Oh my wordicles! Everyone appears to be decluttering, minimalising, scandivising and just generally chucking their lifetime’s accumulation of stuff into the metaphorical and often actual bin - yikes! Surely I will need that incomplete set of twelve cocktail glass stem rings that aunty whoever bought me for my twenty first? (Why is it always aunties that are picked on?). Anyway, what if I hate minimalism and all these boring old white walls and drawers with no nobs on (how impractical)?
Minimalizing as Streamlining
Well let me clarify two frequent misconceptions here; firstly, some people like and need a lot of things around them; we all differ in what brings us comfort; secondly, minimalising is NOT necessarily about adopting a minimalist lifestyle nor is it about minimal décor. Whilst those things are, well … things, they are not for the majority and are a separate subject.
One could be living in a minimally decorated house with one of fifty shades of white on the walls and monochrome cats, yet still have an impeccably ordered dressing room with cupboards accommodating the largest collection of clothes, toiletries, beauty gadgets, cosmetics etc, many of which are simply gathering dust. That is not a minimalist lifestyle, it is minimalist décor. They often go hand in hand and although my aesthetic preferences lean towards an uncluttered, but still cosy look, that doesn't have to be your bag.
Whenever I have moved house, the best part has been sorting and discarding stuff I no longer need, never really needed or that has outlived its use - fleecy lama pants? Be gone! Contraception no longer required here! (Sniggers unapologetically). The process has been cathartic and strangely liberating. Aren’t we bizarre creatures? We feel great when we get rid of stuff, then feel even better when we go out and buy more stuff!
Marie Kondo, Appreciation and Sparking Joy
Personally, I like to settle for a kind of compromising ‘cosy minimalism’. This means that I do not like to be surrounded by unaccounted for stuff; I have to know what is in every drawer and do not want things that are neither beautiful nor useful. For clarity, if something is neither aesthetically beautiful nor practically useful yet makes you happy, it may well, on reflection, deserve both labels. Beauty is not limited to aesthetics and anything that adds personal value should be considered useful. As Marie Kondo herself advocates, the things we own, the things in our homes should ‘spark joy’. Therefore, if your ‘back end of a donkey’ costume from the only pantomime you ever starred in sparks joy, and you need to have it in your life, then keep it! However, put it somewhere where you are able to see it, sometimes, and enjoy it. I will leave that one with you my friends, so no elaborations in the comments please?
If you have no idea where or how to start, then you could do a lot worse than read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo. Even if you choose not to follow her method, just reading it fills you with positivity and good intentions. You can then go and do your thing, your way.
What are the Benefits to Decluttering?
Easier to find things - less stress, less timewasting, less duplicate purchases;
More chance of noticing things you love and enjoying them - the idea is not to get rid of as much stuff as possible, but to get rid of stuff that no longer serves or delights you; you are then left to enjoy what is meaningful and/or useful;
Less decisions to be made when there is less choice - who needs five spare pillows and three potato peelers in different colours anyway?
More physical space - things that should not be out, should have a home, eliminating the need to navigate an obstacle course just to retrieve aforementioned potato peeler (the blue one matches today’s outfit please?);
More head space - excess clutter can cause actual stress, whereas a calm uncluttered physical space is mirrored in the mind. To allow the mind to breathe, is to allow it to either rest, play or create according to its needs;
Calmer life - stress causes all manner of undesirable things to happen to our bodies, from frown wrinkles and hot flushes to hormonal mayhem, all of which are ageing; my tip for ageing positively? Streamline, declutter and enjoy your chosen possessions;
Easier to manage anxiety and brain fog - clutterfree spaces equal a clutterfree mind; that must surely help to lift some of the fog and facilitate..
Clearer thinking - this deserves its own line; for some, turning fifty and going through the menopause can hinder clear thinking; trouble sleeping, migraines, anxiety, hot flushes and hormone fluctuations to name but a few of the possible reasons behind this;
Promotes appreciation and gratitude for what we have in our lives - now that our ‘spark joy’ pieces are not stifled by excess;
Better for the environment when you buy less and buy mindfully - using up existing products and only when they run out, replacing with thoughtful sustainable choices is the way forward;
Easier to keep your house clean and tidy - well it is simple really, less stuff equals less to tidy, less to clean and less to find a home for;
Less dust mites - well, ‘things’ are dust traps are they not?
‘‘The best way to decide what we really need, is to get rid of what we don’t
I have definitely found that knowing where everything is and not wasting time rifling means that I have more headspace to tackle what I need to. The gratitude that accompanies the mindfulness of living with less, may bring about a deeper satisfaction with life and a decreased reliance on having the next ‘new’ thing. Again, it clarifies what you actually want/need, rather than what you think you should want/need.
Where to Start with Decluttering
Marie Kondo advises to start with your wardrobe, and I would agree. This involves gathering every item you own and making a pile, then the sorting begins. Why clothes first? Well, the reasoning is that clothes are generally the things we attach the least sentimentality to (there are exceptions of course; exibit A: back end of donkey costume). We tend to create the least attachment to clothes so it is probably the easiest category to start with. Believe me, I have not yet regretted any of the items I have sent to charity shops, given away or sold.
I have some ideas for you about making a start on your wardrobes and I am happy to share them, along with a list of my favourite bloggers in this area. Click ‘comments’, and send me a message or go to ‘contact me’ and send me an email stating that you would be interested in this and I will forward you a list of handy tips that helped me, when I started to streamline my wardrobe. I am very much on a journey with this myself and am following advice from others who are nailing the living with less philosophy. You are invited on my journey and encouraged to offer your tips for simplifying your life and parting with things that you have grown unnecessarily attached to. Send me a message to say ‘Hi’ and introduce yourself. I would love to hear your thoughts.