1. What square footage do you have in your home and how many people live in your home?
It’s just my cat, Patti, and I. For a while, I led a nomadic lifestyle, traveled a lot and could carry everything I owned on my back. Then I adopted Patti and that all changed. We now live in a little apartment (no idea how many square feet) although I move as often as possible. I hoped Patti would be an adventure cat and travel with me, but she’s a real scaredy-cat and won’t even go outside. I do like the stability of having a home base.
3. What was your motivation for embracing simplicity in your life?
I first discovered minimalism when I was 18. I was staying in a flat in Tel Aviv for a few days and had brought just one small bag of stuff with me. Throughout the trip, I noticed I was calmer and more relaxed than usual. It wasn’t just the sun and change of scenery – it felt wonderful to be away from my cluttered, messy life.
I had a lot of stuff back then. I started an online business when I was 14 and it went unexpectedly well. Objectively, I wasn’t making much money but as I had no living expenses, it was all disposable income. I got into the habit of shopping to cheer myself up, or to distract me from work, or because I could. For a while it was fun, then it got out of hand. My bedroom was piled with clothes, shoes, stationery, makeup, knickknacks and so on. Contrary to my expectations, it made me miserable. The stuff didn’t add to my life, it only subtracted.
As a teenager, I recognized that owning lots of stuff wasn’t the path to happiness and decided I’d rather not continue making that mistake. My motivation was a desire to refocus my life on what really matters.
4. How has minimizing your possessions made your life better?
It has made a huge difference. I love the simplicity. It makes life a lot easier. My clothes fit into three show boxes and are mostly black, so I never need to think about what to wear. Instead of buying stuff, I invest the money back into my business or save up for travel. Moving house is easy (or as easy as it’s possible for that to be.) I have more space. I feel freer.
5. What was your biggest challenge in the middle of decluttering?
Books are an ongoing problem. I read 10-20 books per month so they mount up pretty fast and take up a lot of space. Plus, I buy them faster than I read them. The enormous pile of books in my living room is 90% unread and I have lots more in my office at work. It’s a nightmare each time I move.
For a long time, I tried to just read library books and ebooks, but that didn’t work for me. I like to write all over the margins, fold corners, highlight sections and usually make my own index of key pages. So I now just let myself buy as many books (secondhand, from Amazon) as I can afford. Then I mark them up however I like whilst reading, transcribe the key sections into Evernote, then keep only my absolute favourites. I usually lend the rest to people, knowing that borrowed books never, ever get returned.
The challenge was accepting that minimalism comes in different forms and we apply it to our lives in different ways. As a writer, I need to read a lot in the same way an athlete needs to train a lot and ebooks don’t work for me.
6. What helped you get rid of the most? (Questions, thought process, etc.)
I started by considering what I wanted to keep, not what I wanted to declutter. When I first decided to adopt a minimalist lifestyle, I made a list of my most important and essential possessions and got rid of everything else. This is the opposite of the typical approach, but it worked for me.
Deciding to avoid getting furniture helped too. The only ‘real’ furniture I own is a chair – my bed is a shipping pallet I painted, bedside table is a painted cable reel, my desk is borrowed and I don’t have a sofa or anything like that. This means there’s very little room to store stuff and it puts me off shopping. I get around the problem of my home looking boring by buying bunches of fresh flowers.
7. What unexpected reactions did you get from friends or family seeing the change in your home?
It was difficult at first, especially as I still lived with my parents. People were mostly just concerned I would regret it, something which also worried me. But it helped a lot that I blogged about the process. My family and friends read about the process and understood my reasons a little better. And I think they’re used to it by now.
Rosie Leizrowice is a professional writer who helps businesses and individuals present new or complex ideas in a simple, accessible way. She lives in Dorset, England with a cat named after Patti Smith and lots of books. Rosie publishes weekly essays on minimalism, Stoicism, creativity, and productivity on her blog, Medium, Quora, and Linkedin.
Would you like to participate?
When you are thinking about becoming minimalist, the whole point of it is to keep true to your authentic self. What is important to you, the things you enjoy and the life you want to live.
I’m excited to share some real-life examples of what minimalism looks like in different homes around the world.
If you would like to share a tour of YOUR home, please email me with “HOME TOUR” in the subject line.