Over the last few years, my lifestyle has changed radically. I stopped working a full time job, started my own business, adopted a bunny, and have become a mum.
It wasn’t all that long ago, that I had a hectic schedule – with most of my waking hours spent outside the house.
But now, I spend far more time in or around my home. And I’m noticing the little things about my environment and my own habits.
Things that, frankly, are annoying.
Like the way that my shelves are just a bit too crowded.
Or the fact that I regularly wear only about 15% of my clothing – while the other 85% languishes in a closet, rarely (if ever) to see the light of day.
Or, the belongings that I’ve kept, simply because it was easier than making the decision to let go.
In short – I have a lot of “stuff”. Most of which, I don’t even use.
And now that I have mobile, active, and adventurous little ones around – the sheer amount of unnecessary possessions has become painfully clear.
At some point, every drawer, cabinet, and shelf has been explored by curious hands.
I used to joke that I could easily retrace my toddler’s movements by the trail of books, papers, folders, DVDs, and CDs in his wake.
But the reality is, as I restocked the shelves yet again and took a good look at our belongings, I was aware of the sheer amount of stuff that’s remained unused. Perhaps for years.
It’s not just bookshelves. It’s the kitchen cabinets, my closet, my home office, the bathroom shelves, my bedside table, and even the boot of the car.
Late in 2015, I made the decision to de-clutter. This quickly turned into a crusade for minimal living.
It started with the bookcase. I figured that someone else could enjoy the books, CDs, and DVDs that I wouldn’t have touched if it hadn’t been for tiny hands pulling everything off the shelves.
At the very least, it would make my own tidying easier.
I ended up donating about 70% of the items in the bookcase.
And that one simple act had a profound impact on my life.
Not only was tidying easier, but my toddler was actually able to enjoy the things on the shelves (fewer items equals less overwhelm). And, the uncluttered bookcase looked good. I actually became inspired to re-read the books I’d kept.
And, psychologically, I felt better. Cleaning that bookcase was cathartic.
Some of the things in that bookcase were very easy to remove. And others were incredibly difficult, because I had formed an attachment to them. Minimizing that bookcase was an iterative process.
As time has gone on, I’ve reevaluated my relationship with my belongings. And I realise that sometimes, I hold onto things because I think I should, or because I paid a lot of money for it, or because they might come in handy one day.
When I first started this process, I got rid of very little.
But as time goes on, and I see the benefits of minimising, it becomes easier to let go.
What started with the bookcase, quickly moved into the kitchen, bathroom, wardrobe, shoe cabinet, and office.
With each relinquished item, I’ve noticed my motivation increasing and my stress reducing. I’m re-inspired and re-invigorated. Daily tasks, like meal preparation and getting dressed, are more enjoyable and less tedious. I’m more productive, because cleaning and tidying are easier, and I can find things more quickly.
Minimal living doesn’t mean austere living. I still own my favorite shoes, and clothes I love, and sentimental items like photos. And meaningful mementos, like a jade Buddha figurine gifted by my parents.
Minimalism means that I surround myself only with the things that enrich my life.
Whether that’s the blender I use daily to make green smoothies for the family, or a hot pink dress that brightens my mood, and makes me feel great (and I happen to be wearing right now).
I’ve eliminated a lot from our home, and so far I haven’t missed any of it one bit.
In the off chance I need that grill pan or I want to watch a Seinfeld rerun, I could borrow, buy secondhand, or stream online.
But I can’t put a price on my joy, motivation, and vitality.
(I’ll be regularly blogging about the effect that minimalism is having on our family’s health and happiness – so please subscribe to this blog for updates!)