Five Easy Strategies for the Beginning Minimalist
If you clicked this link, you're either one of my friends who reads my blog or you're genuinely interested in minimalism.
You just may be unsure where to start with the decluttering. After all, letting go of anything is not an easy prospect.
If easing into minimalism appeals to you, then here are five super simple strategies you can employ to begin the paring down of the stuffs without amping up your anxiety.
1. Eliminate the expired.
Go through cabinets, drawers, and closets and find those products that you're holding on to that are expired.
Maybe you're thinking you'll use them someday, but check that date. If you haven't used that item since 2010, I"m guessing you probably don't even need to replace it.
Or, the item has been replaced (like sunscreen), but you're holding on to this old bottle of it for some reason. Deep storage? You don't need deep storage for items that have a shelf life.
If you have a collection of those hotel travel lotions and shampoos, I'd be inclined to consider them expired as well. Unless you really do use them...a lot...on a regular basis. Having that basket or box full of those tiny bottles is not serving a purpose, except to make you feel like a giant! Donate that basket to a homeless shelter or a church. They will make sure those items are put to a good use.
- Lotions, especially if you opened the bottle, but never finished using the product
- Canned goods
2. Eliminate the broken, the stained, the incomplete, and the unusable.
Not everything that's unusable has to be thrown out. Some of these items may be recyclable. Other things you may be able to sell, even for parts. Some people are crafty and like to upcycle. That's cool. If you're crafty. For reals! If you just like pinning upcycle crafts on Pinterest and will never actually do the craft, then please get rid of the unusable. Or give it to your crafty friend.
- Scratched DVDs or DVD cases that are missing the actual DVD
- Light bulbs that do not match any lamp you own
- Puzzles with missing pieces
- Clothes with holes beyond repair
- Costume jewelry that's damaged or broken
- Appliances or technology that no longer works
- Chords, chargers or any pieces of technology you no longer use...probably because you've upgraded
Seriously, count things like place settings, including silverware, sheet sets, and towels.
How many of each do you actually need? Consider your cleaning routines. My mom had two sets of sheets for every room because as soon as a bed was stripped, she expected it to be made up again immediately. In my own home, I'm fine with waiting for the dryer, so I just keep the one set of sheets.
Look at your silverware. And kitchen utensils, in general. How many spatulas do you need? The answer for a family of five is probably going to be different than my answer for our family of two. But once you figure out how often you do the dishes, consider eliminating those excess pieces.
4. Unsubscribe and set realistic email preferences.
Digital clutter is still clutter. If you're getting emails from stores, politicians, charities, bloggers, organizations or whoever and the content of those emails is not adding value to your life, then unsubscribe.
I've subscribed to mailing lists for certain periods of time because I was shopping for a specific item and monitoring sales. As soon as the item was acquired, though, I unsubscribed.
If you still want notifications from certain folks, set up your email preferences to match your lifestyle. Do you really need to know about that friend request? Some people, especially business owners, may need that information right away. But I found the social notifications from Pinterest, Goodreads, Twitter, and LinkedIn to be overwhelming. I adjusted all of them to help me conquer my email inbox.
5. Stop shopping, except for food, for one month.
Consider this experiment as a trial period. Force yourself to be patient. Figure out what you already own that will work. Repurpose. Borrow. Ue the library. Bottom line is not to spend any money on stuff, even digital stuff, for one month.
I found this experiment quite telling for me. When I was dabbling with the idea of minimalism, I actually went back through my receipt ledger and looked at where I was spending money. And how often. There were a few three-week stretches where I spent money on paying bills and food, which I found encouraging. Taking the plunge to stop spending for a month seemed much less intimidating then.
Unsure about whether or not you can truly embrace minimalism? Yeah, I had that issue too.
Please check out my posts: Minimalism's Sublime Squishy Factor, where I delight in the adaptability of the minimalism lifestyle, and Pop Culture Clutter versus Memorable Experiences, where I share my internal debate over whether or not I could be a minimalist.
What do you think? Are these strategies realistic and relatively stress-free? Please share your ideas in the comments below. And if you know anyone who's toying with the idea of becoming a minimalist and you found these suggestions helpful, please share this post with them.