become a little clearer, you start to have more energy for things that you care about and time becomes a useful ally rather than the enemy it once was.

You see stuff takes up time. You don’t realise this until you start to eliminate all of that excess. And time is our most precious commodity. Once it’s spent you can never get it back. So why waste it on stuff when you could spend it on more meaningful things that won’t depreciate and collect dust? Why not use that time to spend investing into people you care about, creating memories and going on adventures, learning new skills to advance your life and focusing on your dreams and aspirations. You know, all the things that make life worth living.

Is having ‘stuff’ really worth missing out on all that?

 

‘…time is our most precious commodity. Once it’s spent you can never get it back.’

 

Here are just a few of the benefits of minimising your possessions and de-cluttering your life, in case you still need convincing…

  • Less physical clutter gives space for more mental clarity, higher levels of focus and productivity.
  • Less ‘stuff’ to organise, sort, tidy, clean, take care of allows you time freedom for more important things.
  • Having and needing less in the long term is better for our environment. Enevitably leads to less items ending up in a landfill and less of earths finite resources being used up creating more unnecessary ‘stuff.’
  • You develop a greater appreciation for the items you actually do need and own – and tend to take care of them better. On that note – gratitude is proven to be the key to a happy life. Win – win.

 

‘…gratitude is proven to be the key to a happy life.’

 

These two steps are basically the key to minimalism in it’s most simplest form…

#1 – Identify whats most important to you.

#2 – Eliminate everything else.

Ask yourself – what is actually essential to your life? And what is just surplus?

Then proceed to reduce and eventually eliminate all of the excess that is not serving you.

 

That’s all very well you say – but what does that actually look like in practical terms?

Here are a few steps you can take to get started…

  • Request to have as many of your bills sent to you via email only to reduce paper clutter. You can even schedule a reminder in your phone calendar for when they are due, because remember we’re all for reducing mental clutter also.
  • Take a good look in your fridge and pantry – chuck out anything that has expired or not been used in a long time. The results may surprise you. Compost and recycle as much of this as you can.
  • Take a look around your house, garage and especially in your wardrobe. Be brutally honest with yourself about what things you haven’t used in the last 6 – 12 months. If you’re holding onto something because you ‘might need it one day’ that’s unfortunately not a good enough reason. And I hate to break it to you but this officially makes you a hoarder. The reality is you are unlikely to need said item in the future and the cost of holding onto it for all those years will far outweigh the cost of having to replace it if by some miracle you do need it later on. So take a deep breath and just let it go.
  • If you have a storage unit – do yourself a favour… cancel it and sell or giveaway the stuff inside it. The likelihood of you ever missing it is slim to none and the money you will save can now be used on much more exciting things like holidays.
  • When you do need to make new purchases, make sure to always buy products that are well made and built to last. Choose quality over quantity every time. Obviously we also recommend choosing products that are locally and sustainably made also.

This post from Becoming Minimalist also has some creative de-cluttering ideas to try.

 

I routinely go through my possessions and question whether or not I actually need it and if having it is actually benefiting my life. I don’t have any specific time period for doing this, but every now and then I start to feel that my head feels a little scattered and I find my space getting messy a little too often. That’s when I know it’s just time to take stock of what I own and chuck out or give away anything that has become surplus in my life. I always find a new sense of purpose and a renewed level of productivity follows a good clear out.

 

Remember – time is an irreplaceable resource. Use it wisely. Family, friends, goals and aspirations deserve far more space in your life than inanimate objects do. So make like a minimalist and eliminate the excess in your life before the stuff you own ends up owning you. You’ll thank me later, I promise.

 

What other tips have you found useful in de-cluttering your home and your life? Comment below.

 

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