I’m not the tidiest person.
Actually, I was quite the opposite for MANY years.
I was a mess.
The house was a mess.
I remember being so proud of myself when I kept the dishes done for a week. It was a huge deal for me.
Because I loathed any type of “chore.”
I liked stuff too.
Decor was cool, crafts were fun, and I adored handmade anything.
Stuff was supposed to solve my problems.
But it wasn’t solving anything.
The more “helpful” items I acquired, the more of a mess the house seemed to be.
The cleaners never worked perfectly.
The toys never occupied the kids to the extent they promised.
The mop/vacuum/scrubby/appliance never gave me extra time.
But my house was full of STUFF.
Stuff BECAME a problem.
First step: habits
Should we develop new habits, or declutter the excess? Which one should we do first??
Honestly, we have to do both.
They support each other.
When we have good daily habits of cleaning up, things don’t pile up and become overwhelming.
When we get rid of all the excess, the daily habits take less time and are easier to accomplish.
Here’s what I recommend:
Start with the daily habits.
- In the kitchen, put things away when you’re done with them (boxes of cereal, spices used, etc.)
- Wash the dishes in the morning and evening (directly after meals means nothing sticks on the dishes so washing them goes quickly)
- Wipe off the counter & stove where do you do most of your food prep/cooking.
When you see a beautiful clean counter, you will more likely want to get rid of the pile of papers in the corner and throw away the ketchup packets from the junk drawer.
And it’s easier to focus on just one area (kitchen) instead of deciding to work on everything at once.
Maintaining a clear space creates the desire to have more clear spaces.
From just decluttering to stupid-easy
I decluttered a lot.
And by a lot, I mean more than 10,000 items. That was just when I was counting, there has been so much more!
And decluttering helped.
But I was desperate for something easier.
I didn’t want a home that I could just be ok with.
I needed daily tasks to be SO EASY, that it would seem silly to NOT do them.
Minimalism is my stupid-easy.
When it is so easy, my brain tells me things like:
“You love having your house tidy, just do that 2 minute task, it’s only 2 minutes!”
“It will only take 4 minutes to wash the dishes, you know you enjoy it when the sink is empty.”
“It will take 3 seconds to put that away, your future self will appreciate it.”
Yes, I talk to myself.
Or as my grandmother always said, “I think out loud.”
And the things I say out loud to myself are much nicer than they used to be. 😉
Minimalism for the win
I don’t embrace minimalism for the aesthetic. Sure I enjoy open clear spaces. But having a pretty decorated home was never my goal.
Decluttering the excess got rid of the feeling of overwhelm and made it so that I could manage my home and my stuff.
But decluttering even more so that all that was left HELPED me made my life way easier!
Yes, it was easier to have a pretty home after I got rid of so much.
But the focus was on ease of use, not appearance.
Minimalism means there are fewer things I have to keep an inventory of.
This means I feel lighter like my stuff isn’t weighing me down anymore.
I’m not looking for fulfillment in my stuff
It’s better now than it used to be. But there is still a tendency for people to imagine blank white walls and mid-century modern furniture when they think of minimalism.
But because I have shifted from having only what serves me in my home, the need for updating all the time has decreased.
The focus simply isn’t about the STUFF.
So I still have the old furniture.
I haven’t redecorated in years.
And I’m ok with it.
The focus has shifted to activities and being present with my family.
It’s changed from having a home to show my identity, to simply having a home that helps me live the way I want to live.
It doesn’t mean our homes don’t reveal our personality a bit, but the focus is no longer on the house and the stuff we collect and display, the focus is on LIVING.
Minimalism looks different for everyone
I like to cook. And I cook a LOT.
So I have things that help me cook the way I want to cook.
My kitchen is full (but not over-flowing) of things that I use. When you walk into my kitchen and look at my cupboards, you might not immediately think I’m a “minimalist.”
But each item in my kitchen was chosen or kept because of its usefulness to me.
On the other hand, I don’t care much about clothing. So I have easily decreased my wardrobe to 40-ish items that cover all seasons.
And we pretty much only have furniture in the living room.
But have we have a son that gets so much joy from seeing his collections, his shelves are packed with stuff.
Would I like their room to be “minimal” sure- it seems so much easier to me!
But it’s not worth fighting over.
Some minimalists will fill their calendar, and others will remove everything from it.
Some minimalists will have blank walls in their homes, and others will have a gallery wall.
Some will have nothing in their cupboards, but lots on their counters.
Some will have nothing on their counters but their spice drawer is jammed with variety.
But however it’s applied, minimalism is a lifestyle change.
It’s like dieting vs. lifestyle change.
Minimalism is a lifestyle change in regards to our stuff.
We don’t just want to lose a few pounds of clutter, instead, we want to enjoy an easier home because we only have what is essential.
The Clutter-Free Army
If you would like to join me in declutter, I have a membership newsletter: The Clutter-Free Army. Each week I send out a PDF with an area to focus on, six 10-minute decluttering missions and questions to ask as you sort, to help you determine what needs to stay and what needs to go. Click here for more info.